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Published June 25th 2017
Historic Former Coaching Inn Remains A Delight To Visit
This historic pub in the delightful village of Barton-under-Needwood in Staffordshire has been a prime watering hole for locals and passing visitors alike for centuries. And I am happy to say that it remains as welcoming a hostelry as it must surely have been throughout the passing years. The Shoulder of Mutton, which has an imposing location in Main Street, Barton-under-Needwood, directly opposite the village church, began life as a 17th-century former coaching inn.
Although it has had a number of more recent additions, it retains much of its olde worlde charm while clearly benefiting from a more recent makeover in the form of a refurbishment about three or four years ago. The Shoulder of Mutton sits on the corner of a busy junction in the centre of the village. A small car park at the rear of the pub can be a little tricky to spot for first time visitors such as ourselves, particularly as the side entrance is right on the junction itself.
There is a rear entrance from the car park side, which is accessed through a compact but attractive looking patio beer garden area. This brings you into a lounge area decked out with comfyt looking leather sofas and chairs. At the front, directly onto Main Street, are two further entrances which take you directly into either a simple public bar complete with pool table and dart board, or a spacious, inviting lounge and dining room area. The dining room actually consists of several linked seating areas and fairly secluded corners, all of which more or less face the bar. These areas have happily retained what may well be the original features of the pub, including low-beamed ceilings, wood panelling and an inglenook.
We were intent on enjoying lunch and, happily, there is a pretty good menu from which to choose. In fact, the regularly changing menu was being updated on the blackboard at the side of the bar while we were finishing our meals. Home-cooked food would appear to be the speciality of the house, with main dishes ranging from 8oz sirloin or gammon steaks to roasted chicken beast or whole tail scampi. If that sounds too much, then the Shoulder of Mutton also has a range of sandwiches to offer costing from £3.60 (egg and mayonnaise) to £4.50 for prawns in a Marie Rose sauce.
But we were tempted by the selection of home made pies of the day. These normally cost £9.25 each but a special offer of £15 for two proved too much to turn down. My wife and I were both persuaded to choose the Steak and Ale pie, although I went with chips and salad while my wife opted for potatoes and vegetables. Needless to say both pies were piping hot and deliciously cooked with ample chunks of meat inside. And, speaking for myself, the chips were the perfect size and texture and extremely tasty, while the salad dish was far bigger than you would normally expect in similar circumstances.
The Shoulder of Mutton, which is apparently owned by Enterprise Inns, serves regular beers in the form of Draught Bass, Marston's Pedigree and Sharp's Doom Bar. But I was tempted by the previously untried Timothy Taylor's Landlord at £3.60 a pint. This is a blonde beer which perfectly complemented my meal. All in all a very enjoyable experience which can only improve with the current landlord only in place less than a year.
The comfortable seating area inside the rear entrance