The Burlton Inn reviewed

PUBLISHED: 18:12 21 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:52 20 February 2013

Owners Paul and Lindsay Devaney and some of their team. Back row, from left, Matt Rosser, Harriet Newnes, Darren Cooper, Rebecca Eagles and Calum Eagles

Owners Paul and Lindsay Devaney and some of their team. Back row, from left, Matt Rosser, Harriet Newnes, Darren Cooper, Rebecca Eagles and Calum Eagles

The Burlton is bringing world-class dining and brilliant burgers to Shropshire. Howard Franklin tasted both

Beefed-up haute cuisine

The Burlton is bringing world-class dining and brilliant burgers to Shropshire. Howard Franklin tasted both

The Burlton Inn is fast becoming a popular eaterie again, having surfaced with new ownership from the wastelands of culinary mediocrity where it had been stuck for the past few years.

The 18th century building sits right on the edge of the rather twisty road between Shrewsbury and Ellesmere and has been a hostelry since the reign of King George lll, retaining many of its period features.

I was joined for my evenings dining by Stephen Winwood and first impressions were of a somewhat beige interior, although the beamed ceiling and eclectic mix of tables and chairs give several different, spacious and comfortable seating areas.

I did like the area set aside for pre-dinner drinks with two comfy chestnut brown leather sofas placed either side of a rustic fireplace and although I would have liked to see some jugs of fresh flowers, the table lamps added a welcome warm glow.

Certainly the welcome was very warm and friendly from charming Harriet behind the bar, who knew how to pour a decent white wine spritzer and looked after our drinks throughout the evening.

Our waiter for the evening was the very engaging James, who was extremely knowledgeable about the menu. What an asset it is to have bright young staff who are articulate and interact with the clients. James deftly produced a big basket of artisan breads and a dish of virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar, in case we were peckish.

The Burlton offers two very differing menus, either Gastro Pub Favourites at very favourable prices, or the Contemporary Fine Dining Experience which has a selection of la carte specialities prepared by chef patron Paul Devaney. Paul has an illustrious background of haute cuisine, having trained in Austria, Germany and France where he learnt classic French cooking, especially working on the Cote dAzur and time spent in New Zealand and Australia, where he accumulated many gold medal awards for his innovative dishes through the Salon Culinaire. There can be few chefs in Shropshire with the international culinary expertise of this young man. Paul believes in the classic French ideal of staying true to the ingredients, with harmonious flavours and seasonal produce.

I wanted to be totally fair in my assessment of the dishes on offer and selected from both the pub food menu and also the fine dining. I began with marinated trout with a palm-sugar and lime dressing, served in the Asian style with beignets of wasabi, aioli and a radish salad, presented as piece of contemporary art on a narrow black dish.

James the waiter told me this was one of Pauls most recent creations and it had all the sublime flavours and scents of the East and was really delicious. Stephen began with a bundle of intensely green English asparagus served with buffalo mozzarella salad, slow-cooked tomatoes, hazelnuts and a light lemony mayonnaise. He said it was fresh and summery and the combination of ingredients worked well.

For my main course I moved to the Pub Favourites menu and decided on the Burlton Burger. I can honestly say my palate has never been sullied by mass-produced branded burgers, and never will be. I was assured by James that this would be an altogether different burger, so I went for it.
Its arrival was eagerly anticipated and what a whopper: 200 grams of totally unadulterated Hereford beef, served in a traditional floured bap, with slow-cooked tomatoes and Gruyre cheese, a spicy side relish and sublime chunky chips, the only thing missing, I felt, were slices of onion.
Stephen chose the Fine Dining menus bavette of Hereford beef. Very few British diners would know this cut of beef; it is probably the least appreciated of the beef-cuts. Served with shallots it can be found in just about every Parisian bistro and it is also popular in Cantonese cooking. Bavette is the French flank and needs to be matured for about 28 days and should be cut across the grain and then seared in a very hot frying-pan. The chef served this simply with a medley of vegetables and pureed potatoes. Stephen said it was beautifully tender and most flavoursome. His empty plate rather reinforced those sentiments!

Puddings were rich and varied, and Stephen selected honey panna cotta served with raspberries, almonds and caramel sauce. Small medallions were artistically arranged with the other components into a mosaic design on the plate. My Toblerone cheesecake took on the shape of pieces of that chocolate and was served with the most eye-wateringly intense reduction of sloe gin, which was an excellent balance to the very sweet cheesecake. We then enjoyed super-strong coffee served with citrus and passion fruit marshmallows to complete our meal.

The highlight of our evening was Paul coming from the kitchen and having the confidence to meet his dining public. Paul is a very accomplished and utterly modest chef who caters for a broad range of tastes; is an inspirational chef who really understands food and its presentation and is prepared to showcase the abundance of wonderful local meats and produce we produce in the County of Shropshire. Paul told me he needs to know the provenance of the ingredients he uses and is especially pleased to have found Gloucester Old Spot Pork from Moor Farm just four miles away from Burlton. On the evening we dined at the Burlton fellow guests included a group of prominent Shropshire farmers and they confirmed that their steaks were extremely good, and that they would be returning.

I should like to see Paul Devaney do well at The Burlton Inn, he has a very good team around him. The ambience and decor still need further attention but he is aware of that. You will be made very welcome and can be assured of a delicious meal whatever you select. There are also reasonably priced en suite guest rooms if you fancy a night away from home and, the following morning, the best full English cooked breakfast to send you on your way.

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