My last visit to this pub at the heart of a serene East Yorkshire village was for Sunday lunch about five years ago. I took away a mixture of a very full bar, crowded tables and rib-digging elbows of other diners pushed up too close. The food was very good.
I return on a relatively sedate Tuesday evening to find the “Welly” (as the locals prefer to call it) quiet, cosy, welcoming and so candle-lit you’d think they’d had their electricity cut off.
It’s owned and run by Russell and Sarah Jeffrey, a husband and wife team who take care of front-of-house and kitchen respectively and have done for the past 16 years. They describe it as a pub with a restaurant attached and try to make sure that the bar stays friendly and informal while the restaurant feels more special.
Their sure and steady caretaking means that this handsome, deceptively-large country boozer does a solid trade with loyal locals as well as with visitors from nearby Beverley and Driffield.
The cuisine is billed as traditional country pub food. The menu suggest the kitchen has wider culinary ambitions.
Or maybe they have customers with broader horizons and more adventurous tastes and need to meet that demand with dishes like wok-fried pork belly with teriyaki sauce and peppered duck liver with fresh mango salad.
The large dining room seats up to 20, a smaller one accommodates around 10 round one table. The room is beam-lined, low-lit and intimate, distinguishable from the bar as a posher option.
Starters arrived with efficient promptness; pan-seared king scallops with cauliflower puree and raisin and black Muscat fusion.
The scallops were well cooked and tender. The raisin and wine fusion was a distinctive but strongly-sweet sauce and though the cauliflower puree was less sweet there was a lack of balance. I noticed a scallop and black pudding combination on the bar menu which might be a better bet.
The plate featured two king scallops and two smaller queenies. Someone should let the customer know if their dish is going to be amended, especially when they’re paying £11.25.
Another starter was a marvellous pressed ham hock terrine with quail’s egg and pineapple piccalilli. I’d have loved it even more if the quail’s eggs had been oozingly soft rather than hard-boiled.
But I’ll forgive any dish a great deal that can work pineapple into a piccalilli and make it sit so well. Very good pub grub.
The Wellington’s signature dish seems to be fillet of beef Wellington “deconstructed” – described as lightly pan-roasted beef with sautéed wild mushrooms, foie gras, puff pastry and Madeira jus. It costs £24.95 – a good fiver over the next dearest main dish and so we decided against it.
I wanted to see what the non-English offerings on the menu were like and chose roast duck breast, Asian vegetables and soft noodles with lime, garlic and chilli dressing.
The duck was pink and tender but virtually taste-free. The accompanying plate of noodly veg was bland and uninspired. I could only find carrot, courgette and pepper in my “Asian” vegetables. I’d anticipated something a little more exotic.
Much more like it was a tempting-looking plate of grilled sirloin steak with green peppercorn sauce, fat chips and a rocket and parmesan salad. I got the impression this is the kind of dish the Welly does best – good ingredients, well-cooked and simply plated-up. The stack of huge chips and the glossy, tender steak made for a hearty pairing.
Desserts were an apple, plum and almond crumble from the school of hearty good home cooking. A chocolate and roast hazelnut tart with raspberry fool was very nice indeed.
Between the two of us we had roughly one good dish per course – a rather underwhelming average score.
I’d like to say that it was at least solid value, but the Welly knows how to charge. I’d argue that for the quality of food on offer their prices are about 15 per cent too high. When the kitchen sticks to what its best at, it produces good pub grub.
If they upgrade their dishes and prices to claim restaurant standard, there should be a commensurate “wow” factor. Sadly, there wasn’t.
Their customers clearly don’t agree. By the time we left, the dining room was fairly full and there were plenty of other diners in the bar.
So there must be no shortage of repeat clients happy with the quality if the food and its pricing.
Maybe it’s me, not The Welly, that’s missing something.
Starters – £4.50 to £11.25.
Mains – £13.50 to £24.95.
Desserts – £6.50.
Wines: £16.95 upwards
Open: Lunchtimes everyday between Noon 2pm except Monday. Evenings, Tuesday to Saturday, 6.30pm till 9pm
The Wellington Inn, 19 The Green, Lund, Driffield,
East Yorks. YO25 9TE. Tel: 01377 217294 www.thewellingtoninn.co.uk