THE Pyne Arms, tucked away in the village of East Down, is a welcoming and cosy countryside pub. And the food it serves is superb.
On a dark October Wednesday night, the place was a haven of light, warmth and conviviality. We were greeted with a cheery smile by the barmaid who took our drink orders and directed us to our table in the bar area.
Given that it was mid-week, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people there.
A group of women had taken over one of the areas off the main bar area for a meeting/social gathering of some description and there were several couples besides us enjoying meals.
The fire was blazing in an inviting manner, and the fresh white walls offset the wooden tables and chairs stylishly.
A menu that ranged from curry to bean burger via pasta and pie gave us plenty of food for thought.
First off, I opted for mushrooms stuffed with brie and cranberries topped with cheesy breadcrumbs and accompanied by a light side salad including pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes. Melt in the mouth delicious, the flavours and textures combined to cause a taste sensation.
My fellow diner had the chicken pâté with toast and side salad that went down with the appropriate murmurs of satisfaction.
The presentation was well thought out for both dishes; they were on wooden boards and the pâté came in a little jar with the toast piled next to it. It's the creative touches like this which make you realise the effort the chef has gone to and it's lovely to see.
Main meals were steak and ale pie with creamed mash and seasonal veg for me and fish and chips with mushy peas for my fellow diner.
The pie had a tasty shortcrust lid, the meat practically fell off the fork it was that tender and the sauce was dark and rich with flavour. Fluffy, creamy mash provided a tasty contrast.
My fellow foodie's fish was light and tender and the golden, chunky chips had home-made written all over them.
Ever slave to my sweet tooth, I chose apple and blackberry crumble with ice cream to round the meal off. My fellow diner had a cappuccino.
The nutty topping was an interesting variation on the crumble theme and was the ideal partner for the sharp yet sweet fruit content.
We set off into the autumn night full and smiling.
Where: The Pyne Arms, East Down, EX31 4LX
Cost: The above meal with drinks came to £46.30.
Bookings: 01271 850055