Last week I jumped in the car and drove out to the Horse and Jockey in Wilmslow. I’ve been to Wilmslow many times as there is a pub crawl my friends love doing. I was surprised I hadn’t heard of the Horse and Jockey before, that is, until I tried to find it! Located on Gravel Road in a very residential area you could almost say it is on the border of Alderley Edge. I did wonde what clientele the pub would be trying to attract in such an affluent yet residential location slightly off the beaten track.
The Horse and Jockey is everything a country pub should be. A large bar area with groups congregating after work as well as cosy seating areas where you can either grab a quick bite or enjoy a drink with friends. There is also a nice outdoor seating area for sunnier days and a car park for those, like me, who live that bit further afield.
Seated in a booth Rachel and I decided to go for some of the Wilmslow Tapas. I’m a huge fan of Spanish food and incredibly picky when it comes to the different flavour combinations so was interesting to see what the Wilmslow spin on this would be. Head chef Gary Peill has won AA rosettes as well as ‘best gastro pub in the North West’ so I had high hopes for what he could create.
The menu is fairly simple with the Wilmslow Tapas taking up the most room and some classic dishes including fish and chips, pie of the day and burgers thrown in for the more ravenous. I expected there to be a separate menu for the tapas as a compliment to the menu rather than dominate it. It would have to be good!
We kicked things off with a pot of bread complete with olive oil and balsamic for dipping as well as some mixed olives. Rachel polished off the bread announcing it was very fresh whilst I dug into the olives that, even though on the small side, had a lovely flavour with a kick of garlic.
Up next were the chipolata sausages served with HP sauce. The sausages were a little on the dry side and I’m not a fan of anything being served with bottled sauce to be honest but they were ok and a nice idea as a small dish to share.
I was so glad the ‘Spanglish’ potatoes weren’t marketed as being patatas bravas… when they arrived at the table and I checked the menu I was a little worried! As with the chipolatas they were slightly dry but the flavour of the chorizo and black pudding helped the potatoes become a bit more exciting.
The corned beef pasties were so cute but slightly overdone making them, too, a little dry. The flavour was great though and there was a healthy amount of corned beef filling so slightly less time in the oven and these would have been perfect. A favourite dish of mine was the spicy meatballs which were soft and moist with a lovely punch of chilli and a little grater to top them with parmesan. Perfect for those who like more cheese then others! I smothered mine, naturally being a cheese lover, but it was nice to try them without first.
The brie fritters were absolutely huge and I have to say I felt slightly overfaced by them at first knowing that Rachel doesn’t like them. I needn’t have been because wow, they were really tasty. A crispy yet fine crumb coated the huge chunks of molten brie whilst the red onion marmalade provided a lovely sweetness to balance the dish out well. I also enjoyed the garlic king prawns with Thai green curry. This is always a dish that can go so wrong but the sauce was just right, a gentle kick at the back of the throat yet still with aromatic flavour. The prawns were soft and juicy with the veggies just cooked so they still had bite. Just lovely.
Two dishes that arrived that weren’t on the menu was a chicken leg and mini cheese pastries served on ratatouille. I passed the chicken leg over to Rachel who’s verdict was ‘okay but a little dry’. A sauce or glaze would have been a good addition. At first glance I couldn’t work the pastry swirls with ratatouille out at all but it tasted quite good together. The ratatouille tasted fresh whilst the courgette still had bite. The pastries would have been very dry without the sauce but they worked well and I quite liked the dish as a whole.
Our final dishes of the evening were the calamari served with chilli dipping sauce and the mini fish and chips. Had I not been quick I wouldn’t have got a look in with either of these dishes as Rachel dove in, and she hadn’t tried calamari before! The calamari was beautifully fresh, no rubberiness or chewy texture here. The batter crisp and light, I wanted more but she had the pot and wasn’t giving it up easily. The mini fish and chips was a similar story with soft fish in the centre and a light batter on the outside. The chips were chunky and fluffy on the inside, just the way a good chip should be. A delight and two dishes we will certainly be returning for.
The Horse and Jockey hasn’t been open in this capacity for long but they have big plans and are reaching out to the locals for inspiration. A group of local tradesmen were at the bar when we arrived although they now pop home to change from their work gear before grabbing their pint. I’m told they have been told this isn’t needed but that they felt more comfortable this way! There’s a Sunday roast for weekends, a light bites menu for those who want a chat over lunch as well as a Mad Hatter’s tea party at just £8.95 per person; much cheaper than the same type of affair in the City Centre.
As for the Wilmslow Tapas you can order the dishes for £4.50 each or share 4 for £16 or 8 for £32. There’s also a Thursday steak night! The Horse and Jockey certainly made me miss living in a village and I’ll be back for that steak night, I’m guessing Rachel will be sticking to the fish tapas though.
I was invited to the Horse and Jockey as a guest and wasn’t asked to pay for my food or drinks. This is an honest and unbiased review, as always.