Forest at Feckenham

With the current never-ending heatwave – long may it last – comes the need for more al fresco opportunities. In the city there aren’t that many beer gardens we’d like to while away a few hours in, but a stone’s throw from Brum we found a hidden sun trap at the rear of this pretty village gastro pub. With a fireplace throwing out heat on cool evenings and chilly days, the garden works all year round. Result.

There’s a succinct lunch menu encompassing light bites which looked appealing, however, living by the mantra breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper we pushed it to one side in favour of the main card. A dedicated steak menu with produce from top local butcher Aubrey Allen features, as well as a thoughtful selection of dishes.

A black pudding scotch egg with piccalilli had our companion’s name all over it. It was no ordinary scotch egg. This had a perfectly oozing yolk encased in flavour-packed Clonakilty black pudding atop of a punchy, zingy piccalilli with a background cumin flavour that knocked our socks off. By contrast an accomplished twice baked souffle with pea veloute and watercress was subtle and delicate, but equally enjoyable.

Chicken pie with a proper old school crisp pastry case seriously hit the spot. Teamed with creamy mash made in a way that only a chef knows how and a rich sweet jus with wholegrain mustard and honey, we loved it. Sea bass cooked to perfection with a pleasing crisp skin was served with moreish crab gnocchi and sweet mussels in a delicate creamy cider sauce.

Going all in on the ‘lunching like a prince’ vibe, we made room for an apricot tarte tatin with stem ginger ice cream which was well worth moving the belt down a notch for. Super sweet and sticky with the spice from the ginger cutting through, it was perfect.

Clearly, we were impressed with the food and the situation and the staff seemed to genuinely enjoy being there too. The place has got everything you could possibly want from a gastro pub with the sun trap out back to boot.

FOREST AT FECKENHAM, 1 Droitwich Road, Feckenham, Redditch, B96 6JE. Tel: 01527 894422 www.theforestatfeckenham.com