The Pant Yr Ochain
By EssentialsMAG food critic SALLY ANGLESEA
The Pant Yr Ochain
Old Wrexham Road, Gresford, Wrexham LL12 8TY
Cost for three course meal, for two people, without drinks: £50 - £60
Juicy, plump, ruby raspberries…
are lovely. They’re even better when served in a hefty glass of gin and tonic, which is exactly how I started my evening at the Pant Yr Ochain.
Part of the Brunning and Price group, The Pant is part an extended family of restaurants that are scattered all across the country. In spite - or perhaps because - of this, there is a familiar and comforting warmth that immediately welcomes you as you walk in. It feels more like your best mate’s living room than a restaurant – but with a bar in the middle of it. And a bill at the end of it.
With a lusciously green and expansive garden, intermittently ignited with vibrant patches of wild flowers, this country pub is the perfect spot for a Summer time sip. An enchanting woodland area of towering, tangled trees at the bottom of the lawn takes the place of a more conventional pub play area, and only contributes further to the family feel of this unassuming restaurant.
The food on offer is varied without there being an overwhelming amount of choice. There is also an extensive number of Gluten Free options, as many of their main dishes are already made in line with this dietary requirement. You’re going to find your pub classics, like pate, prawn cocktail, ham and chips; but you’re also going to be faced with more modern and I would argue, exciting, offerings…
Like the Smoked Salmon with Gin Dressing: a fresh, fruity, zesty, zingy Summer starter. The flavours in this dish were beautifully conceived and deliciously delivered – the aniseed hint of fennel; the salty, seaside taste of samphire; the peppery hint of watercress; and the sharp, citric punch from the gin dressing. Each element worked as one delicious collective, resulting in a light and refreshing tastebud-tingling appetiser, which was made even more delightful by my chilled glass of Malfy Rosa Grapefruit gin that so perfectly accompanied it.
The Garlic and Chilli Prawns were a less complex creation but simplicity, in this case, was undoubtedly king (prawns). Seven plump ones sat amidst crimson flecks of fresh chilli slices, coated in a glossy sheen of garlicky olive oil. They were perfectly cooked and importantly, cleaned. Add a squeeze of lemon to those beauties and an additional side of warm focaccia and there you have it – a simple, sexy, satisfying kick-starter.
With my appetite suitably whetted, I was ready and raring for my main course: Jerk Chicken Supreme. I’ve encountered some jerks in my time but this one was by far the most memorable – for all the right reasons, unusually. Jerk seasoning is an art in itself; balancing those herbs and spices in a way that ignites your tastebuds without completely burning them off is a skill, the success of which is hugely subjective. For me though, the chefs at the Pant are jerking off pretty masterfully… delicately spiced with flavours of ginger, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, and lifted beautifully with the more aromatic edge of thyme, their jerk seasoning was pretty perfectly executed in my books.
Alongside my Jamaican gem, Russ opted for a more traditionally British choosing - Fish (or as it would perhaps be more aptly named at the Pant Yr Ochain, ‘Whale’) and Chips. If your appetite doesn’t stretch to devouring entire mammals, I’d suggest you opt for the smaller portion of this particular dish. That being said, once you’ve sunk your teeth into the soft, white flesh of haddock, beneath a beautifully crisp and delicate shell of light, bubbled batter, you may regret your own self restraint. The fish was the star of the show but importantly, the chips were chunky - I once had fries served to me with a fish and chip dish. The less said about that, the better. Safe to say, it ruined my life for a fair few weeks.
Every time I write these restaurant reviews, I vow not to go into each morsel of meticulous detail about every element of each mouthful...and every time, I fail. Here is where I should leave you guessing about the desserts - or at least give you some cryptic foundation upon which you are left to build your own assumptions - but alas, I can’t bear the thought of leaving the memory of these sweet delights teasing tastebuds on the tip of my tongue. So, creme brûlée...
The sound of a spoon cracking through crisp, caramelised sugar into the velvety depths of sweet, vanilla seed flecked custard is one I will never tire of. Roald Dahl inspired images of magical elevators smashing through glass ceilings always find me in this moment, but shards of sugar replace glass and Willy Wonka looks more like a dessert-frenzied red head, armed with a spoon. Happily, the Pant’s pot of posh custard was well worth crashing into; beautifully smooth, creamy and bursting with the comforting flavour of vanilla. The sugar on top was slightly over-scorched and as a result, a bit bitter but the butter-rich, crumbly shortbread biscuit it came with made up for that.
Chocolate factory fantasies continued with a chocolate brownie that Augustus Gloop would have undoubtedly sold his soul for. If he’d had one. Squelchy, chewy, sticky and squidgy, it stuck to my teeth like a proper filthy brownie should. I recently had a brownie that used beetroot in place of butter and sweet potato instead of sugar. That one did not stick to my teeth, although it did have my lying through them when assuring the creator: ‘no, honestly, they’re delicious! You can hardly tell the difference...’
The Pant Yr Ochain is a true Welsh wonder. It’s homely heart beats loudly and lovingly in all that they do; from the stories that are held within the many historic photos that hang throughout the restaurant to the genuine passion and consideration for comforting, high quality food, that is served with warmth and care. Whether you’re popping in for a pint or settling yourself in for a three-course extravaganza, you certainly won’t be leaving this stunning 16th Century pub feeling anything other than content, cared for and if you order the full sized fish and chips, ready to go into hibernation for the Winter.
Private Dining – For a special occasion or perhaps a business lunch, why not book The Pant Yr Ochain’s private dining area? It seats up to 16 people and is totally free of charge!
Sunday Funday – With so many beautiful walks on the doorstep of this gorgeous pub and a miniature railway in its front garden that opens every Sunday, you can easily make a memorable day of it. Their roasts are pretty spectacular…
Size Matters – If your sweet tooth is hankering for a treat but your stomach/diet isn’t on board, why not compromise and opt for a mini pud? Served with a hot drink, they are a perfect end-of-meal finale.
For more foodie fanaticism and photos, follow Sally on Instagram: @gingernutsaboutfood