The Wheelwrights Arms
Pubs and Bars with Restaurants
The Wheelwrights Arms in Matfield is a cosy little country pub, resplendent with olde-worlde charm and run by husband and wife team, Rob and Gem Marshall.
While Gem adeptly looks after all things front of house, Rob leads the small but evidently capable kitchen team. Rob grew up in Zimbabwe, but you wouldn’t know it from the decidedly British dishes on his menu. Rob has a passion for supporting local, independent businesses, which is evident in his offering. The à la carte menu is rather concise, comprising only four main course options – though when the food arrives, it’s so good that there really is no need to think of what else one might have chosen. However, fans of traditional pub fare will be more than satisfied with the selection of age-old classics listed at the top of the menu.
On our visit I tried the roast saddle of venison. It was a great country pub meal, comprising succulent venison encased in pastry, and accompanied by creamy mash and buttery greens. What really stood out were the extra little details. The pie was topped with earthy hogweed seeds, which Rob later told me he picked from the fields just over the road, and the sweet yet sharp blackberry compote was made from blackberries picked around the green. The theme of reducing food miles and supporting local suppliers continues on to the drinks menu, with numerous local beers served on tap.
Fairly full, we decided to share a pudding. We chose the almond milk panna cotta, accompanied by a Bakewell slice, a macaron filled with greengage curd and a scoop of greengage ice cream. It was delicious, and all of the components worked together well.
Looking around the pub, on a midweek evening in November, there were several tables occupied by relaxed diners, as well as plenty of locals simply enjoying a tipple. The atmosphere was casual and convivial, with the roaring real fire casting long flickering light down the length of the pub. We would have loved to stay awhile longer after our meal but being a school night we had to retire home, with the promise of a return visit soon.