The clue to The Talbot Inn’s age is right there in the name of its restaurant - 1776.
History seeps from the brick walls and wooden beams of the Barnsley-based community pub, in the heart of Mapplewell, and there’s a buzz of friendly warmth about the place as we arrive for our Friday evening reservation. We leave the bustling pub behind as we climb the stairs to the cosy restaurant, to be greeted by smiling staff. Our waitress arrives with menus, plus colouring sheets and crayons for my four-year-old. I like the place already.
The menu is impressively laced with locally sourced ingredients – meats from the local butcher, and homegrown vegetables from the restaurant’s allotment.
“We believe in supporting the community which supports us, so we source locally whenever possible, from our flowers to our steaks and our beer,” says manager Sarah Burns, who's been with the Talbot since its current owners took over in 2013, giving the place a complete refurbishment, and revealing beautiful historic features that had previously remained hidden.
“We aim to minimise food miles, ensuring absolute freshness, and just about everything – including our legendary pie pastry – is made fresh onsite.”
For starters we choose a seasonal tomato soup from the menu, and two dishes – sweet potato, carrot and feta fritters, and king prawn and honey-soaked pancetta skewers – from the specials board. The soup is homemade and well seasoned, with a delicious side of fresh hot-from-the-oven bread, and the fritters are tasty and fresh with great flavours. The skewers are perfectly well-cooked with tender prawns.
For the main course, we order two of the steak and ale pies, plus a braised red wine beef brisket, and a child’s spaghetti and meatballs. The pie crust is beautiful, and the inside is well flavoured, and stuffed with an almost overwhelming portion of meat. The brisket is tender, with great bite from the red wine sauce and receives high praise from everyone at the table. All of the meals are accompanied by delicious crunchy veg, and creamy mashed potatoes. And my daughter got almost two thirds of the way through her plate of spaghetti before she even thought to enquire about dessert – high praise indeed. All stuffed from our mains, we settle for stealing a bite of the little one’s dessert – a gooey and delicious brownie with lashings of hot custard.
“The business has grown so much in the past five years,” says Sarah.
“There’s a lovely atmosphere about the place, and a good mix of regulars – especially for Sunday lunch – and new faces, who’ve travelled to visit the restaurant.
“Our menu changes every three to four months, with the seasons, and we always have a specials board in, so there’s plenty of choice.
“I would have to say that the best-selling dish is probably the steak and ale pie, we sell at least 300 of those a week; the crust is a sacred recipe that’s been passed down,
“Personally I'm a pasta fan, so I love the gnocci.”
For three starters, four main, one dessert, and a round of drinks, the bill came to £72.50.