[Congleton, Cheshire] Brownlow Inn

Living near Stockport, in the ordinary course of events, I’d probably have never heard of the Brownlow Inn. However, a casual mention on a Tripadvisor forum got me to have a look at its website. On first glance at their menu, it looked like bog standard pub food – not the sort of thing that would be worth a 45 minute schlep down the A34. But on a closer look, I clocked a couple of items which prompted a trip for lunch.

The owner is South African and influences from that country appear on the food and drinks menus. Bobotie spring rolls, for example. Now, I’ve eaten bobotie at a Cape Malay restaurant in South Africa and was wondering how they were going to do it as a spring roll. The traditional version has lightly curried mince set, quite solidly, with a savoury egg custard. Well, of course, you couldn’t easily do that, but what they do is, forget the egg and just put the spiced mince into the roll and deep fry it. It works and it’s tasty. It comes with a little salad. And a dish of chutney for dunking – they use a South African product, “Mrs Ball’s”, which has a nice contrasting sweetness.

Now, the other thing that brought us here was their commitment to a “proper” pie. That is, a pie with pastry top, bottom and sides. As they say “No more bowl with a puff pastry lid”. There’s always a “pie of the day”, in this case, chicken and leek. And there’s always the Tipsy Cow – a beef and local beer pie – which is what we ordered. And it’s fab. A generously sized pie, with lovely crisp pastry, filled with chunks of long cooked beef. None of this gravy with a few shreds of meat in it that you so often find in pub pies. Comes with your choice of spuds – well, that’ll be chips of course. I’m male and northern so pie and chips is a cultural necessity. And, it’s buttered greens or mushy peas – a more difficult call than the spuds, but the greens worked well. Oh, and a little pan of gravy should you need more (I did – see reference to me being male and northern)

Only one of us wanted dessert. That’d be me. And there was a lot of choice. It took me a while but I ended up ordering their homemade cheesecake of the day – toffee and apple. To be honest, as often the case, it wasn’t up to the savoury courses. Good textures and nicely rich but it needed more of a flavour contribution from both the toffee and the apple.

All in all, a very decent lunch that came with cheery serving staff who were very much on the ball.