Eating out can be about convenience, a treat, celebration or just because but sometimes a menu just doesn't quite live up to the occasion. I'm happy to report that was definitely not the case for our visit to The Celtic Arms, at Northop.

A visit always feels a bit special, the long driveway-style road through the golf course giving a sense of grandeur, and the building itself being quite impressive.

We'd booked in for four people and were shown to a table that gave us plenty of room - no one was going to have to juggle drinks or plates to make room for this meal.

Now I'm a savoury kind of person, and as such starters are usually where I struggle to make a choice the most. The Celtic Arms didn't help that struggle, as I was met with what pretty much amounted to a list of some of my foods but in the end, having narrowed it down to mushroom & spinach tart or calamari, I went for the latter.

It came deep fried, with patatas bravas and garlic aioli. There was a spicy kick to the whole thing, and it was ridiculously moreish.

But my dining companions' choices seemed no less satisfying. My son had, as per, garlic bread with cheese - two good sized slices; dad the sweet potato wedges with date molasses; and my partner the chicken, chorizo and red pepper skewers with salsa.

I could easily have had all four dishes and called it a night. But social etiquette warrants one starter, followed by a main, and that selection was again, no easy feat.

There were the classics - including steak and ale pie (boyfriend's choice), fish and chips, steak burger with all the trimmings (son's pick) and chicken chasseur (dad's dish), and plenty of others, alongside 'from the grill', a good choice of fish dishes and some great sounding vegetarian/vegan options.

On this outing I went for the pulled beef lasagne, with garlic bread and salad. It was a big, bubbling portion and crammed with meat, balanced out with the rich tomato sauce. As good as everyone else's looked - and I'm told absolutely was - I didn't regret my pick.

I should note staff were great, attentive and friendly without invading our privacy, the perfect balance.

As our plates were cleared away, we foolishly believed we had room for pudding. When will we ever learn?

Dad went straight for his favourite, sticky toffee pudding and my son chose the crowd-pleaser of toffee apple crumble, with custard. My other half went for jam roly poly and it was high on my list but finally I committed to dark chocolate torte, which came with salted caramel and peanut butter brittle (swiftly pinched by the youngest in the group).

I was defeated however. The torte was incredibly rich, in the best way but I couldn't finish it. Despite everyone also having a forkful or two, a tiny piece remained. I'm not one for leaving food but I was beyond full.

The Celtic Arms do what they do very well and despite being a very beautiful, sophisticated space to be in, doesn't feel at all pretentious. It has that great ability of being the sort of place you can wear jeans to or something special, with both feeling they fit right in.

As the summer approaches and we're hopeful of another hot one, the place also offers up a fantastic outside space for diners.

A trip to The Celtic Arms always goes down well, and made a good impression on my partner for his first visit, so it's fair to say, it won't be our last.

How it fares:

The Celtic Arms, Northop Country Park, Northop Tel: 01352 840423

  • Food - 9/10
  • Ambience - 8/10
  • Service - 9/10
  • Disabled access - yes
  • Children welcome - yes