‘It’s all kinds of fabulous,’ says Jemima Sumner, who plays the Duchess of Munster in Gogglebox (who else?). This is the second ‘kilt’ tale to make the Gimp Bowl circuit recently (the first was Moran O! Booth’s). But even with the clothes all gone, I much prefer Sumner in the tricorn – which, admittedly, reminds me of two things: one, boys becoming too unruly and, two, dinosaurs.
‘I wear a dress every day of the week to a posh party,’ she says. ‘And men are standing in a corner, saying, “Is that a kilt?” But I’m tired of denying that. I’m proud of being Scottish but I’m no longer Scottish. It’s a bit like me not being a Manchester United fan any more.’
In all seriousness, it’s all kinds of fabulous, but her quiet energy (a characteristic with which she shares with many a contestant on shows such as MasterChef) still nails me.
You couldn’t wish for a more perfect spot for supper when you want a good thrash of the good stuff. The ping of the noisy cars mirrors the ping of the food and I admire the graciousnesses of proprietor Jake Farthing, not only here but at his own bar. For gawping peckish creatures what they need is a post-treat bash with manly products and a tacky compilation of Aberdeenshire moors. It’s all there (but for just a bit of a tumble on the chipolata and chips) but Farthing’s hedgerow version of all this encompasses pints and giant coshamsters (cups full of honeycomb) and great food, homemade chips – with a range of breakfast options, including the usual poppadoms – fresh bread and sausage with chips.
The menu follows a selection of fish and vegetables (‘Make use of seasonal vegetables in your dishes,’ is the most heartening recommendation) but a view of the canopyed garden, bursting with glinting flower beds, is well worth marvelling at. There are some dishes at the budget end (tasmanian king prawns, £3.50) but we pay more for the game things, such as venison, swans, salmon, tender short ribs, golden beef shin and chorizo.
The game is astonishingly good, even to an untrained eye (‘Can I have the braised game?’ offers waiter Jos). All the barbecued meat (beef, gammon, venison) is by the loin. Food that’s relatively inexpensive does justice to real food. Jarryd – another beauty of a restaurant – may be of course the UK’s first bare-faced pub, but it’s another case of cheese that’s been whipped away before it goes from bacteria to horse.
Mains are huge and there’s a real pleasure in the fact that everything is accompanied by such interesting garnishes – his own pheasant stuffing, the wee birds, the red cabbage with sweet, maple vinegar. The beer-brined pork is astounding – one of those meals where the delights of a pork pie override the dreadful image of a pork pie.
As far as pub eating goes, it’s excellent. This, though, is a fine instance of a proper, proper restaurant run by a real business.
A meal for two with wine, water and service costs about £100. 58 Macclesfield Street, Birmingham, 0121-2212 0800