Hearty wholesome country pub dining at The Plough Inn at Eaton, Cheshire

Between Christmas and New Year during that period where no-one knows what day of the week it is and you’ve finally stopped eating leftover turkey sandwiches, we like to go out for a cosy pub meal – a final ‘blow out’ before the New Year and gym membership renewal.

This year, we visited The Plough Inn – a beautiful half timbered, half Cheshire brick Inn in the rural hamlet of Eaton, which dates back some 400 years. It’s so beautiful, in fact, that my brother and his partner are set to get married there in 2024, making it the perfect choice for our family trip out.

The exterior of the Grade II listed pub is utterly breathtaking, with timber framing, sage painted door and a little red telephone box at the front of the venue, all illuminated with fairy lights for the December evening. Inside and to the right, you’ll likely find a wedding party celebrating getting hitched, but bear left and you’ll be able to scout out the nooks and snugs of this historic building and find a comfortable place to sit. We opted for the spot by the log burner for a cosy, country setting, pulling up a pew at a long table surrounded by rendered pannels and rural-inspired decor.

In the whole party, there were eight adults and two children dining, which included a vegan and two with allergies (dairy/soya), and it was great to see that there were starters, mains and dessert options that were suitable for every diner, which is a rarity. While Jake and I saved room for desserts, everyone else’s starters looked fantastic and well-presented, particularly the parsnip soup of the day and the flame grilled red pepper and lime hummus, served with tzatziki, sun blushed tomatoes and chargrilled flat bread for £6.50.

The main meals really were the showstoppers, though, with our table ordering a real selection of surf n turf, steak, pies, fish and chips, sea bass and falafel – and for the quality, the prices are more than reasonable. For example, the 8oz rump cost £20.95, served with onion rings and fries, while the locally-brewed Wincle Beer battered fish and triple cooked chips came in under £15. Jake’s fish and chips looked crisp and golden, served with a large portion of mushy peas, chip shop curry sauce and rustic tartare sauce for a real variety of flavour. I particularly liked that is was served on a sheet of The Daily Catch ‘newspaper’ – naturally noted by the family journalist.

I’d usually order a burger at the pub, but there was something about the steal and ale shortcrust pastry pie that kept bringing my attention back from the grills, and I’m so glad it did because it was worth every penny. I ordered the pie for £14.50, adding a wedge of stilton cheese for an additional £1.50, which was a chef’s kiss of a decision. The generously-sized pie came with a side of buttered garden peas and a jug of red wine gravy, as well as a basket of thick-cut triple cooked chips. For good measure, I added the garlic green beans and onion rings to share, priced at £3.25 each.

The shortcrust of the pie was buttery and perfectly crumbly, not at all soggy from the steak and ale filling which it encased. The melted blue cheese on top of the pie cut through the richness of the filling, and was a really great addition to the dish and well worth the extra money. Pies can sometimes find themselves a little scarce of meat, going big on the gravy to disguise the fact, but not in this case, where the bowl of pastry was practically overflowing with mouthfuls of melt-in-the-mouth beef. Meanwhile, the chips offered a crisp coating with fluffy inner, prime for dunking in the velvety red wine gravy.

I usually like to order sides to add a bit of excitement to the monotony of a main meal, and while the garlic green beans and onion rings were very nice, they weren’t necessarily needed in this case, because I thorougly revelled in every single bite. What’s more is that, although I was certainly full, the dish didn’t lie heavy on my stomach like I’d typically find with a pub meal, which meant I could just about squeeze in a sweet before the end of the evening.

I knew I’d never finish a full pudding, and neither would Jake, so we shared the sticky toffee pudding for £6.50. The doorstop of a dessert came served with a small scoop of salted caramel ice cream and a divine sweet and sticky salted caramel sauce, and was still too big for us to polish off between us. The sponge was soft and light, and while it was moist, it definitely needed the sauce and ice cream to accompany it.

The bill total for all 10 people was around the £300 mark, so around £30 per person, give or take – mine and Jakes was £35 per person – which for starters, mains, desserts and drinks is really quite good when we’ve spent over £100 dining out alone at places like The Sheet Anchor.

The Plough Inn at Eaton offers a gorgeous rustic setting with really wonderful, high quality, flavoursome food for an affordable price. Located on the Macclesfield Road, it’s a stone’s throw from some fantastic Cheshire walks like Dane’s Moss and The Cloud, making it the ideal spot to make a pitstop for a pint or some hearty pub grub. If you fancy booking in for yourself, you can find all you need to know, as well as sample menus, on The Plough Inn website.

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