Just a few miles from Manchester, muddy boots – and indeed muddy paws – are welcome at the Pack Horse, run by young couple Luke and Emma.
From the outside, it’s a beautiful, traditional, dog-friendly country pub. But the food is exceptional.
And these last few weeks, head chef Luke Payne’s menu, which is all about using the best seasonal, sustainable, ethically sourced British produce, much of which is local, has started to receive national attention.
In October, national critic Marina O’Loughlin gave the gastropub a glowing review in The Sunday Times.
“The food is so good, so classically good, it’s hard to believe the backstory, astonishing to find out that Payne is self-taught,” she wrote.
“His menus are the sexiest things, short enough to reassure but rammed with loveliness.”
But despite there being “often something elevated and unexpected: scrumpet with duck; crispy oysters with Gigha halibut; purple sprouting broccoli turned into a thing of heady luxury…,” she wrote, “none of this is to say that the Pack Horse has lost sight of what the perfect village pub should be.
“There are still chips and onion rings; divine, both: crisp, golden and greaseless.
“I have a starter of High Peak lamb kofte followed by venison wellington – basically a posh version of a kebab and a pie.”
As we said ourselves on a recent visit, the local estate venison loin wellington (£24) certainly is a showstopper and no mistake, cooked perfectly pink with miso-roast chicory, plump pickled blackberries and a red wine sauce.
This week, the village pub has received two more high profile accolades.
First came the news that the Pack Horse has been named one of the top gastropubs in the country, thanks to an inclusion in the 2022 Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list.
What position the venue receives will be revealed in January, but it’s a fantastic achievement to be included in the ultimate foodie pubs list.
And today, the Pack Horse has been acknowledged by Michelin inspectors, with a place in the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2022.
It’s one of 30 new restaurants to be added to the guide, ahead of the annual launch ceremony, when the new Michelin Stars, Bib Gourmands and Green Stars will be unveiled.
“Real ales and weekly quiz nights help this traditional stone pub to remain a true village local,” says the guide.
“Hearty pub dishes come with a refined edge and the Manchester (Scotch) Egg has become something of a signature.
“Characterful open fires mix with warm, contemporary décor, and it’s run by a friendly team.”
We couldn’t agree more. Looks like this local favourite is about to become a national treasure.