The Cricket Inn, Totley

I had the good fortune to be taken for lunch at the Cricket Inn, Totley recently. It is an absolute gem of a pub. Proper rural idyll. The skies were a little on the grey side during our visit, but I can imagine it being paradise on a balmy summer day, and not far off the same as a cosy winter retreat.

It was apparently the second pub taken on by Thornbridge Brewery, many years ago now. Unsurprisingly, it has the same feel as the brewery, and indeed Thornbridge Hall itself. A little idiosyncratic, full of charm and absolutely oozing with a sense of quality. The dark wood beams are interspersed with some surprisingly capacious rooms, with a mish-mash of decoration that speaks of the local countryside.

As you’d expect from the name, it backs on to the Totley Cricket Club. This is, without doubt, the most uneven cricket pitch I’ve ever seen, as it ranges across a not-insignificant slope. I presume that is to add a sense of danger for visiting teams. I should certainly like the opportunity of enjoying a lazy afternoon as a spectator whilst supping a cool pint in the beer garden.

Food Glorious Food

I had the double pleasure of sitting with legendary ale scribbler Roger Protz and the Thornbridge co-founder Simon Webster at lunch. It doesn’t really matter what the food is like with company that good. However, it was excellent and I don’t care who knows it.

The day we visited was Pie Day, and when you’ve returned North for the first time in a while, you don’t take the offer of pie lightly. And I happen to think I know pies, as a judge of many years’ experience at the British Pie Awards.

I went for the beef shin, potato and ale pie which came with mash, and I took a side of cauliflower cheese as well to at least pretend to be nailing my five a day.

As you would hope, the pie was the stuff of dreams. A crisp yet crumbly pastry, yielding to an ocean of tender, succulent meat within. Rich, thick gravy cascaded from the pie onto buttery mash. Then there was a gravy boat provided too. I tipped it, and along with a thick torrent of shining, meaty liquid out dolloped yet more beef onto my plate. Yes, the gravy was full of oxtail, strands of exquisite carnivorous pleasure. You know you’re back in the North when your gravy comes with extra meat.

Washed down with a pint of Green Mountain, a soft, fruity pale ale, I was as happy as a pig in the proverbial. Gorgeous pub, I could happily have moved in. But after an unhurried, but time-limited lunch, we were back in the minicab and away, for more Thornbridge adventures.

This visit was part of a press trip, and our meal was complimentary. But regardless my opinions are my own, dammit. I am not an influencer, I am a free woman!


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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