Delight in rustic quality and class.
I'D often driven past The Travellers Rest along New Mill Road on my way to various bowling events at New Mill and Brockholes and the pub had always caught my eye as a homely-looking, traditional spot that must be well worth a visit.
Well, I finally got my wish when one recent Saturday night it was suggested that we bob along and try it out.
It has always had a great reputation for good, honest food, but would it have changed from my boyfriend Dale's recollection of fantastic breaded garlic mushrooms stuffed with pate, several years ago? The board outside modestly advertises its quiz, pie and fish nights - but there is far more to Paul and Samantha Bloor's brilliant business than that.
We hadn't pre-booked so it was with fingers crossed that we entered, hoping that we were not going to end up back home ordering a takeaway.
And I can honestly say that from the moment we entered I have rarely felt so at ease at an eaterie.
We ordered a couple of pints of real ale - Jennings' Cumberland and Wychwood's Wychcraft, while there was also Marston's Pedigree available on draught too - and we were greeted warmly and offered a choice of dining in the bar area or restaurant, with both featuring the same menu. We took a table in the middle of the lovely bare stone and wooden-beamed restaurant and the delightful waitress helpfully pointed out that all the meals were displayed on the large chalk board at the back of the room.
There was a choice of eight starters and a dozen mains ... "Hmmm, now this may take a while to decide," I thought!
I fancied the smoked salmon and prawn platter (pounds 6.95) and Dale plumped for the rustic ham hock terrine with toast (pounds 4.95).
There was a lovely atmosphere in the dining room with couples chattering away. Sometimes there can be an almost intimidatory atmosphere in dining areas, not here where the helpful, happy staff create a really relaxed and chilled atmosphere, leaving the quality of the food to speak for itself. And it did.
I love starters and my generous salmon and prawn platter could have passed for a light lunch. The sauce and seasoning was delicate and subtle, allowing the fish to take centre-stage. I didn't want it to end!
Dale's ham hock terrine looked fantastic, served on a wooden platter, and he said it tasted even better. The tender ham just fell apart and melted in the mouth, while his accompanying dressed salad and chunky slices of toasted bread were simply to savour.
For mains I had chargrilled chicken in garlic and lemon with a feta salad (pounds 9.95) and Dale went for baked fillet of haddock with cheese and asparagus (pounds 9.95).
The succulent chicken was fantastic and the plate beautifully decorated with sauce which felt like a shame to disturb while the feta salad accompaniment was genius with the tangy feta cheese cutting through the delicate light dressing of the leafy salad.
The baked fillet of haddock also looked mouthwatering and divine. Dale said it was baked to perfection while the buttery, light, cheese sauce and asparagus was a brilliant combination. Both heartily-portioned dishes came with a selection of seasonal vegetables plus we chose a bowl each of new potatoes and chips to share. By now, it must come as no surprise, that these were also spot on and particular mention must be made to the homemade chips which were golden, chunky and melted in the mouth.
After a bit of a rest, we got our second wind, and headed to the sweet board where there were at least half a dozen to choose from.
The brandy snap basket with forest fruits leapt out to me while the kindly waitress pointed Dale towards the toffee crunch which, she assured him, was a firm favourite.
Both remained of the excellent standard we had become accustomed to during the evening and were served with a scrumptiously light vanilla ice cream.
To round off a really wonderful evening with a special treat Dale chose a Grand Marnier coffee from another chalk board which displayed a varied range of coffee liqueurs, brandies and cognacs.
And I'd advise diners to round off your meal with one of those.
On his website, Paul Bloor says: "We have been running Travellers Rest for over seven years, although we have over 40 years of experience within the industry.
"We enjoy an excellent reputation in the region thanks to the high quality of our customer care and the excellent standard of our food and drink. "Our Sunday lunches in particular are quite well known in the area and our friendly and welcoming staff are more than happy to help with any enquiry that you may have.
"We stock a wide variety of traditional ales as well as using locally sourced produce to give our meals an authentic feel and taste."
I can firmly vouch for every word he states there.
DINING BLISS: I loved the rustic charm of The Travellers Rest restaurant with wooden beams and modern art on the stone walls (PW010910Erest)