WORD of mouth is arguably the best form of recommendation. Judging by the packed restaurant at the new-look Hatton Arms, which had not been open a week when went along, word is clearly spreading fast that this is a place worth visiting, something I would certainly second.
The country pub – for many years known as The Waterman – was originally a coaching inn which has stood overlooking the famous flight of Hatton Locks for more than 200 years.
The recent makeover has retained the historic character while creating a contemporary, and most importantly, a warm, relaxed and welcoming environment for customers both old and new.
It is many years since I stepped over the threshold, but it won’t be so long until I return on my recent experience.
The menu has been created with the same careful thought as the physical surrounding. It is classic British with an emphasis on locally sourced fresh seasonal ingredients. While that may sound simple, many an fall short when it actually arrives on the plate. Not so from the kitchen of head chef Jakub Fijak, who has returned to the Hatton Arms after five years, and he has clearly not been idle during those years away.
We began with a starter selection which included a wonderfully refreshing Devon crab and avocado toast, a melt-in-the-mouth Air-dried beef with parmesan shavings, and star of the show, a joyously comforting Leeky Welsh rarebit on sourdough toast. On the starter specials when we visited was an equally impressive portobello mushrooms with blue cheese.
Mains saw us opt for the handmade pie – the day’s choice being chicken, ham and leek. A great pastry was packed with a piping hot rich creamy filling. It comes served with mash or chips and seasonal veg and gravy. if served with too many chips is a fault then that was the only one.
The good lady opted for the Pan fried sea bass fillets with an Asian twist. The perfectly cooked fish was served with delicately spiced Bombay potatoes which did not overpower. The accompanying Indian salad, while tasty, would however have benefited from being chopped a little finer, particularly the onion. A fine dish all the same and one which is sure to prove very popular.
We shared an excellent creme brulee to finish – not overly set and not with a light caramel crust – which was served with a homemade lemon shortbread.
There is a carefully selected, but not daunting, selection of wines to suit all tastes, together with a range of draught beers, organic ciders and spirits.
Service throughout was excellent. Staff are attentive and friendly without being overbearing, and pleasingly, well acquainted with the menu being served.
Part of the 900-acre Hatton Estate owned by Johnnie and Arabella Arkwright, The Hatton Arms has been in the family for the past 180 years. The latest chapter in its long history has started very well indeed.
Visit www.hattonarms.com for further details.