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Nothing beats discovery. Be it finding out you like something you never thought you did, or finding a fiver in your wallet, it’s always a truly joyous moment.
And so it was that the new-look Whittington Arms has become a hidden gem that I’ve stumbled upon.
I must confess I visited the pub on a couple of occasions in the past when it ticked all the old chain pub boxes – bland food, standard drinks and dull interior. But if you ever needed proof that a venue can drastically reinvent itself then the Whittington Arms is it.
Now a modern, fresh and accomodating interior, it has that touch of class that you seldom find in the modern climate of cheap and cheerful.
But atmosphere and welcoming decor is one thing – going out for a meal and anticipating fine dining is another altogether. Thankfully, this venue has substance behind its style.
Service from the outset was attentive, with staff who clearly knew about their menu who were able to advise on choosing from a varied menu. It was on this advice that I opted for the French onion and port soup with a Wensleydale cheese crouton to start. On the other side of the table it was deep-fried breaded Somerset brie with an orange and redcurrant dressing to kick-off proceedings.
Both starters were instant hits, oozing flavour with the onion soup in particular benefiting from the kick of the port. It’s fair to say that the starters alone contained more flavour than many of the entire three-course offerings I’ve sampled from pubs with restaurants attached.
So with the starters well and truly polished off, it was on to the main courses. One side of the table saw a mouthwatering fillet steak with chicken pâté on toasted brioche, served with a Madeira sauce, rocket salad and home-cut chunky chips arrive, while the other enjoyed a chicken breast on cabbage in a peppercorn sauce offered up by the apparently ever-changing Thursday night grill menu.
The steak in particular created a real stir, with a beautifully succulent piece of meat partnered by pâté packed with taste. Similarly, the chicken benefited from an excellent quality and perfectly-cooked breast, with a sauce that enjoyed just enough pepper kick to offer flavour but not overpower.
As well as good food there was also the opportunity to enjoy conversation over our meal, despite the fact the Whittington Arms was packed out on the midweek night we visited. Music was played throughout the restaurant, but not to a level that meant you struggled to hear yourself think – and thinking was something I really needed to be able to do when it came to dessert.
Eventually, unable to choose between a scrumptious-sounding selection, the decision went to a sharing platter that showcased the best of their desserts.
The plate included chocolate brownie, treacle and ginger tart, cappuccino cheesecake & Movenpick vanilla ice-cream. It sounded good on the menu and it’s fair to say it tasted even better with a perfect blend of textures and taste to round off a refreshing evening of pub dining.
The Whittington Arms has definitely reinvented itself as a modern venue for those wanting to enjoy a meal in the Lichfield area. It may be a tad pricier than some of your more traditional pub grub, but this is definitely not pub grub you are paying for.
And if it means getting restaurant quality food instead of the bland offerings that are all too often dressed up as pub dining, then that little bit extra is surely worth paying.
French onion and port soup with a Wensleydale cheese crouton: £4.75
Deep-fried breaded Somerset brie with an orange and redcurrant dressing: £4.95
Fillet steak with chicken pâté on toasted brioche, served with a Madeira sauce, rocket salad and home-cut chunky chips: £17.95
Chicken breast on cabbage with dauphinoise potatoes in a peppercorn sauce: £10.95
Pudding sharer: £10.50
For more information on the Whittington Arms, visit the website.