DINING OUT: Northamptonshire village food pub celebrates string of awards after being named the best in the county
It has just won the title of Northamptonshire Food Pub of the Year on the back of its superb dining experience.
Image magazine paid a visit to The Plough in Shutlanger.
Nestled in the heart of the South Northamptonshire countryside is an award-winning pub which has really made its mark on the pub scene since reopening two years ago.
The Plough in Shutlanger is a fine-dining gastro pub tucked in the small countryside village which houses just a few hundred residents.
Just minutes down the road from Stoke Bruerne, The Plough has made a big impression in a short space of time.
It already has a string of awards behind it and is sitting comfortably at the top of popular food and travel website TripAdvisor as one of the most highly rated restaurants in Northamptonshire at the time of going to press.
The secret to its success can only be down to one thing, and that’s the hard-working and talented team working around the clock to make it happen.
Owners Jim Kay and Jessie King reopened The Plough in August 2014 following a major three week refurbishment after taking on the business.
Villagers welcomed them with open arms as they set about making The Plough not only a friendly local but a destination dining pub.
The couple have put their heart and soul into the business and it really shows. They have transformed the inside of the character building into a warm and cosy environment with plenty of personal touches dotted around the place.
The bar area seats around 20 people and has warm lighting and comfy chairs – the perfect place to relax and unwind with a large glass or wine, cocktail or pint of beer.
The restaurant, which seats 34, is for more formal dining yet remains intimate and cosy with an open fire, relaxed decor and giant Champagne bottles.
Outside has also been given a makeover with plenty of wooden seating ready for a hot day and a shelter for the cooler months. Flowers and plants have been carefully planted to make it secluded away from the car park.
The Plough has a very modern and contemporary feel yet has retained the character of the building beautifully.
Jim, who has worked as chef in various different places in Northamptonshire for more than 20 years, said: “Everyone was really happy when we reopened.
“It’s been hard work but it’s been better than we would have every hoped for.
“We wanted it to be a dining experience for people with different ingredients.
“We’re in such a lovely area and it’s a nice drive out here.”
With Jessie leading the front of house team, the couple set about establishing their clientele and building up the business.
Jim said: “We wanted to establish our clientele, be the best in the county and then go for a rosette.”
They set their goals high and went for it, providing a gastronomic menu to suit all tastes.
Very quickly The Plough rose to the top of the rankings on TripAdvisor going in at number six for anyone searching for restaurants in Northamptonshire. For the past eight months The Plough has enjoyed the top spot on the website with an army of happy customers, standing proud ahead of more than 1,300 restaurants in the county.
Jim said: “That blew me away. I hoped that we could get into the top ten but to get the top spot was incredible.”
The awards soon began to flow in with a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2015 and again in 2016.
Last year the pub was the runner-up in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2015 for the Booker Food Pub of the Year award. In recent weeks The Plough was named the Booker Food Pub Of The Year at the 2016 awards and sous chef Marcus Franklin was runner-up in the Young Chef of the Year category.
Jim and Jessie said: “A huge thank you to all our customers, voters and staff for helping us achieve this. We are so thankful to you all.”
To add to the list, The Plough gained a Silver award in the Eat Out Eat Well scheme for healthy eating and low fat dishes and has a five star hygeine rating. Next year the team will be going for gold and plan to submit a menu to the AA for consideration of a Rosette in 2017 - something only a handful of places in the county has.
The menu is certainly impressive and it’s the attention to detail, flavours and fresh ingredients that make it stand out.
Herbs are grown in the organic herb garden outside and garnished with flowers from the edible garden, with plans to start an organic vegetable patch next year.
Jim and the team change the menu every three months and current highlights include the carpaccio of beef and Japanese salad on the starters and surf and turf and spring lamb tribute on the mains. There’s also a tempting array of specials to choose from.
The food is so delicious and so fresh that you almost don’t feel too guilty for indulging.
Desserts (if you can fit them in) include chocolate tart and The Plough cheeseboard among other tasty treats. All this washed down with traditional ales, world wines, premium spirits and fancy cocktails.
Jim and Jessie are now looking forward to the festive season at the pub with the launch of the seasonal December menu. Plans for an extension next year and a beehive are also in the pipeline.
Places like The Plough are hard to find.
Anyone can open a pub but it takes real skill, talent and hard work to make it an exceptionally good one.