The older you get, the more you realise what your true pleasures in life are. For me, it’s discovering the splendour of the countryside; driving along winding country roads journeying to pretty rural pubs and beautiful spas seemingly in the middle of nowhere and escaping the city for an hour or so.
As you know, it barely took five seconds for me to fall in love with The Northumberland Arms in Felton after my visit last year, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve recommended their sister venue The Running Fox. Sharing the same signature sense of style (a perfect blend of refined rusticity and shabby chic) and serving some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, spending my time here is always time well spent.
So when I was invited to visit the family’s latest acquisition – The Percy Arms, a beautiful country pub nestled beneath the Cheviot Hills in Chatton – I knew I was in for another extra-special treat.
Prosecco and Pie visits The Percy Arms, Chatton:
Bright winter sun shone across the village of Chatton before us and we stood for a minute, surveying our surroundings. The gentle twitter of birds in the trees and faint sound of sheep grazing on the hills beyond could be heard as we admired quaint cottages and pretty gardens enclosed by old stone walls.
Looking at each other with a grin that said ‘we’ve arrived’, Amy and I knew we had found the kind of peace and tranquility us city-dwellers long for after a busy week in the city.
Stepping into The Percy Arms, it wasn’t hard to see the team behind The Northumberland Arms and The Running Fox had been here before us. The functional flagstone floor and roaring fire completed the country look, but it was the array of hunting prints in ornate frames, plump checked sofas and antler chandeliers that lent themselves to the same signature style I know and love from The Northumberland Arms.
Amy and I kept spotting little touches that make these venues so unique – like the charming wellington-boot print curtains and matching cushions, right down to the old saddle straps along the bar and beautiful cutlery you’d expect to find in a five star restaurant.
The surprises kept on coming as we browsed the extensive menu. Struggling to whittle it down our top five choices, I finally opted for the creamy haddock chowder served with homemade cornbread, while Amy chose game terrine and toast. Both dishes were beautifully presented and the fish fell to pieces in my mouth. The creamy sauce and sweet cornbread made everything all the more-ish too. Sneaking a bite of Amy’s rich terrine we concluded that both dishes were the perfect antidote to the bitterly cold January day outside.
Again, we were spoilt for choice for our mains – a pleasure you’ll also find at The Northumberland Arm and The Running Fox. Ordering a glass of pinot grigio for myself and a sauvignon blanc for Amy, we were delighted to see The Percy Arms also has the beautiful fish-bowl wine glasses we admired at The Northumberland Arms. Once we managed to make our choices for our main course, we sat back, sipped our wine and caught up with each other’s Christmas gossip.
Could this day get any more perfect?
Apparently it could. Spotting the ‘Percy pie’ option on the menu, my chicken and thyme ‘open lid’ pie, seasoned with sage and onion stuffing was fantastic. It was a close tie between that and the pork and rosemary pie with homemade apple sauce and crackling or the Northumberland steak and Alnwick ale version, (okay, I’m lying. I really would have quite liked the ‘veggie pie’ served with mash topped with cheese and roasted onions too). The pies come open-topped to which you can add mountains of fresh seasonal vegetables and top with an enormous home-cooked Yorkshire pudding and gravy. The food was absolutely delicious – well-cooked, beautifully seasoned and certainly generous in portion size. In between mouthfuls of pie and sips of wine (oh, what a life!) I managed to ask Amy how her creamy vegetable gnocchi was (delicious I’m told).
Feeling exceptionally full by now, we were invited on a tour of the rest of the pub to help us digest before tackling dessert. The pictures clearly speak louder than words, so I’ll leave you to enjoy the view….
(click the images to enlarge)
The Percy Arms has been transformed into a state-of-the-art, luxuriously furnished pub with five en-suite rooms – each one somehow more picturesque than the last. It seems the partnership between local interior design company Tallantyre Interiors and Kris Blackburn (owner) has something of a Midas touch, because every venue they’ve transformed manages to exceed your expectations.
From exposed brick walls that contrast beautifully with five-star fittings and fixtures, to handpicked fabrics and country-motifs on the soft furnishings, The Percy Arms is a country retreat you won’t ever want to leave. I desperately wanted to shut the door, fill the roll-top bath to the brim with bubbles and lie there with a glass of wine (or Prosecco!). The Percy Arms have thought of everything – even adding racks to the bath that hold your ipad/magazine and a slot for your wine!
Heading back downstairs we were greeted by a decadent treat of homemade treacle tart and an ice cream sundae of Doddington’s Alnwick rum truffle, raspberry ripple and creamy vanilla ice cream. As you can see everything is beautifully presented, elevating the venue from ‘just another’ country pub to somewhere extra special.
Reluctantly tearing ourselves away from the pop and crackle of the fire and heading back out into the cold, we couldn’t resist stopping the car for a moment and taking a photo of the breathtaking view of the frosty fields and Cheviot Hills beyond (yes, that was us with our hazards on in the middle of the road!)
Though further afield than its sister venues, The Percy Arms is made for midweek adventures should you findyourself with a day off and definitely the perfect end to weekend adventures up North.
Book yourself your own country retreat for £85 a night throughout January!