The New Inn, Betchton, Sandbach: The Cookman Review
Glowing like a beacon in the dark, no country inn ever
looked more inviting than this one.
We'd spent an hour driving around Sandbach in an abortive
bid to find a venue allegedly located in Sweettooth Lane.
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In the end, the loved ones were sceptical about the
existence of both venue and location.
I was accused of leading them on a wild goose chase, of
being duped by hoaxers into frittering away an evening looking
for a street that sounded like something out of children's
"Mr Marzipan lived in Sweettooth Lane, just round the corner
from Peppermint Park."
Voices were raised. The search was abandoned, and I realised
I had a mutiny on my hands.
Outvoted two-to-one, I had to agree to settle for fish and
chips on the way home.
So the sight of this roadside pub and restaurant, lit up and
promising good food in a warm and cosy atmosphere was one to
gladden the heart.
It wasn't in Sweettooth Lane, but that didn't matter. Even
the loved ones lost interest in fish and chips as soon as it
hove into view on the Newcastle road out of Sandbach.
By an odd coincidence, considering we ate in a fish
restaurant last week, albeit a Turkish one, The New Inn
specialises in fish and seafood, including crab and
There's a smart restaurant called Candles, but we were happy
to dine in the long bar area, with its big windows and views of
The locals were friendly and the management and staff were
polite and helpful without being over-attentive.
The girl who looked after us never once asked: "Is
everything all right with your meals?," a question which always
suggests to me that the waitress suspects that everything might
not be all right with my meal.
As well as the fresh fish and other dishes on the specials
board, the regular menu includes what are called "classic
favourites," grills, cuisine from the Continent and beyond and
choices for kids and veggies.
I started with moules marini?re (£4.95), a great big dish of
same. The mussels were in good nick, too, although the liquid
was lukewarm, a word used by Herself to describe her black
pudding with mustard sauce (£3.95).
She said the sauce was bland, rather like flour and water,
tasting too little of mustard to be properly advertised a
The Son and Heir had chosen the whitebait (£3.95) and these
were excellent, good sized fish, well cooked and served with
salad, tartare sauce and brown bread and butter.
He followed this with a thick sirloin steak (£12.95) that
looked so rare I was tempted to suggest that a good vet might
have saved it. But the boy likes his beef bloody and he rated
the steak among the best he?s had.
It came with peas, tomato, mushrooms and onion rings (one
restaurant chain may have withdrawn onion rings from its menus,
but it thrives elsewhere).
From the fish selection, Herself ordered the halibut with
prawns and mushrooms (£12.95) and said it was literally good in
parts - the halibut that is. While parts of it were well
cooked, firm and tasty, others were rather slimy and
It was obviously not her lucky night because my own choice
of main course - a sheep - was outstanding.
I exaggerate slightly when I say sheep because it was the
biggest lamb henry (£11.95) I've ever tackled, although it was
no effort to remove the sweet and tender meat from the
It could best be described as a joint of lamb, suitable for
a family of four. It defeated me.
Our meals came with seasonal vegetables, cooked al dente,
and although some of the desserts on offer were hard to resist,
none of us had room for pudding.
By the way, I have not yet given up all hope of ever finding
the eaterie in Sweettooth Lane. It's not a name you could
really make up - not with any expectation of being taken
So when the loved ones have recovered from our drive round
Sandbach in ever decreasing circles we will return.
Only before we do, we'll have state-of-the-art satellite
navigation installed in the Peugeot.
This review was first published in Sentinel Sunday on
October 8, 2006.