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dining: Cosy pub and delicious fare - the perfect union; THE OLD HAND AND DIAMOND, Shrewsbury.

Byline: ZOE CHAMBERLAIN

THE Old Hand and Diamond has provided a stop-off refreshment point for those travelling from Shropshire into Wales since the 17th century.

And it proved an excellent location for my sister Maxine on the night before her wedding.

Appropriately named for a pre-wedding meal (except, of course, she's young not old!), the cosy pub serves wholesome, homecooked grub.

It was packed on the night we went with what seemed like the entire restaurant booked out to a birthday party. However, we were happy to stay in the snug bar with its exposed beams and inglenook fireplace, keeping the bride-to-be happily topped up with white wine.

Situated in beautiful open countryside on the Powys/Shropshire border, the inn is just 15 minutes from Shrewsbury and has plenty of parking.

I had baked chicken breast (pounds 10.50) which was filled with cream cheese, red pepper and sundried tomatoes on a basil croute. The chicken was juicy and delicious, and the stuffing bursting with rich Mediterranean flavours. The only downside was the lack of vegetables.

That said I tucked into my sister's chips - it was a bountiful portion - which accompanied her haddock deep-fried in beer batter (pounds 7.50).

I thought I was going for the healthier option but it was actually Maxine who ended up with lots of mushy peas!

The total bill, including a glass of house wine and a soft drink, came to just under pounds 25.

I'm also told the pub serves excellent Sunday lunches!

The Old Hand and Diamond, Coedway, nr Shrewsbury, Shropshire (01743 884 379)

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 14, 2007
Words:265
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