The Millstone: Take a look at this stunning village pub with bistro dining

It has been a couple of years since I last visited The Millstone at Barnack, between Peterborough and Stamford, and on that occasion what was once something of a go-to village pub had clearly seen better days.

​Well the good news is that that same tired looking, dark and dingy, unloved country pub has been shown a little TLC.. well quite a lot actually, and it is back on track in the destination-dining stakes.

Since being taken over two years ago the transformation has been nothing short of amazing.

It is a credit to the new owners that they have been able to open it up space-wise, it’s a little more open plan, bring it bang up to date as a modern, comfortable pub and restaurant while not losing it rural, stone-built charm.

The outdoor space with its own bar is also something to behold too, and as of last week a converted barn –The Lounge – has been further refurbished offering another great space for customers.

And perhaps above all else they have managed to bring back to the residents of Barnack a welcoming local and at the same time create a “village pub with bistro dining” for those who like that kind of thing.

It was terrific to visit the place last week…. and I haven’t started on the food yet!

Highly regarded chef Sam Sharman, who was part of the opening process in 2021, is back in the kitchen and has put together some new menus including a lunchtime offering, pizzas from Tuesday to Friday, Table d’hote on Wednesday (£22 for 3 courses) and Sunday roasts

The evening a-la-carte menu when I popped in has some nibbles, four starters, eight mains and a selection of side dishes. There’s something you would expect of a bistro – fancy fish and chips, gourmet burger, that kind of thing – and some a little less obvious and more adventurous. Ideal if, like me, you are a curious diner and like to try something different.

Take my starter as an example: home-smoked brisket donut, with pecorino (Italian cheese), mushroom and truffle (£10).

Crisp on the outside, doughy on the inside and the great smell and taste of the beef is released when you delve in. Excellent and quite filling.

The mackerel pate with a chilly cucumber sorbet, pickled cucumber and sourdough crisp with fennel jelly (£11) had a marvellous collaboration of flavours and textures.

The main event for me was the pork loin, sage and black pudding wellington, bramley apple ketchup, grandpa’s cabbage and a pork reduction (£19) with a side of braised greens (£5.50).

I have rarely seen it on a menu so I had to give it a try and was mightily impressed. Cooked so neither the pork or black pudding had dried out while the pastry was nice and crisp. Sitting on the thick, sweet apple ketchup and drenched in a beautiful rich gravy it was top notch.

The asparagus was spot on in terms of texture and flavour and then the chef’s take on Grandpa’s cabbage… oh my word, a taste sensation with those salty bacon lardons running through it.

Over the table, cooked exactly how you ask, the steak du jour with a stuffed mushroom (pate or garlic), confit tomato and crisp, triple cooked chips. Traditional and bang on the money.

A perfect panna cotta and irresistible sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and ice cream later, and we were well and truly done.

A lovely pub, very well stocked in the beer and wine department, welcoming with friendly service. You couldn’t ask for more.

Here’s a round up of 25 great beer gardens (including The Millstone) to seek out this summer.