Muddy’s fave new hangout, The Priory
After a stylish gastro pub for lunch or dinner? We've found just the joint down Loughborough way.
Have you ever walked into a place and got a great vibe from it before you’d even sat down? That’s how I felt when I visited The Priory, Loughborough.
The Priory’s striking stone facade is perched on the corner of a busy road so it’s pretty hard to miss; the building juts out to the front and features two turrets on either side. Easy to get to from the M1, there’s ample parking outside and if you’re not bothered by the views of the busy road ahead, then you’ll love the alfresco seating at the front.
Run by indie pub company Distinctive Inns, they’ve ploughed a substantial amount of dosh (£650,000 to be exact) into what was once a tatty local pub/restaurant and turned it into a gorgeous gastropub and it seems to have paid off!
The Priory is the kind of place that you’d love to call your ‘local’ because it serves good food in seriously stylish surroundings – the kind of place you don’t mind putting your stilettos on for!
You enter into the bar area and the light, airy restaurant opens up towards the back. The decor inside would make any budding interior designer stop and take notes; there’s a rustic vibe going on in the bar area with exposed brick walls, tiled bar tables and parquet floor.
Meanwhile in the restaurant, there’s cosy caramel-coloured leather booths, a feature fireplace, quirky accessories and luxury fabric curtains – which look like they’ve come straight from Designers Guild and have cleverly been used to separate the drinking/eating area.
Walls are heaving with prints, mirrors and box frames filled with quirky accessories. There’s definitely something more sophisticated about this place compared to other local eateries in the area, and that’s obviously the point.
While it may have its regulars, there were some who had obviously made the effort to travel a little further and there were also quite a few large groups. We visited for an early Sunday lunch and by the time we left, the restaurant was heaving.
SCOFF / QUAFF
Just like it’s decor, the menu offerings are also slightly different. The ‘Small Plates,’ inspired by world flavours immediately grabbed my attention; think baba ghanoush, patatas bravas, calamari and tomato arancini to name a few.
These can be ordered as a starter or you can pick a few as a main. We decided to have them as starters and went for the Asian-inspired crispy fried cauliflower and the chorizo sausage rolls.
For mains, I was actually a little spoilt for choice…hmmm gnocchi, spinach and mushroom pie, risotto or a roast? Seeing as I had skipped breakfast, I went straight for the veggie three nut roast. It was served with potatoes, root veggies, buttered greens with a white wine and rosemary cream.
Mr Muddy picked the thyme & honey marinated half char-grilled chicken with fries and slaw. He’d already announced he wanted to come back before he’d even finished his dish – always a good sign!
Portion sizes were really generous so unfortunately, there was no room for pudding which was a shame because the numerous choices including salted caramel tart, choc brownie and sticky toffee pudding sounded to die for.
There is a kids menu with dishes including cheese burger, macaroni cheese, fish goujons and butcher’s sausages (hoovered up by my eldest) and even a choice of Sunday roast. If they need to burn off energy before or after their meal, it’s safe for them to play outside if you’re with them, as it’s far enough away from the main road, but there’s no specific ‘play’ area.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Sunday roast! Great for friends and family who are in town for a few days but the restaurant does get exceptionally busy on Sunday, so best to book in advance.
Not for: Those after a small, quiet village pub or want a green space to sit outside or those who want a playground to keep the kids entertained.
The damage: This is gastropub territory so a little more pricier than your average place. Small plates start from £2.95 and go up to £5.95. Mains start from £8.95 for a salad and go up to £20.95 for a Sirloin steak. Sandwiches around the £7 mark. Sunday roast from £11.95 and puddings all at £5.95 apart from the ice cream which is £3.95. Kids menu starts from £4.95 for breakfast. Puds range from £2.50-£2.95 and the Sunday roasts are all £6.95.