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What better way to spend a cold and wet weekend than with a visit to a Cheshire Inn, especially one that comes complete with an AA Rosette restaurant and a touch of five-star luxury. Amanda Maw heads to The Bear's Paw...

As we set off along the M6 towards the Bear’s Paw at Warmingham near Sandbach, the idea of spending time eating drinking by an open fire was an inviting prospect.

Within the hour we were parked up at the inn and being shown into the main reception room, which was utterly charming. Becky and her team were expecting us and had everything ready for our dinner, bed and breakfast stay. Warm and welcoming, she showed us to our room – a spacious Executive Double with modern finishes and care and attention had been given to the smallest details.

The room had recently been refurbished and was fresh, immaculate and perfect for our relaxing break. Once changed, we headed to the bar for pre-dinner drinks before our 7.30pm dinner reservation. Although still early, we arrived to a busy bar and restaurant area, a reflection of the restaurant’s reputation as a dining destination, nestled away in this quiet Cheshire village.

The main area of the inn has an open plan bar-come- dining space and is divided into sections, creating an atmosphere which is bustling with smaller areas still having a private, intimate feel. We were among a good mixture of diners including families, smart looking twenty-somethings and a few larger parties. A 40th birthday party was occupying the end of the room in a cut-out section that looked ideal for a celebration.

Our table had a view of the bar and was right next to a large, inviting log burner, perfect for a couple. From the moment we sat down to the end of our meal the staff were fantastic. Our waitress talked us through the menu which included classic fish dishes and grilled meats and together with the day’s specials and we were spoilt for choice. After studying the well curated wine list, we picked a light, refreshing white Australian Pinot to accompany the meal and ‘The Specials’ menu won the day.

We started with blue cheese bon bons - perfect little balls of melt in the mouth blue cheese, deep fried on top of a fruity house chutney. For main, we decided on a seafood assiette of salmon, seabass, tiger prawns and mussels. A fantastic dish of fresh fish cooked perfectly, covered with a rich lobster bisque. Unable to resist the parmesan and truffle oil chips, ordered by my dining companion, I couldn’t help but pinch a few, from across the table. 

All in all, the menu offers great selection of classics combined with some standout, star dishes. After dinner we headed over to the bar to chat about the real ales available at The Bear’s Paw and give some a try. One favourite was the aptly named The Bear’s Paw, a signature ale exclusive to the inn. There were five more creative sounding ale offers - a pint of ‘Bears Ass’ anyone? After giving the ‘Peach Melbear’ a go we moved on to cocktails, sinking into a plush leather sofa by the open fire.

I dont recall what time we eventually made it to bed but, I do know it was a great nights sleep. A triumph after four (or five) Espresso Martinis.