MEAL REVIEW: The Cross Inn, Paxton, near Berwick

Oven-roast chicken supreme with potato, tomato and chorizo stew
Oven-roast chicken supreme with potato, tomato and chorizo stew

The Cross Inn at Paxton, closed for some 18 months, has been given a new lease of life under new owners.

It recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment and, after hearing many positive comments, we were keen to sample its fare.

Homemade steak and ale pie with shortcrust pastry

Homemade steak and ale pie with shortcrust pastry

Now Paxton is a lovely place to be on a summer’s day but unfortunately our lunchtime trip coincided with dismal weather which meant we were forced to cancel our plans for a walk along the nearby River Tweed.

It also meant the attractive tables and chairs to the front of the pub only received a cursory glance as we dashed for cover.

However, it was noted that it would be a lovely spot to sit with a cold beer or soft drink on a better day.

First impressions of the refurbished interior are very positive.

Goats' cheese and balsamic tomatoes starter

Goats' cheese and balsamic tomatoes starter

An attractive bar with a real fire make for a cosy feel, with several locals in for a lunchtime drink clearly glad to see the pub’s return.

Also on display were a delicious looking array of scones, cakes and traybakes which the pub has just started selling on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.

There is also a large screen TV, ideal for the summer of sport ahead of us. A good spot to watch the Euro 2016 final, I would have thought.

I note a sign that Sunday lunches are now being served as well – now that sounds good.

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding

A blackboard shows that it’s quiz night too. Clearly there’s a big effort being made to get the local community on board to make the pub a success – a must in this day and age when drink-driving laws have changed our habits.

We were warmly welcomed and taken through to the pleasant dining room, its walls covered in historic prints of Paxton and the wider area.

A blackboard displays the daily specials but there is also a small lunch menu of half-a-dozen or so main dishes.

Although we were without our children on this occasion, we were told that half portions are served for younger ones and one or two of their usual favourites are also available.

The Cross Inn, Paxton

The Cross Inn, Paxton

I selected the goats’ cheese and balsamic tomatoes starter which was very tasty.

For me the portion size was just about spot on – sometimes a giant roulade of goats’ cheese can be just too much.

The zingy flavour of the balsamic tomatoes served alongside it provided a good contrast.

My wife went for the wholetail crayfish, tomato and avocado salad.

It was beautifully presented but was a little disappointing and could have done with a dressing to add some flavour.

On to the mains. As soon as I saw homemade steak and ale pie with shortcrust pastry on the menu, my mind was pretty much made up.

Inside the Cross Inn at Paxton

Inside the Cross Inn at Paxton

When it came with ‘proper’ chips, I was a very happy boy indeed.

The pie seemed to have been reheated as the shortcrust pastry crust was on the soft side.

However, it was still delicious and the green beans which accompanied the dish were perfect.

The oven roast chicken supreme with potato, tomato and chorizo stew was full of flavour.

Such a hearty meal, together with a hint of spice, was perfectly warming on such a grey day – and a fine way of using up a few leftover ingredients.

To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of room left for dessert but persevered in the interests of providing a complete review.

My choice was sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and ice cream – another solid selection and one that did not disappoint.

Unwilling to admit defeat but without the capacity to manage a pudding, my wife selected a chocolate crunchie traybake. This was very rich and sweet but delicious all the same.

She generously decided to save half of it and take it home for our daughter who gave it the thumbs up too.

We throughly enjoyed our visit to The Cross Inn. It’s had a chequered history in recent years so it’s lovely to see it back.

It’s a huge asset to a village like Paxton if it can boast a successful pub and restaurant and the early indications are that it is on to a winner, serving good, honest food at a price which is fair for the local market.

We certainly plan to make a return visit in the near future, hopefully on a day when the sun is shining.

KEY INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW

The Cross Inn has now started serving coffee, scones, cake and traybakes every Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning from 9.30am.

It also serves Sunday lunch, booking recommended.

SELECTION FROM THE MENU

Starters

Homemade soup of the day......£4.50

Sauteed mushrooms, garlic, cream and toast......£5.95

Grilled goats’ cheese & balsamic tomatoes......£6.25

Wholetail crayfish, tomato and avocado salad......£6.50

Mains

Oven roast chicken supreme, potato, tomato & chorizo stew......£11.50

Homemade steak & ale stew, shortcrust pastry, chips & green beans......£10.50

Crisp battered haddock, chips & peas......£10.50

Tomato & red pepper risotto......£8.95

Desserts

Sticky toffee pudding......£5.50

Treble chocolate brownie and ice cream......£5.50

White chocolate cheesecake and fresh fruit......£5.50

Star ratings (out of 10)

Quality of food......8

Presentation......9

Choice......8

Vegetarian choice......7

Atmosphere......8

Use of local food......7

Service......8

Value for money......7

Access for the disabled......9

Toilet for the disabled......Yes

Beer garden......Yes

Overall rating......8

Verdict: We’re really pleased to see The Cross Inn open again and that the new owners seem to be on the right track. It’s an important asset for Paxton and a lovely trip out for anyone in the Berwick, north Northumberland and eastern Borders areas.

Contact: 01289 384877

The previous Northumberland Gazette Eating Out column reviewed You Only Live Once (or YOLO), Bell Villas, Ponteland. And if you missed it, here is a link to the Gazette’s top tips of 2014.