Just north of Telford, in Shropshire, can be found the high end Gastro pub ‘The Ugly Duckling’. It’s unusual to find such a high end pub, selling modern British food, at such reasonable prices.
Opened in August 2016 The Ugly Duckling has quickly grown in popularity, due to the superb food, inviting and relaxing décor. It is recommended to book, especially on weekends.
I booked a table on Saturday night as a treat to us both before Marianne goes into hospital. She is very generously donating a kidney to her best friend Kate. We’ll save the details of that for another blog post!
Looking at the menu it is obvious that The Ugly Duckling offers so much more than the stereotypical gastro pub.
We arrived about half an hour before our reservation at 7 pm and enjoyed a pre-dinner drink (Marianne was behaving and had lime cordial), whilst taking in the relaxing décor and all the ‘duck’ art work. It is obvious that the owners saved no expense when they carried out the refurbishment and they have really done a fantastic job. It is said you can judge an eatery by the care they take on back of house – and even the toilets are nicely decorated!
We were sat down by our waitress and offered drinks and water to have with our meal and efficiently presented with our menu. The menu offered about 8 different starters with the average price £6 – £7 with both meat and vegetarian options, the specials board was read out and explained including all the trimmings (of which there were many !!)
Marianne chose the Lamb & Spring Onion Cigars at £7.95 and I ordered Scallops & King Prawns served with a Lobster Bisque at £10.50.
What can I say – they were really delicious, you could taste the freshness with a real depth of flavour in my dish, and the balance of the Lamb, spring onion and mint sauce with the broad bean humus made Marianne speechless (doesn’t happen often !!) – both dishes, we would recommend and would definitely have again.
We couldn’t resist the Gin & Tonic Granita when offered. We expected a frozen gin and tonic sorbet – I not a big fan of gin and tonic but loved this – it was beautifully presented in a small flute glass with lime shavings and went down a treat.
For the main course – The menu offered a choice of about 15 main courses, plus daily specials with prices starting from £10.95. With Chateaubriand on the special board how could we resist. Chateaubriand is from the tenderloin fillet and is considered one of the best cuts of beef you can get. Due to the size of this dish with all the trimmings it is for 2 people, so Marianne and I decided to go for it. Priced at £54 so £27 each – it was the most expensive main course but, due to the occasion we decided to splash out.
Well – seriously – to say a main course at £27 each was worth every penny means it must have been good right. It was – it really was. We asked for it to be cooked medium and it was cooked exactly as we wanted it. Accompanied by Heritage tomatoes, asparagus wrapped in Parma ham, homemade chips, baby carrots and watercress and Parmesan salad. The peppercorn sauce that it was served with, was really really good! I don’t like tomatoes but I ate these, they were like confit tomatoes and tasted so different to your normal tomato – thanks chef I ate a tomato!!
Both of us really didn’t have much room for pudding, but bumped into friends and after catching up and sharing stories we decided that enough time had passed to be able to manage a pudding !!! so we decided to give up the fight and went for it!! – Rhubarb & White Chocolate semi-fredo served with Limoncello Ice Cream. It was a wonderful way to finish off a superb meal.
The service throughout the meal was very efficient, friendly and relaxed which together with the superb food made the meal thoroughly enjoyable. We wouldn’t hesitate in coming back and highly recommending The Ugly Duckling to those in Shropshire, looking for beautifully and thoughtfully prepared, fantastic food, sustainably produced and sourced locally (They aim to purchase local food and to source most food from within a 20 mile radius. Obviously being in the Midlands fish, has to come from slightly further afield, however their ‘catch of the day, is delivered fresh on a daily basis), sold at a great price, in a thoroughly desirable venue with service that welcomes and includes guests.
We had the pleasure of meeting the Head Chef Will Mason, after the meal, to find out where he learnt to cook such delicious food.
Chef Will, originally from Telford, started cooking from an early age, and at the age of just 11 followed his mum to work, who managed the Hundred House in Norton, just outside of Telford. This obviously sparked a passion for food and he went on to work, until the age of 19, at the Raven Hotel, under Chef Steve Biggs. Will wanted to learn the classics and ventured over to the resort, Courchevel 1850, where he stayed for 9 months. Will has also worked at the Courmayeur in Italy and Austria before returning to work under Chef Nigel Huxley at The Drapers Restaurant in Shrewsbury.
Will has been Head Chef at The Ugly Duckling since it has opened and his passion to produce great honest food was obvious. Talking of fresh, it was so nice to discover that the only frozen food is their ice cream and everything served is made on site, including the ice cream. This was obvious from the wonderful flavour of the food we had.
A few more Pictures:
For more reviews and to follow our adventures why not subscribe to our blog post on our homepage. We are also on twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.