Nestled in the Upper Onny Valley between the Stiperstones ridge and the Long Mynd - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that’s hugely popular with walkers, cyclists, mountain-bikers and photographers - The Coach House has been providing travellers with hospitality, warmth and comfort since the early 1700s. 

The unique country inn features seven bed & breakfast rooms and an AA rosette restaurant serving modern British food. Full of character and boasting numerous period features, its decor is modern rustic. 

The restaurant is open from Wednesday to Saturday and serves full a la carte and bar menus, with a lunch menu available on Fridays and Saturdays between noon and 2.30pm. My partner and I were lucky enough to be choosing from the Christmas menu on the evening we visited.

The kitchen is run singlehandedly by young chef Harry Bullock, who started working in the Michelin-starred La Becasse at just 12 years of age. He then went on to The Pound and Ludlow’s award-winning Fishmore Hall, where he was running a section before he’d even left school.

My partner and I started our debut Coach House experience with an appetiser of parsnip crisps and homemade cumin houmous. I’m not usually wowed by houmous, but this particular example was absolutely outstanding. Creamy, smooth and flavoursome, it was easily the tastiest I’d ever experienced. 

Next up, an amuse bouche of game terrine with golden raisins and pickled carrot. Intricate in its presentation and bursting with complementary festive flavours, it was another delicious dish. Things were certainly off to an excellent start.

We were conveniently sat near one of the restaurant’s two wood burning stoves. A combination of that, the low lighting and the rustic surroundings helped to create the perfect Christmas atmosphere.

Choosing from a menu of three starters, three mains and four desserts, I began with the Irish scallop cerviche. Served in its shell and comprising delicately cut pieces of orange accompanied by scallop, fennel and a dill dressing, the dish was light and fresh, bursting with colour and boasting some truly magnificent flavour combinations. 

My partner’s choice was equally good - cider-glazed pig cheek atop a wholegrain mustard pomme puree and a rich apple & pork sauce. It was the perfect dish with which to whet our appetite for the courses to follow.

The Coach House uses seasonal ingredients, focusing where possible on local artisanal products. Everything is homemade - even the irresistible sourdough, of which we had two portions. 

I chose the local venison for my main dish; my partner, the thyme gnocchi. Beautifully presented, my dish featured pieces of soft and perfectly cooked venison and salsify fondant atop circles of parsnip puree and venison sauce, finished with cavolo nero and hazelnut pieces. It was wonderful. Harry the chef is a formidable talent. His culinary flair, technical excellence and immense passion for his trade really does come across in the beautiful plates of food he produces. And the fact that he’s doing it all on his own is seriously impressive!

Similar in its presentation, the gnocchi, as with the houmous, was by far the nicest I’d ever tasted. Roasted in butter, both the flavour and texture were outstanding. It was served alongside textures of Jerusalem artichoke and winter purple sprouting broccoli. 

For dessert, we opted for the Christmas pudding and the Paris Brest - a traditional French dish made of choux pastry and a caramelised almond-flavoured cream. The decadent pastry - similar to a giant profiterole - was topped with 33% chocolate ganache. Yet another fantastic dish, both in its presentation and its flavour. 

It’s tricky to choose a favourite dish because everything was so good, but I think Harry’s take on a Christmas pudding just about stole the show on the evening we visited. Imaginative and creative, this certainly wasn’t your traditional Christmas pudding. Encased in a chocolate-topped spiced tuille was Christmas pudding ice cream and parfait. The cylinder of creamy heaven was sat on a quenelle of chocolate ganache and served with Hine ice cream. Simply divine. 

“Can I tempt you with some petits fours?” our exemplary waiter asked. Due to the fact that we’d practically licked every plate spotless, I think he already knew what our answer was going to be. The incredibly tasty homemade milk chocolate fudge and hazelnut and chocolate macaroons provided the perfect end to a memorable evening.  

Dining at The Coach House is a truly stunning experience. From the beautiful flavours and impeccable presentation of the food, to the kind and welcoming service and warm, unpretentious atmosphere, it’s well worth the drive out into the sticks. It was definitely one of my restaurant highlights of 2018. 

Please note: The Coach House is closed throughout January but will open again in February.

***** Lauren Foster