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Published June 3rd 2016
Whatever The Weather There's A Great Welcome At Village Pub
The Middle Bell is one of the larger traditional country village pubs you are likely to find. But visitors to this delightful drinking hole in the Staffordshire village of Barton under Needwood will be spoilt for choice as to where they want to sit to enjoy the delightful freshly cooked food on offer, as well as the range of equally enticing cask ales.
The pub, which is conveniently situated on Main Street in Barton under Needwood, is thought to date back to the 18th century but, unfortunately, I could find no explanation as to the origin of its name. Presumably, there must have been two other bells at opposite ends of the village.
The Middle Bell has apparently been substantially altered over the years, with the most recent changes said to have occurred five years ago in 2011. Nowadays, customers will discover on arrival that the main public bar and lounge are linked together around a central bar area. But such is the size of this particular pub that there are plenty of other areas for people to sit and have a drink or a meal.
For a start, visitors arriving by car and parking in the rear car park will first come across a conservatory area at the back of the pub which is decked out in tables and chairs for those wanting a meal. But just off the main lounge is a separate, large area for people to enjoy a meal or just enjoy a quiet drink away from the bar. In fact, there are also a couple of intimate 'bolt holes' for couples to gaze into each other's eyes if they so wish.
On warm, sunny days, such as when I visited at the end of May, there are also additional seating areas both to the front and rear of the premises. Although the front area is facing onto Main Street and the rear looks out onto the car park, these are both very pleasant ways to enjoy a hearty meal and drink.
The rear outdoor seating area is the place to be on sunny days
On our visit to The Middle Bell, my wife chose to have a traditional Ploughman's lunch while I opted for the chicken and chorizo dough sandwich (pitta bread) with home-cooked chips and a small side salad. The Ploughman's had to be the biggest either of us had ever seen, consisting as it did of several thick slices of gammon, two separate chunks of cheese, a pork pie, scotch egg, and a number of slices of crusty bread with pickle on the side; all this for just £10.50. My sandwich, described on the menu as a Puck, cost only £6.50 despite being well filled and with the tasty home-made chips, with their skins happily left on.
The pub enjoys a prominent location in the heart of the village
The food was washed down by a couple of pints of Marston Pedigree, one of several regular and guest ales the pub serves, as well as lagers, wines, spirits and soft drinks. The Middle Bell has live music most weekends, although that will have to be for another time. It will certainly merit another visit in the not too distant future.