Did The Cock in Hemingford Grey really deserve the Good Pub Guide Pub of the Year award - we went to find out

The duck parcel starter at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.
The duck parcel starter at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.
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I first wrote about The Cock about six weeks ago when it won the Good Pub Guide Pub of the Year award for 2019, no less.

A chef friend of mine, who had seen what I had written, called me. “Have you seen the menu? We will have to go,” he said.

Brad Barnes dines at The Cock in Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

Brad Barnes dines at The Cock in Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

So I went, only I took the wife and little ones (sorry Lee). And it turned out to be sound advice.

At a time when we are constantly reminded of the number of pub closures every year, The Cock’s story is a remarkable one. Rocky-like, even.

A tired old boozer a mile or so off the A14, close to the Rive Ouse, gets taken over in 2001 and goes on to be the best in the business not once but twice (it also won Pub of the Year in 2013), firmly establishing itself as a destination pub/restaurant along the way.

And to stick with the boxing parlance, we were knocked out by the food, service and the whole ambience of the place.

The children's roast dinner at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

The children's roast dinner at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

We had driven 30 miles on a godforsaken afternoon of nonstop rain and arrived at the door a little windswept and drizzled on. But the first unmistakable whiff of burning logs and it was all forgotten, we were won over.

It has that quaint little village pub look, with wooden floor, lots of wood panelling, and a big fireplace with a logburner

There was just a great buzz about the place (we were in the restaurant side, there’s a separate entrance if you just want to use the bar) and a real mix of clientele, young couples, families and larger groups.

We were shown to our table, and ordered our drinks while we checked out the menus - and looking at the food being delivered to tables around us, there were some difficult decisions to be made.

The trout main course at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

The trout main course at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

For me a duck parcel to start (£8). It was bigger than I expected, but the quality matched the quantity all the way; soft, beautiful shredded duck meat and what a flavour in a crisp, crumbly pastry. Interestingly served on a bed of vegetable shavings packed with big flavours- not least the ginger.

Donna chose from the specials board which was dominated by fish.

Up first, mackerel with Israeli cous cous (£8) - the flavour of the fish balanced by the sweetness of sundried tomatoes and olives.

She followed that with trout in a bean cassoulet (£16). Another great combination with the delicate fish complemented by the chorizo.

The guinea fowl at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

The guinea fowl at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

My main course was a seasonal Sunday roast- with guinea fowl the star on the plate. Not something I had tried before, but it was soft and succulent with a slight crispiness on the skin and flavour that had much more to offer than, say, chicken, but not all out gamey.

The roast potatoes were right on the money, too. Golden, slightly crisp, fluffy inside and with a great “roasted in fat” flavour. Throw in some nice vegetables and a meaty jus and you have a real winner (£14).

The child’s roast dinner was equally as good with two terrific slices of striploin beef, both nice and pink which our five year old thought was amazing. I tried it and, yes, it was very, very good.

And the Yorkshire pudding, a slightly different texture and taste to the norm, got the thumbs up too.

Crisp, home-made fish goujons, with crunchy fries and peas, kept daughter two quiet, but both found room for ice cream and a moreish sticky toffee pud.

For me, The Cock is as good a place of its type I have eaten in, anywhere.

The mackerel starter at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

The mackerel starter at The Cock, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

A 10 out of 10 venue? The decision was unanimous.

Brad Barnes dined at The Cock at High Street, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon - www.cambscuisine.com/the-cock-hemingford

BRAD’S RATING - 10/10

Brad Barnes dines at The Cock in Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

Brad Barnes dines at The Cock in Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

Brad Barnes dines at The Cock in Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.

Brad Barnes dines at The Cock in Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon.