Over thirty pubs a week are calling time on last orders with the closures worst in the rural areas of Britain. There are many reasons why so many of our village pubs are continuing to close. Competition from supermarkets offering cheap deals on alcohol, fewer people visiting our pubs, the increasing costs of energy & finding suitably qualified staff, so it is very encouraging to come across a pub which is thriving within its local community during these very difficult times for the pub & hospitality sector.
I visited the village of Barford, Warwickshire, which is just three miles south of the county town of Warwick. The M40 is just 1.5 miles from the village, with two railway stations, Warwick and Warwick Parkway just over 4 miles away. The beautiful River Avon flows along the western boundary of the village. In March 2014 “The Sunday Times” listed the village as one of the Top 10 places to live in The Midlands! Praise indeed!
There are two pubs in the village & I am told a convenience store owned and run by the local community! A famous resident of Barford was Joseph Arch, trade unionist and the founder of the Agricultural Workers Trade Union & later a Liberal Member of Parliament. The Joseph Arch pub, originally called the Red Lion is named after him! His gravestone can also be found in the churchyard if you want to seek it out!
I was invited to the other of the villages two pubs, The Granville Arms, by managers Tim Sidwell and Mark Williams. Long-time friends Tim and Mark took over the pub in January 2022. Mark and Tim first worked together at the historic Cotswold pub, The Howard Arms in Ilmington and managed The Cottage Tavern in the nearby village of Ashorne.
As my wife & I entered The Granville Arms we were warmly welcomed by manager Tim. He is an efficient, sociable and seasoned professional, nothing was too much trouble for him, which was really appreciated. All of the staff in the pub delivered a very high quality service throughout our visit. Tim also took the time to learn & remember our names and engaged with my wife and I in bouts of genuine conversation.
The Granville Arms is a very popular pub & restaurant with both locals & visitors from outside the village. Whilst enjoying our meal I noticed several people coming in off the street, not only to eat in the restaurant but to sit and enjoy a drink with friends. It is obviously still very much a local for the village community as well as a fine pub restaurant. There is plenty of car parking at the front & side of the pub. It is also a very popular pub for visitors with their canine friends! I saw several dogs leading their owners from in off the street! There were doggie biscuits on the bar appropriately and a water station, from which you could help yourself.
The Barford Barn, previously known as The Back Room, at the rear of the pub is big enough to host all sorts of parties, wakes & other celebrations in comfortable Barn style surroundings. There is a large tv screen at one end of the room which could be used for showing photographs, video and other visual material. There are many very popular Live Music, Karaoke, Quiz & Comedy evenings in the Barford Barn which are all advertised on one of the prominent chalkboards. There is also a clairvoyants evening! Why not pop along & connect with past loved ones! Local vocalists & musicians Hannah M Woof, Preston D Barnes, Kitty Tray & Mikey Rainsford were already chalked up to appear over the next couple of months. There is a newly erected Pergola in the large garden with plenty of outside chairs & tables & a Bar B Q Buffet station, home to the Granville Tavern, a small outside bar!
Tim took the time to explain the menu to my wife & I, pointing out further options available on the chalkboards! He made some excellent recommendations from the wine list. He also laughed at my attempts at comedy, which was admirable! Tim made us feel very special. A touch of sincere pub hospitality, which was very welcoming.
The Granville Arms is a fine example of a old English village pub with loads of character, where the community comes together, and visitors are are made to feel very welcome. You can grab a simple snack or stay and linger over a sumptuous meal. The pub offers a Daytime Menu, Pub Classics, House Salads, Burgers, Baguettes & Wraps, Basket Meals, Evening Menu & Desserts. Food at The Granville Arms is traditional but with many international influences. Director of Food Carl Aspinwall or Chef to his friends, came out from his busy kitchen and took the time to speak with my wife & I for a brief time.
Carl told me that he had lived in the village for several years and knew of the Granville`s long established reputation for providing fine food & drink. He had recently decided to join the kitchen at The Granville Arms and put on hold his very successful pie making business! It is now his aim with the help of Sous Chef Jan Kumr & the rest of his kitchen staff to help the Granville rebuild its status as the place to visit when looking to dine well in the local area. He told me that he tries to source as much of the fresh produce he uses from local Midland producers whenever possible, thus reducing its carbon footprint. On the evidence of my visit Carl & his team are doing an excellent job. The food was excellent, beautifully cooked, and professionally presented to table.
Sharp`s Doom Bar – A perfectly balanced beer combining subtle yet complex flavours. This creates an amber ale which is both satisfying and deliciously moreish. AROMA: Spicy resinous hop, sweet roasted malts. TASTE: Balanced, succulent dried fruit, lightly roasted malt.
St Austell Brewery Tribute – A Zesty and fresh pale ale brewed with specially sourced ingredients, including Cornish Gold malt and hops from the UK and the USA. The malty base brings character and flavour and balances the beer’s fresh orange and grapefruit notes.
Wye Valley HPA – HPA is an easy-going real ale. Target and Celeia hops hang out with Maris Otter pale malt to give this understated brew its pale straw colour, citrus hop aroma and a balanced bitter finish. My choice of drink for the evening. A wonderful ale! It could not be faulted!
Draught Guinness: A smooth, velvety feel in the mouth. This very dark beer has a dense & creamy head as we all know.
The Granville Arms also has a very comprehensive wine list from which my wife was recommended a glass of Argentinian Equino Malbec which was a mix of plum, raspberry and blackberry, medium-bodied, yet soft and silky to drink. My wife said it was the perfect accompaniment to her Haddock En Pappiotte. There were eight wines, seven red & two Rose wines to choose from which I thought was quite an extensive wine list for a small village pub.
- Roasted Goats Cheese, Beetroot, Sweet Peppers, Red Onion& Balsamic
- Chicken Liver & Whisky Parfait, Toasts, Sea Salt Butter, Caramelised Red Onion & Chutney
- Fish of the Day en Pappiotte, Crushed New Potatoes, Mediterranean Vegetables & White Wine Veloute
- Aubergine Melt, Courgette, Tomato, Herbs, Mozzarella, Cous Cous & Salad
- Warm Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream. Simply delicious! Whats not to like?
- Cheesecake – The cheesecake was impressive! A delicious biscuit base. Loved it so much.
I must admit to trying some of my wife’s meal and can vouch that both dishes were beautifully cooked and presented to table.
Have you thought about visiting a new pub restaurant, for that special dining experience?
Why not drop in for breakfast which is also served between 10am & 12pm on Friday & Saturday!
Why not treat a loved one to a Christmas meal at The Granville Arms? Two & Three course Christmas meals will be available during the whole of December!
Why not visit The Granville Arms for that special occasion. You won’t regret it. I had a great time and I shall be going back very soon!
The Granville Arms biggest asset are the staff themselves, Mark, Tim, Carl & his creative team in the kitchen. The bar & serving staff all contribute to an excellent professional service.
For tasty food, quality ales & fine wines in a local friendly pub atmosphere, The Granville Arms is a smart choice. A great local village pub & restaurant! By providing such excellent quality food and drink combined with the warm, friendly hospitality, this classic village pub is sure to win many awards for its food and hospitality over the next couple of years.
It certainly comes highly recommended from me!
For more information, please visit The Granville Arms, 52 Wellesbourne Rd, Barford, Warwick CV35 8DS
The views and comments expressed are as usual my own.