The Railway Inn, Sandford: Review

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The Railway Inn, Sandford - Exterior


Would you believe The Railway Inn’s been at the heart of Sandford Village, just outside Bristol, for a massive 140 years? You wouldn’t think it to look at the building – while a small part of the pub is still housed in the original building, it’s been extended over the years to create a sizeable, yet warm and welcoming, environment in which to enjoy something to eat or drink.

The Railway Inn is owned by Thatchers Cider, and can be found on the farm’s premises – we visited as part of a recent bloggers’ tour where we learned how their cider is made, and tasted some of their varied range. It’s a range that you’ll find in full behind the bar at the Inn, along with their apple gin and apple wine, and plenty of beers and wines from which to choose, too.

We were sat at a long table in the conservatory-style oak-framed dining room: a family-friendly place to eat, with highchairs and a separate children’s menu for the little ones. And talking of the menus, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that plenty of the dishes incorporate Thatchers’ ciders, which are featured in ketchups, sauces, glazes, chutneys and more.

The menus could be best described as “posh pub grub” (you’ll find sample menus on their website), with veggie, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free dishes clearly labelled. There’s starters, sharing platters, grills, salads and regular mains all on offer – with traditional dishes like fish and chips and steaks, as well as more exotic choices like masala spiced monkfish and tiger prawns.

I rarely eat duck – it’s generally a treat for when I’m out – so I started with The Railway Inn’s smoked duck breast with crispy confit duck leg and pickled pear (£7). It was a work of art: strips of rich breast meat, still slightly pink and with the meltingly tender fat still attached; crisp-shelled confit duck leg bonbons with delicate spicing; and pear served two ways: tangy, soft slices of pickled fruit, and a super smooth and sweet purée. Couldn’t fault it.


The Railway Inn, Sandford - Duck Starter


Sometimes you just want an old favourite…and the gammon, egg and chips (£12.50) fitted the bill perfectly. It’s not just any old gammon, egg and chips, though: the gammon’s glazed with cider and honey, the egg’s a duck egg, the chips are triple cooked and there’s a pineapple chutney on the side, instead of the tinned pineapple rings that you’ll find in most pubs.

The gammon was beautiful, sweet and smokey and a good, thick slab. The egg yolk was still runny – perfect for dipping the chips which, although crispy, had a touch of “old oil” flavour to them. The pineapple chutney was a nice touch, too, with more flavour to it than the traditional accompaniment.


The Railway Inn, Sandford - Gammon


If you want extra sides, I definitely recommend the Thatchers cider mac and cheese (£3) – just look at that cheesy golden crust on the top…!


The Railway Inn, Sandford - Thatchers Cider Mac & Cheese


Annoyingly, I had a serious case of dessert envy when it got to the end of the meal. Tiramisu is probably my favourite dessert in the world, so when I saw Thatchers’ chocolate and pear version (£6.50) on the menu, I couldn’t not order it…

Again, an attractive dish, with plenty of rich and silky sweetened cream, coffee-soaked crumbled sponge, cooked pear (which made the whole thing healthy, right?) and crushed hazelnuts for a bit of texture on top. The ganache-style chocolate on top of the pear half, though, tasted a bit stale, and I wondered if they’d been pre-coated and stored for a while before serving…

(If you go, order the sticky toffee apple pudding – it was a popular choice on our table and it was FANTASTIC.)


The Railway Inn, Sandford - Chocolate & Pear Tiramisu


I’d definitely go back to The Railway Inn. The prices are reasonable, the menu is recognisable as pub food but with some lovely twists, there’s plenty of cider to choose from, and there’s a real focus on using local suppliers where possible. The Sunday lunch menu looks lovely, and I’m definitely up for a return visit in the summer months, when the outdoor pizza oven and BBQ are fired up too. From the city centre, it’s about a half hour drive – and would be perfect combined with a tour of Thatcher Cider or any of a number of local walks. We’ll be back…


Please note: our meal at The Railway Inn was received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.


One Response to The Railway Inn, Sandford: Review

  1. Pingback: A trip to Thatchers Cider, Sandford - Bristol Bites | Bristol Bites

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