Traditional pub fare done well

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THE One Elm in Guild Street, Stratford has reopened its doors after a top-to-toe refurbishment which has brought out all its best features.

Along with a new-look pub, the new all-day menu has also had a makeover and it’s this fresh and satisfying combination I was recently invited to experience.

There is certainly no shortage of choice when it comes to good eateries in central Stratford ­– more and more continue to fling open their doors to compete for their slice of the market. But, when it comes to traditional pub dishes done well, The One Elm menu, complete with its tempting new offers, is a worthy contender indeed.

Burgers are better than ever, with a choice of One Elm coarse-ground steak burger, Cheddar cheese and burger sauce; breaded chicken burger with baby gem lettuce and garlic mayo and the new Two Elm – a double burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and burger sauce.  All come with a range of extras from bacon, fried egg, gherkins and jalapeños, and with chips ­- thick or thin!

Mains include classics like fish and chips and mac and cheese alongside proper ham, egg and chips.  A new grill and sizzler menu features seriously good chicken, King prawn and marinated halloumi sizzlers and great steaks from Aubrey Allen.

And there are nightly offers to tempt you out into the cold on a ‘school night’, including 2-4-1 on mains on Mondays and  On Thursday between 7pm and 9pm, it’s 2-4-1 on cocktails between 7-9pm on Thursdays.

Painted in soft sage green with comfy leather armchairs and booth seats as well as plenty of tables and chairs, the One Elm bar is the ideal spot to hole up on chillier evenings, especially when the fire is lit. Upstairs the loft has been transformed with cosy booths upholstered in rich kilim fabrics, country style dressers, vintage tables and a new log fire.

The new bar glows with warm copper and is the perfect backdrop for propping up over a pint of local ale from Stratford’s Purity Brewing Company or Church Farm Brewery in Warwick.

Both go down particularly well with one of the new bar snacks – free-range Scotch eggs and brown sauce; Westcombe Cheddar and ham hock croquettes or honey and mustard mini sausages.  Or with a classic fish finger sarnie or a satisfying Aubrey Allen’s Steak bloomer filled with a dry-aged flat iron steak, red onion jam, watercress and horseradish.

Even the spacious courtyard has been given a make-over and the upstairs area of the restaurant offers a more private haven away from the bustle of the bar. Also perfect for private function hire, so one worth bearing in mind for those celebrations.

Landlord Mat Faulkner told me his mission had been to give the One Elm universal appeal – to both drinkers and diners. And it’s clear, by how busy it was, that he’s succeeded in that.

This lovely pub, the second opened by Peach pubs in Warwickshire, has been a mainstay among Stratfordians  for almost 15 years.

Mat said: “All of them love what we do best – honest food and drink in a proper, neighbourhood pub – so we’ve decided to do more of it.

“In the two years I’ve been landlord, we’ve made a great many new friends, welcomed old faces and new and won plenty of awards for looking after our guests.

“We’ve given the pub a new look inside and outside to make it even more friendly and welcoming, and created a new menu of good pub food, with tasty pub lunches and bar snacks through the day, filling suppers in the evening and cracking roasts on a Sunday.  We are also open for breakfast every weekend from 9am.  Just what people want when they pop into their local,” he says.

From what I witnessed, it’s clear Mat’s theory is spot on. When the plethora of fine dining establishments have finally left their mark on your waistline and your wallet, pubs such as The One Elm are a delicious alternative, whether with friends, family or colleagues.

We were very taken with The One Elm’s new menu and new look ­– and would not hesitate recommending it.