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The Ugly Duckling occupies a handsome pub built in the early 1800s on what was fields used by farmers to rest and feed their livestock. The restoration has returned the building to its former glory but with a modern twist, combining the best of old and new.
The aim is to provide a casual and informal space but with no compromise on the quality of the food, a place where everybody should feel comfortable.
Their inspiration comes from dining tables across Europe. The food style is strong and bold, with an emphasis on simplicity and using the finest ingredients they can source.
The Chefs grill over charcoal and wood on their custom built grills throughout the year, in winter they will also brine, cure, smoke and braise. In the summer you might even catch the chefs cooking outside!
The Ugly Duckling,
Telephone: 01952 257 979
Located in Telford, The Ugly Duckling is one of numerous recent additions to Shropshire’s long list of high-quality eateries.
The new bar & grill opened its doors to the public back in August after undergoing a much-needed refurbishment.
On arrival there, we were greeted with broad, welcoming smiles from all the staff. The restaurant boasted cosy yet stylish décor and a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. It was packed out too - always an encouraging sign when you’re visiting somewhere for the first time.
To start, I opted for the whiskey and orange cured sea trout, served with charred and pickled fennel and dill and caper crème fraiche - a flavour combination I’d never come across before. It was a very tasty plate of food indeed. The whiskey and orange created a flavour that was subtle enough to ensure it didn’t overpower the taste of the fish. The fennel and crème fraiche was a perfect accompaniment, helping to bring the dish together.
My partner chose the braised beef and horseradish bon bons, served with roast garlic mayonnaise. The bon bons were made up of lightly battered shredded beef - a nice idea, and one which, again, I’d never previously encountered. I’d have liked a touch more seasoning in the beef, but that’s down to personal preference. My partner thought the dish was delicious.
The starters were certainly a success, and with that in mind, we couldn’t wait for our mains to arrive.
I chose the roast breast of duck, served with celeriac puree, shallot fondant and vanilla cream. The duck was cooked well and to my taste; the celeriac puree was rich, creamy and complemented the meat nicely. The vanilla cream added significantly to the sweetness of the dish. It was a flavour combination that may not suit all palates but it certainly suited mine. My only criticism was that I’d have liked crispy duck skin, but overall it was a tasty and well-thought-out dish.
My partner chose the slow braised lamb shank served with roast garlic mash and rosemary and redcurrant sauce. The lamb was cooked perfectly and melted in the mouth - I’d even go so far as to say that it was the nicest lamb shank I’ve ever tasted. The redcurrant sauce proved to be a fantastic accompaniment, as did the creamy garlic mash. It was definitely the best dish of the evening... At least until the desserts arrived.
Being a fan of savoury dishes, I rarely get excited about desserts - but these were to die for. The sticky baked meringue served with grilled banana and salted caramel was as naughty as it sounds, as was the sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream and toffee sauce. I’d return to The Ugly Duckling just for the desserts alone!
As well as the a la carte menu, The Ugly Duckling offers a grazing menu, a Sunday lunch menu and a ‘grilled over the pine’ menu, which consists of a variety of beef and pork steaks and skewers.
The service was fantastic. Alongside the tasty, well-presented food and modern surroundings, it certainly played its part in making the evening a thoroughly enjoyable one.
I very much look forward to returning to the venue in the future to further investigate its mouthwatering menu.
Reviewed by Lauren Foster