I’ve been to The Cholmondeley Arms several times since I first discovered it in 2012 on a trip to Chester. It’s located in the village of Cholmondeley, near Malpas in Cheshire. I always make a point to visit this picturesque pub for lunch when I am in Chester or Liverpool as it is on the way back to Cambridge. Paulo and I recently returned to the ‘Chum’ for a much anticipated lunch.
It’s one of my favourite pubs as the food, drink and ambience are quite special. The pub is a former Victorian schoolhouse built in 1862 and was first converted in 1988. It was refurbished a few years ago by the new owners who celebrated its past as a schoolhouse. The result is a beautifully decorated and charming place to spend a few hours over great food and drink. They have a dizzying selection of gins and some excellent local beers. The menu consists of freshly made classics that are expertly prepared and presented.
There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn. – Samuel Johnson
These words written on the blackboard at the entrance could not ring more true. Every time we enter through the glass doors, we are simply in awe of the building and can appreciate all the work that went into the smallest details.
Our favourite spot is either in the comfy leather chairs right by the fireplace or at a table nearby. We can take our time to peruse the impressive menu and specials board, then place our order at the bar. Service has always been helpful and friendly.
The ales offered through their “famous five pumps” are all from local micro-breweries in Cheshire and Shropshire. My favourite is the Cholmondeley Best Bitter, a golden beer with a mellow hop taste.
We started off with the Trawlers Seafood Board to share, which consisted of the perfect combination of fresh nibbles from the sea served on a round cutting board. We enjoyed everything: prawns topped with a spicy cocktail sauce, white crab with lemon mayo, cured salmon and seared tuna. Their freshly baked granary bread was heavenly and it went particularly well with the potted shrimp.
As much as we enjoyed the seafood board, we were a little disappointed that they took one of our very favourite nibbles off the menu. They used to offer large juicy prawns, charmingly served in a pint glass. The photo below is from 2012… just look at those beauties! I hope they bring this back to the menu, if it is feasible for them to do so (perhaps this is due to the global shortage of king and tiger prawns).
The menu of “old school favourites” is impressive and it’s always hard to make a choice. I’ve ordered the sausage and mash in the past but couldn’t resist their fish and chips, particularly as I love their minted ‘not so mushy’ peas.
Their famous local ale battered haddock was absolutely massive and it was served with a generous amount of chips. The haddock was so fresh it melted in my mouth. The batter was light and crispy and the touch of mint in the ‘not so mushy’ peas gave them a nice fresh flavour. The tartare sauce definitely tasted homemade.
Paulo tried a new dish this time: slow cooked shin of beef, stout and honey stew with roasted celeriac and English mustard dumplings. This is not a cut of meat he usually eats and it was perfect for this stew. He enjoyed it tremendously and thought everything was really tasty. I tried the dumplings and they had a nice flavour and texture.
The menu features some appetising homemade puddings, such as the Cholmondeley Mess, sticky toffee pudding and milk chocolate brownie, but we were too full from our meal. They also offer a selection of ‘liquid puddings’ so Paulo had the Classic Irish Coffee. It was expertly prepared and came with a tiny cube of cake. My Yorkshire tea, served in a ‘Brown Betty’ teapot wearing a knitted hat cosy, also came with the little cake. Nice touch for satisfying the sweet tooth!
The Cholmondeley Arms also offer accommodations in the Old Headmaster’s House with six en-suite guest bedrooms named after famous teachers and headmasters, such as Mr Chips, Miss Eyre and Mr Dumbledore. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been tempted to check in and unwind after a wonderful meal, rather than face the drive back to Cambridge. That way, we could settle in for the evening and try out their tempting array of gins!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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Always nice to see a schoolhouse. If my house wasn’t a house it would be a pub!
Hi Ariel, thanks for your comment. I had a look at your blog. Your schoolhouse is quite unique; you’re lucky to still have this in the family. I didn’t see very many converted schoolhouses when I was living in Montreal and Toronto. Now that I’ve moved to the UK, schoolhouses, barns, churches, pubs, etc. are commonly renovated into beautiful homes, pubs, restaurants, shops and more. The Cholmondeley Arms in Cheshire is a wonderful example of a renovation that embraces the past but is relevant in the present.