March 8, 2016

Rewind 14 years to when I was 10 years old and my brother was 14. With our parents, we used to spend many Sundays together eating great food in restaurants. One of them was The Stanley Arms in Northwich, Cheshire.

Sunday was Mother’s Day and most of us ritualise going out for a meal every year, so we booked a table at The Stanley Arms. There were 16 of us in total, from nephews and nieces, aunties and uncles and of course, to mother’s – except my rested nan.

We were tempted to spend the day at The Riverside Inn but it was a little far out for some people and plus I’d already been there once this week. So we stripped right back to the basics with this homely place.

The Stanley Arms Experience

Mother's Day Gathering At The Stanley Arms

I consider this to be a typical British pub; Resembling a large house with a distinctive deep red board with its name on and carpets like you’d see in your grandparent’s living room.

It’s deceivingly a lot smaller inside than it appears, but I guess 10 or so car parking spaces sums up the amount of customers they can hold at one time. Sharing a car makes parking a lot easier… plus everyone then arrives together at the same time.

The exterior of The Stanley Arms has huge potential. People want to visit a set back restaurant to spend time with family in a homely setting. Although, it may be time for new windows and a new coat of paint to smooth over the cracks that have come with age. (After all, I’ve been coming here for 10 years at least).

Around the side of the pub is a conservatory which provides spectacular views of the nearby canal and a large open garden for customers to soak up the sun (although not in March’s weather).

Watching the boats pass by on a summer’s day gives the pub charisma and keeps the kids entertained when you just fancy chilling with a cold beer. But with the cold weather not showing any signs of going, we remained inside for the day.

Mother's Day Gathering At The Stanley Arms

Honestly, it looked like a completely different place from my last visit; I don’t know whether it’s been redecorated or that I was giving it more attention this time, but I was massively impressed.

It’s the small things that engrossed me: the coat hangers to make you feel like you’re coming home, the beams on the ceilings to keep it traditional and the dated wall lights to highlight the room’s beiges, browns and creams.

Once you enter, there are two lounges – one for people booking a meal and I couldn’t quite work out the other one, although there was a dog and a large table. Perhaps it’s a private room you can hire.

You’re instantly greeted with the bar and then led to your table by a waitress waiting to take you. It was a smooth transition from the door to your table, where as in some places you don’t quite know where to go or where to stand.

Mother's Day Gathering At The Stanley Arms

The place itself is small with only about seven tables – one of them being a large one near the bar where we sat. The views from the window show the large garden with outdoor seating and nearby houses.

The pub makes no attempt in falsifying its surroundings: houses and a chemical company are all peeking through the trees. But that’s the beauty of this place. You won’t be lied to. It is what it is and they make no attempt in portraying themselves as an upper class restaurant, when respectfully, they are not – and that’s why their customers love it so much!

Similar to the menu. They themselves describe it as “simple”. If you’re looking for lobster, chandeliers and to be waited on hand on foot, this is not the place. If however, you want to go back to your roots, have a meal and get on with the rest of your day, and not have to make too much effort in what to wear and what to eat, then this is restaurant does exactly that. Nothing more.

What Food You Can Eat At This British Pub

Mother's Day Gathering At The Stanley Arms

I won’t lie. After spending nearly the whole weekend snacking on chocolate and Doritos and dip, chips and a heavy Sunday dinner didn’t cast my eye.

To many of our disappointments, the menu was a Mother’s Day special only. Nothing else from their ordinary menu was to be served. Instead they were offering the choice of the following, plus a handful of other meals from their specials board:

(This is not extensive).

Starters

  • Cream of vegetable soup
  • Atlantic prawn cocktail
  • Breaded brie wedges

Main Courses

  • Liver, bacon and onions
  • Cod and chips
  • Stilton and vegetable crumble

Desserts

  • Bread and butter pudding
  • Bramley apple pie
  • Chocolate fudge cake

I opted for the sweet potato, spinach and chickpea curry with rice. And that was exactly what it was. Although I like simple food – not too much flavouring, herbs and spices, or anything that’s messy to eat, it felt like there wasn’t much care put into its presentation.

It tasted delicious and pure, but its consistency brought its score down from an eight to a six; it was too runny to be considered a curry and the balance between rice and curry was a little off. It felt like it was easier to prepare more of a packet of rice than the main part of the meal.

Everyone else seemed to enjoy theirs, and the service was excellent too; I guess that’s the main benefit of a small and ‘simple’ restaurant.

Among catching up with family we haven’t seen in a few months, we all questioned “how do they make money here?”

It’s to be expected that people wonder this because their prices are the average amount for a meal out and lower than you’d expect for a small restaurant. But, as there’s a park nearby, people often visit here for a refreshing and light snack to perk them up.

You don’t need to make use of their wifi here, but put your phone down and surround yourself with loved ones. Don’t over expect. If you’re hungry and need a tasty meal, here’s your place. There’s not really much seating area to chill and have a coffee after a meal, so it’s merely a place for filling your stomach and leaving.

You won’t find homemade pies, comfy seating and a TV to watch live sports here, and that’s okay. It’s nice to have a change from a typical restaurant where you’re awkwardly waiting to be seated and having to ask where your food is after 30 minutes.

As it is in a small setting, the staff are friendly and welcoming. You won’t leave without them thanking you for your custom, but you will leave smiling, with a full belly and the desire to extend the day with something else fun to do together with your family.

Happy Mother’s Day mum.

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