Dining Out at The Brownlow Arms
It’s one of the most consistently excellent, comfortable and satisfying dining experiences in Lincolnshire, promising good old-fashioned country hospitality. No wonder, then, our readers voted The Brownlow Arms their favourite restaurant in our 2022 Good Food Awards…
Some Things Never Change. Some things should… but others really shouldn’t, and definitely falling into the latter category is The Brownlow Arms at Hough on the Hill. Since 1979, Paul & Lorraine Willoughby have been custodians of the 17th century country inn, formerly owned by Lord Brownlow, at Hough on the Hill. Paul initially purchased the property with his
parents before he became sole owner in 1983. Together they renovated The Brownlow before selling it in 1999, and then returning in 2003 to a run down premises which lead to them giving the Brownlow another make-over.
Their long-term custodianship of the place underwrites The Brownlow Arms’ rock solid reputation for consistency and quality; it’s one of those ‘can’t go wrong’ dining options. So what do you do when you’ve acquired a reputation over 43 years for excellence, two AA rosettes for your dining, an award from Hardens, one from the Good Food Guide, and the title Restaurant of the Year as voted for by Lincolnshire Pride’s readers?
You could increase the number of covers? No. You could increase the complexity of the food? No. You could just hike up the prices? No, no and no. Instead, Paul and Lorraine, along with chefs Matt, David and Lizzy have opted to reduce the number of covers a little to ensure the team has the headroom to work to the best of their ability.
They’ve ceased to offer lunchtime dining, enabling the staff to concentrate on the quality and consistency of their evening menu, and they’ve ensured they all work well together. This has created a happy, close-knit team which is reflected in the quality of the excellent dining experience.
Sous Chef David Newton points out – whilst treating our saddle of venison to a few spoonfuls of its silken red wine jus – that a good sauce takes time. If they were juggling prep for evening service with lunchtime covers, compromise would be needed, and the team doesn’t really do compromise; rather, it does quality. What’s nice, too, is a single menu, with six starters, and six main courses plus two steaks.
Speaking as someone who can’t abide complicated or extensive menus, or different menus according to the time of day or day of the week, plus specials boards and promotions, I find it refreshing. In the half dozen or so options per course, the chefs are confident you’ll find something you’ll love, and they’re confident that they’ll be able to have the time and practice to perfect every single dish.
The Brownlow Arms limits its number of covers to 64 on a Saturday evening, and to 90 for Sunday lunch service. This does mean that booking is more essential than ever, but it also means you’re likely to experience a team able to really flex their creative talents. Sauces, ice creams, sorbets are all made in house, but bread comes from the nearby Hambleton Bakery, whose artisan dough-wranglers have the expertise and commitment to produce the best bread in the district.
Puddings, meanwhile, are created by dedicated pastry chef Lizzy Goodwin. Chefs David and Matt reckon that desserts are more intricate and time-consuming than starters or main courses. Lizzy, fortunately, has the methodical character, precision and patience to produce some absolutely stunning puddings and we reckon she’s probably one of the best – if not the best – chefs in the whole county in the respect of producing desserts. And again, Lizzy is also given the time and headroom she needs to create some really great puddings, as well as the restaurants’ petit fours, too. Ingredients are sourced locally when there’s no concession to quality. Fruit and veg is sourced from Donington farm, Peterborough Game provides game from estates like Belton, and butchery is from Owen Taylor.
The Brownlow Arms’ wine list, too, is beautifully curated with 15 reds, 15 whites, half a dozen sparkling options plus rosé and dessert wines and bin ends.
Popular both with those who live reasonably close to the restaurant as well as those from a little further afield, Paul and Lorraine also maintain six nicely styled bedrooms for guests who wish to stay over. Paul says that the number of repeat customers they have is really satisfying and that since 1979, the offspring of their customers have also become regular diners.
“We love living in the village and we’re delighted to have had the opportunity to get to know so many customers over the years,” says Paul. “Dining out is all about creating a warm, welcoming experience. We want to create a place that’s comfortable, friendly, and that consistently offers the very best experience to our guests.”
On the Menu
Steak tartare, cornichons, capers, toasted Hambleton bread, £13.75.
Pan fried scallops, pea purée, fresh peas, basil and lemon emulsion, £14.75.
Moules Mariniere, white wine, shallot and garlic, cream sauce), £10.95.
Brownlow twice baked Lincolnshire poacher cheese soufflé, creamed leeks, crispy onion, £12.95
Belton park saddle of venison, carrot puree, tender stem broccoli, mini venison cottage pie, red wine jus, pickled silver skin onions, £29.95.
Pan fried sea trout, sauteed peas and baby gem, Champagne beurre blanc, caviar, £26.95.
Seafood linguine (mussels, prawns, scallops) rocket and parmesan, chilli oil, £26.50.
Churchill farm chicken Kiev, hassle back potatoes, watercress sauce, £24.95.
White chocolate and Baileys bread and butter pudding, crème Anglaise, £9.95
Dark chocolate fondant, £9.95.
Assiette of lemon Lemon posset with crème Chantilly, lemon and pistachio parfait, white chocolate and lemon blondie, lemon curd £9.95.
Brownlow Arms, Grantham Road, Hough on the Hill, NG32 2AZ.
Call 01400 250234 or see www.thebrownlowarms.com.