From the outside it looks like an unassuming country pub – but anyone venturing in for a bite to eat will find the food is anything but ordinary.
Steak and chips is still the best-selling dish at the Pony & Trap in Newtown, Chew Magna. But the pub’s wide-ranging menu of mainly locally-sourced food has won it the restaurant business’ most coveted seal of approval – a Michelin Star.
The Pony & Trap in Chew Magna has won a Michelin Star
The Pony & Trap stands in Knowle Hill, a country lane about a mile from the village centre. That lane could now be seeing a lot more traffic as food lovers alerted by the prestigious gastronomic guide visit to taste the food.
The pub is run by former City of Bristol College student Josh Eggleton, who said he was “totally shocked” when he first heard about the award.
“I actually feel sick – I don’t even know if I deserve this,” said the 27-year-old chef minutes after the award was announced and just after getting off the phone to his mother.
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Mr Eggleton said he knew he had had at least three visits from Michelin inspectors last year, including one from new editor Rebecca Burr, but just assumed they were in the area anyway.
“They didn’t announce themselves, but I could just tell they were from Michelin,” said Mr
Eggleton, who started cooking in local pubs at the age of 17. The chef then worked at the Olive Shed restaurant in Bristol’s Harbourside and, in 2003, won a Gordon Ramsay college scholarship. He took over the Pony & Trap in 2006. Mr Eggleton uses predominantly local suppliers at the 200-year-old pub, including The Valley Smokehouse at Chew Magna and Castellano’s of Fishponds. He makes much of the food from scratch at the pub.
He said:“We’ve been raising our game constantly over the past year, just little things like churning our own butter and making our own black pudding. I also rear my own pigs and had them slaughtered last week – perhaps it was little things like that which Michelin liked.”
Typical dishes on the menu at the Pony & Trap include curried cauliflower soup with Parmesan and rabbit stew with smoked bacon, baby onions, wild mushrooms and mustard, but pub food is also served in the bar, as well as local real ales and ciders.
Mr Eggleton said: “This is a simple pub serving simple food. On a typical Saturday night, we do 60 covers and 30 of those are steaks. One Michelin inspector said that to get a star even the steak and chips has to be the best steak and chips so we use the best beef, we triple-cook the chips and we slow-roast the tomatoes.
“We’re not going to change anything now that we’ve won the star because we won it for what we’ve already been doing. We just need to make sure it’s consistently good.”
A three-course meal at the Pony & Trap averages around £25 per person but a plate of ham, egg and chips or a ploughman’s costs as little as £6.95. The only other Bristol restaurant with a Michelin star is Casamia in Westbury-on-Trym.
A one-star rating, under the famous guide which was first published in the early 1900s, means “very good cuisine in its category”.
The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2011 is available now, priced at £15.99