More from The Good Food Guide (1969-70)

Yesterday I posted a transcript of the 1967-68 Good Food Guide review of my Grandparent’s restaurant, The Miners Arms. It rather appealed to me for the brief insight into the character of my Grandfather.

Another review followed in 1969-70, and was also available at Thornbury Castle, so I snapped a copy. It too has a wonderful anti-garlic quote (my Grandparents were famous garlic haters), and I love the comments about the size of parties, and opening hours being dependent on the boiler. Marvellous. Note it also got a Good Food Award.

I should stress, the Miners’ Arms is now a residential house (has been for quite some time).

Anyway, without further ado:

PRIDDY, Somerset   Miners’ Arms
4 Miles NW of Wells. Map 2. Priddy 217

Paul Leyton and his wife continue the individuality and excellence of their cuisine and wines at this remote and rather drab-looking inn. It is not even in Priddy, which is remote enough; it stands about two miles to the north-east, at the junction of the B3134 and B3135; a small off-white building. The food is a la carte only; an average lunch will cost you 22/-, and dinner is 27/6, excluding wine; the menu is unusual and imaginative. Among the best dishes are Mendip snails a la sauce du patron, cooked in a mixture of English herbs and ‘not obliterated by garlic’ (1/2 dozen, 6/6); clear snail soup (5/-); quenelles of Chew Valley trout with Normandy sauce (8/- as a starter); chicken in cider (10/0); quenelles of veal with mushroom sauce (11/6 as main dish); smothered chicken (with cream, onions an white wine (9/-); steak Theodora (with herbs), (17/6) ; lemon syllabub (3/6); and Miners’ Delight (cream ice and apricot in a pastry case with hot sherry sauce and cream, 3/6). As is perhaps inevitable in such a position, the deep freeze is used, but if it was always used so skilfully we should not complain. It is no place for large party, as everything is cooked to order. ‘Six is the maximum we can cope with in one party,’ states Mr Leyton, ‘to cook for more at the same time seizes up the kitchen.’ You must be prepared to wait half an hour in the lounge while your starters are cooked and be some time at table. The rooms are rather simple. The wines, about 85 in all, are chosen with great skill, and as things are (alas) can’t be called expensive. Quarter-pint glasses of French red or white cost 3/6 to 4/6; among the more expensive wines, a personal choice would be Ch. La Louviere, white Graves, ’59 (22/-) or Scholls Bockelheimer ’64 (21/-) to begin with, Ch. Bourgneuf ’55 (26/-) or Volnay Caillerets ’57 (28/-) to follow, and thereafter ask Mr Leyton’s advice.

Cl. Chr. & Boxing Days; probably 2 weeks end Nov/Dec; ‘and when the boiler bursts’. Must book. Meals 11.30-2; (summer) 6-9.45 (Su 7-7.30); (winter) 6.30-8.30 (Sa 9.3, Su 7-7.30). Alc main dishes 5/6 to 17/6. Cover 2/6. Seats 24. Restaurant & residential lic. Car park. No dogs in d/r. B&B from 30/-. STABILISED PRICES


The 1967-68 Good Food Guide

Whilst at a family wedding last week at Thornbury Castle, my father showed me a copy the castle had in its library of the 1967-68 Good Food Guide, which contained a review of my Grandparent’s restaurant, The Miners’ Arms.

My Grandfather died back in 1998 (his obituaries are available to read here), and throughout my life I’ve always been very interested in what he got up, and what people had to say about him. So this rather tickled me, as it gives a bit of insight into my grandfather’s character.

That said, perhaps I’m rather affected by my own memories. Reading it now, I’m sure he probably annoyed a few people in his time with his idea of refusing to serve people particular dishes who ‘spoilt their palettes’, but as somebody who’s toes curl whenever I see anybody unthinkingly applying salt to a meal (particularly one I’ve cooked) before tasting it, I can certainly sympathise.

Another anecdote relayed to me by one of my uncles was that of my Grandfather’s refusal to wear a morning suit to his wedding very much the standard custom at the time I gather. Very good to hear of his dislike of tradition, and his independent views very much to the fore.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the extract from pages 261-262 of the 1967-68 Good Food Guide, by Raymond Postgate.

PRIDDY, Somerset. The Miners’ Arms, near Wells. At junction of B3134 and B3135. Map 2. Priddy. 217

During 1968 Mr and Mrs Paul Leyton, whose cuisine and wines at this whitewashed inn on the Mendip plateau have for six years earned the highest praise members can bestow, became known to an even wider public as the people who turned away ‘a four-guinea orange slubbed silk Cecil Gee roll-neck shirt’. This matter is referred to in the Preface: Mr Leyton’s own staff are informal both in dress and manner. Anyway, in the evening, though not at lunch, women must wear skirts and men jackets, collars and ties. Mr Leyton is strict in other respects, too – he will not service his more delicate dishes to people who insist on spoiling their palate by drinking martinis beforehand – and, not surprisingly, some people think the food does not justify the fuss. But most are content to take the Miners’ Arms on its own terms. Mr Leyton uses his deep-freeze cleverly and defends its use elegantly, but an occasional dish of some freshly-dug and cooked root vegetable might with advantage appear more often on his menus. The restaurant is well known for its morning-gathered Mendip snails (7/6 a half dozen, or 5/- as a clear soup) but for delicacy his quenelles of trout (8/6), or loin of pork smoked in his own vast chumney (7/6) are better starters. Main courses, though very good, especially steak Theodora (rare with herbs, 17/6), are less remarkable. To finish, try orange conserve (5/-). The wine list has been reconstructed: there is still a ’49 Ch. Petrus (80/-) or a ’59 Musigny (50/-) or other even dearer bottles for a great occasion, but there are also five simple draught wines at 16/- a pint, and a charming English rose from Lt-Col Gore-Browne’s vineyard at Beaulieu (26/-).

Cl. Chr. & Boxing Days; 3 weeks Nov-Dec; Su D. Must book. Meals 11.30-2; 6-9.45 (winter, 8.30). Alc main dishes 7/6 to 17/6. Cover 2/6. Seats 24. No dogs. B&B from 35/- p.d.

* Class C

App. by too many members to list.