There’s no denying Staffordshire and Cheshire are full of quaint country pubs, and each one of them has something unique to offer.
Whether you’re looking for a slap-up Sunday roast, a good old pint of bitter or dozens of different kinds of gin, you’re guaranteed to find something to cater to your needs.
Countless pubs are often recognised for their food and drink in various travel, food and drink guides, and travel guide Sawday’s , which specialises in finding special places across the UK, have also picked their top choices.
Here are their picks for venues which are all under an hour’s drive from Stoke-on-Trent and what they’ve said about each one:
The Fitzherbert Arms – 18-minute drive from Hanley
Swynnerton, near Stone
“In the old village of Swynnerton on Lord Stafford’s estate is the spruce and dog-friendly Fitzherbert, perfect for a pint after a winter’s walk.
“Bar, lounge and snug are warmed by three delicious fires.
“A vivacious team ferry platefuls of flavoursome food to elegant tables: seafood platters, steak and stout pies, crumbles, brownies and local cheeses. They do a great line in comfort food, have a good list of local suppliers, and Staffordshire ales star at the pumps.
“That’s before you factor in the biggest selection of port by the bottle of any pub in the UK (they’re the UK’s first Graham’s Port Ambassador), 16 wines by the glass and real cider, too.
“The 1818 building once held a forge and the Anvil Room has leather wingback chairs, and hops above a soft-lit wall.
“Gather a party of up to 40, and book the Staffordshire Room for a very special occasion.”
The George – 45-minute drive from Hanley
“The welcome is warm, the wine list is inventive and the food is fabulous. Young chefs are creative with local, seasonal produce so try fillet of Derbyshire beef with shallot tarte tatin or book in for a tasting menu evening.
“Vegetarian dishes are super too, maybe chargrilled raddichio with puy lentils and butternut squash.
“Set in this verdant Eden, the handsome George is an ultra-reliable local, lovingly owned and managed by Siobhan and Graham.
“As you walk into neat rooms of old beams, gleaming quarry tiles, a crackling log fire, you know you’re in safe hands. It’s an unhurried place, where everyone knows everyone else (or soon will).
“The 18th-century coaching house is perfect for private parties. To walk it off, wander through the limestone village, perched on a plateau between the gorges of the rivers Dove and Manifold.”
The Duncombe Arms – 31-minute drive from Hanley
This edge-of-village pub with rooms is gorgeous inside and out, with just the right balance of old and new charm. And the food is fantastic.
“The bar is sleek and stylishly laid out, with rustic nooks to settle into, the music plays discreetly and the food is absolutely beautiful.
“Diners include many regulars and returning Londoners, even though this is Staffordshire. James is passionate about making the Duncombe excel, and excel it does: the staff are on the ball and there’s a top team in the kitchen, headed by Gary Auld.
“Platefuls of flavoursome food, modern British with touches of rusticity, are delivered to inviting tables in dining areas cosy, lofty, private, airy or al fresco; take your pick.
“Our pollack with crushed potatoes, crabmeat and purple sprouting broccoli was faultless.
“The extensive wine list is impressive, 13 top malts, Duncombe Ale on tap, and in summer you can spill into a huge garden with views across the Dove Valley.”
The Roebuck – 45-minute drive from Hanley
Mill Lane, Mobberley
“From the cobbled pavement planted with trees to the split-level terrace that catches the sun, you’ll believe you’re in a French valley rather than an English village whose lucky residents now have a third offering from the Cheshire Cat team.
“The Roebuck dates back to 1708, restored with extraordinary love and style. Rustic shutters, shipped from France, sit prettily on the pink-brick masonry.
“Café tables, wine-red leather settles, mirrors, candles and a host of wine bottles make a colourful backdrop for tasty lunches and dinners with a classic bistro touch: tempura monkfish, Thai sweet and sour sauce, herb roasted baby chicken, a sharing board with mortadella and Bosciola olives. Sample local craft beers and ciders, let the wine list tempt you, or indulge in one of the ‘seven deadly gins of the season’. Devilishly good.”
The Church Inn – 45-minute drive from Hanley
Church Lane, Mobberley
“Here you have 90 wines by the bottle to quaff and a gin distillery to boot. The Big Hill Distillery, run by local residents Ben and David, has the award-winning Spirit of George, named after Mobberley’s most famous son, the mountaineer George Mallory.
“There’s a private dining room named after him too, catering for 24, or you can take the Chef’s Library for a more intimate meal with eight. Small weddings can be held in the pretty garden.
“On a winter’s day, it’s hard to leave, with craft ales on tap and great food: homemade venison burger, lamb hot pot or market fish of the day, then a sticky date bread and butter pud. Summer terraces give views of the church and countryside. A village gem.”
The Bull’s Head – 45-minute drive from Hanley
Mill Lane, Mobberley
“You feel the warmth as soon as you walk through the door of this pretty village pub. Candles glow on the tables, fires crackle, and the staff couldn’t be nicer.
“It’s brimming with history too (sports firm, Umbro, was founded here in 1924) and famously dog-friendly.
“Under a low-beamed ceiling, seven hand pumps dispense the finest local ales from Bull’s Head Bitter, White Bull and Cheshire Cat as well as the inimitable Mobberley Wobbly – ale is king!
“Add in a Highland extravaganza of over 100 whiskies and other tempting brews and you have the makings of a celebration. Chef Andy cooks ‘pub classics from the heart’ with full English flavours; the steak and ale pie is a fully encased masterpiece in itself, and the homemade Bakewell tart with raspberry ripple ice cream too indulgent for words. With outside tables for sunny days, this is as good as it gets for a village pub.”
The Swan – 44-minute drive from Hanley
Wrenbury Road, Marbury
“Wonderfully restored village pub with hearty foodie menus, great walks, and an excellent wine list and historic Chester close for shopping.
“If that doesn’t tempt you, take a pew at the bar (constructed from old chemistry lab tables) and order from the excellent daily changing menus which include braised beef and oxtail steamed suet pudding, vegetarian option – chestnut mushroom and smoked cheese pot pie – leaving room for nicely Northern puddings like baked apple and sultana charlotte with stem ginger custard.
“You’re three miles from Whitchurch, seven from Nantwich, while a 30 minute drive takes you to Market Drayton, and 40 minutes to Chester. A treat of a pub.”
The Cholmondeley Arms – 54-minute drive from Hanley
Wrenbury Road, Cholmondeley, Malpas
“The sandblasted brick walls of this famously dog-friendly old school house rise to raftered, vaulted ceilings and large windows pull natural light into every corner.
“Cartoons and photos nestle amongst old sporting paraphernalia, and oriental rugs sprawl beneath tables, pews and chairs. The glorious carved oak bar dominates the main hall, offering the malted charms of Cholmondeley Best Bitter and other local ales as well as a staggering 366 varieties of ruinously good gin (the charming staff will help you choose); they’re the UK’s Best Gin Pub for 2020.
“Study the blackboard menus or opt for sharing a seafood trawler board followed by their legendary steak and kidney pie. There’s an annual Gin Fest, and Juniper Berry Music Festival in July. Weddings can be held in the grounds. Seldom has going back to school been this much fun.”