Eat Here: The Saxon Mill, Warwick
The Saxon Mill’s had a makeover of epic proportions and Muddy Stilettos Warwickshire couldn’t wait to totter in for a pre-opening nose.
This attractive stone gastropub in a former 12th Century mill has a wonderful riverside location, a working watermill and views over Guy’s Cliffe. It’s a five minutes’ drive from Warwick town centre on the busy Coventry Road.
My friend Elizabeth finished work early to join me for a 2-course lunch. We both admired the grey vintage lamp-posts in the car park (like the ones Ryan Gosling swings around in La La Land) and co-ordinating paintwork on the pub exterior.
As we arrived (in the damp, grey drizzle) a carpenter was adding the finishing touches to a smart new timber outdoor seating area. The Saxon Mill as due to open the following day after a two-week revamp.
What was a light, airy rustic gastropub, now has a cosier modern country pub feel with muted green, duck egg blue and ochre feature walls, co-ordinated patterned seating, contemporary artwork, interesting lighting and feature log fireplaces like this one:
New General manager Dan Delve who’s just moved over from The Trout in Oxford, kindly gave us a quick tour. He said: “It’s a bit more clinical and clean cut – the rustic gastropub look has been overdone.
“At the front of the pub there’s a brand-new brunch bar; while the restaurant at the back is a more formal dining area. There’s further tables outside overlooking the River Avon.”
The upstairs restaurant has a similar colour scheme. I really like the lovely wooden floors and beamed ceilings up here. It’s actually a very light, bright room. Dan also showed us a more intimate dining area hidden behind some draped curtains with fabulous views overlooking the river.
We sat, here, in the newly-extended dining room at the far end of the downstairs restaurant with its ochre and green feature walls, mustard yellow chairs and green splash patterned bench. It used to be more of a lounge area with big sofa’s. Nathan, our friendly tattooed waiter helped us suss out what to choose from the lunch menu.
We munched on a rustic bowl of complimentary handmade tortillas chips before tucking into our starters: Thyme-Roasted Portobello Mushrooms in a stilton (Cropwell Bishop) sauce on rustic toast (me). Salt & Szechuan Pepper Squid with a very good, as in strong garlicky aioli, and light tempura batter (Elizabeth).
Other starter choices include Bury Black Pudding Potato Cake with Poached Egg Spinach and Whisky Hollandaise, and Deep-Fried Somerset Brie.
For mains, I went for Roasted Salmon Supreme with thyme roasted butternut squash, seaweed, scorched lemon and hot fennel relish. And that’s no lie, the lemon was scorching hot and you could really taste the seaweed.
Elizabeth had Homemade Smoked Haddock & Horseradish Fishcakes with poached egg, spinach and hollandaise.
We shared some sweet potato fries.
There are plenty of pub staples, including Steak, Ale and Portobello Mushroom Pie, a Roasted Winter Vegetable Tart and Battered Halloumi with twice-cooked chunky chips, plus Pizzas such as Hand-Pulled Chicken & Lovage Pesto and Caramelised Fig & Whipped Goat’s Curd.
For anyone with a sweet-tooth, desserts include the mammoth House Sharer (Chocolate Brownie, Baked New York-style Cheesecake, Lemon Tart, Strawberries and a Bourbon Vanilla Ice-Cream Cookie Sandwich – OMG!), Sticky Toffee Pudding, a Mini Dessert and a Hot Drink or British Cheese Board.
We were child-free, but I did check out the kid’s menu. Children can have a main and a dessert for £7.95 with six standard choices, and a good selection of desserts including apple and blackberry crumble and strawberries and frozen natural yoghurt, as well as Cookies, a brownie and ice creams.
This is the cosy downstairs seating area at the front of the pub where you can now order brunch for the first time. The Saxon Mill, Dan the general manager told us, is going BIG on brunches…
So, I sneaked a peak at their first Brunch menu just for you…
There’s Traditional and Vegetarian Breakfasts, with beetroot hash an interesting variation, Belgian Waffles, Steak & Eggs, Homemade Mango & Passion Fruit Bircher, sprinkled with omega seeds, as well as Smashed Avocado & Smoked Salmon. Six separate egg choices range from Egg Florentine and Scrambled Eggs to Lobster Benedict.
And then there are the Morning Pick-Me-Ups – now we’re talking – White Peach Bellini, Classic Bloody Mary and an Expresso Martini (Smirnoff Black Vodka, Tia Maria and a shot of Expresso, if you’re asking) for £6.95 each.
When we lived closer The Saxon Mill was a favourite of ours; I came here for a family meal on my 40th. Had the weather been better I’d intended to for a lovely 4 mile walk across a bridge over the RiverAvon, at the back of the pub, through open farmer’s fields to Old Milverton. We used to take our children when they were little and they loved the freedom of running wild.
Warwick Castle is only a 10-minute drive away if you’re up for a big family day out, or for an easy stroll popular St Nicholas Park is close to the river with good views of the castle. The lovely Victorian restored hedged gardens at Hill Close Gardens are pretty if you enjoy gardening, and there’s a family-friendly itinerary including a Snowdrop Open day on Feb 19, and Easter Family Workshop on April 13.
Good For: Riverside views, country walks to Old Milverton or along the river to Leamington Spa, warming log fires, casual laid-back brunches & Bloody Mary’s in the front bar section. Family celebrations/social gatherings in the more formal restaurant towards the back.
Not for: Fine diners. The menu is more geared towards pub staples with a contemporary twist, brunches and pizzas. The pub is perfectly child-friendly but families with younger children just need to be aware of the fast-flowing River Avon over the wall.
££: Mid-range. Brunches £5.95-£15.95 for a double Lobster Benedict; Starters between £4.95-£10.50; mains £9.95-£23.75; pizzas £9.95-£13.50; Sides £3-£4; Nibbles £2.95-£17.50 for Sticky Platter. Desserts £4.95-£11.50 for the House Sharer; children’s main & dessert £7.95.
The Saxon Mill, Coventry Road, Guys Cliffe, Warwick, Warwickshire
CV34 5YN. Tel: 01926 492255. Email: [email protected]