Being a Yorkshire man I’m used to having commentary passed on the ‘attributes’ of us folk, and whilst I will oft be heard defending my home county, there are times when certain things ring true. It was one such evening in August that I found myself being led along the high street in Oswestry with my short arms barely in my deep pockets and an air of slight suspicion in my manner… could it be true, an early bird menu that’s both affordable AND fine fair? At only £13.95 for 2 courses then surely not thought this tight, cynical Yorkshire man.
Brooks Around The Corner is a small restaurant on the end of the main road in Oswestry, as the name suggests, it’s just on the corner and as we needed an early evening meal it had been suggested that we give it a try. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike “Early Bird” menu’s, they are usually reasonably priced, but, and it’s a big but, they are so often populated with pre-prepared food that’s had a twirl in the microwave before being served and are designed to fill the restaurant seats before the more discerning dinners turn up for the proper menu.
Walking through the door we were presented with a welcoming, busy hub-bub of a dining area. The seating around the bar area was full with people pawing over the menu, chatting & enjoying a pre-dinner drink or two so we elected to go straight to our table. The menu was delivered and a quick run down of the options was given to us – it was great to see that there was nice selection of starters & mains with vegetarian options included, and what was even better is that it all looked like it would need to be freshly prepared and not a re-heat meal.
Drinks were brought to the table and orders taken and as we waited for our starters a basket of warm bread & rolls were delivered. These were quite obviously freshly prepared and tasted excellent, a definite indication that this meal had potential and that the chef wasn’t going to cut corners.
I’d elected for the duck spring rolls having seen someone on another table eating them. They were delightfully presented, stuffed full of duck meat and cooked perfectly. I furtively grabbed a fork full of the garlic mushroom tagliatelle from the plate of the lady sitting opposite me which tasted fresh, creamy & garlicy. Fortunately the lady opposite was my wife and the act was met with a stern look and not eviction from the restaurant.
The cleaned plates were removed and the very friendly owner had a brief chat with us about the Chef, her husband, and how she had asked him to hold back some of the Toad in The Hole for her for her supper. This bode well for me as that was the main course I’d ordered.
We didn’t need to wait long, despite most of the tables being full with diners, before the main courses arrived. Now one other thing about us Yorkshire folk is that although we might be spotted eating an Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire pudding we can be quite particular about the real deal. It should fill at least half the plate, be crisp, brown and have risen sufficiently to resemble a scale model of the Sidney Opera House. Had I been wearing a hat I would have taken it off to the Chef, the batter in the toad in the hole was perfect, and the locally sourced pork & black pudding sausages were meaty, lightly seasoned and equally well cooked. In my dining experiences it can be very easy to overcook one or other of the key components of the dish. The vegetables accompanying the meal were hot and still crunchy and it was obvious the meal had been prepared to order, and the onion gravy added a lovely sweet compliment to the savoury.
Across the table the Roasted vegetable, Pesto and Goats cheese filo tartlet served with a salad was equally impressive looking (a stern look curtailed any chance of getting a taste but I could see it was being enjoyed). A wonderful little quirk was the arrival of the hand cut chips to compliment that dish, rather than use a bowl the chips turned up in what looked like a stone beaker. Ok I’m sure it doesn’t make the chips taste better but it did seem to signify the care taking in presenting the food, a kind of comfortable, friendly informality that was reflected in the atmosphere in the restaurant.
So, my cynicism of the Early Bird experience was squarely knocked into touch by Matt & Lisa at Brooks Around The Corner who not only run a friendly and welcoming restaurant, but produced a menu of food whose quality and portion sizes were worth every penny and would easily compete with dishes I’ve paid twice the price for.
I’ve already recommended the restaurant to friends and look forward to returning, in fact I’m sorely tempted by their “Demo & Dine” evenings where I can pick up a few tips for my own culinary exploits at home.
Well done Brooks Around The Corner, you are a credit to the town of Oswestry!
Member since: 19th May 2011
Freelance writer for country, environmental, gardening & poultry magazines (incl Oswestry based Country & Border Life).