Restaurant review: Hammer & Pincers

By Rachel Quine

‘We have a new butcher,’ said the email newsletter from Hammer and Pincers. ‘Harker’s Farm Shop of Clipston on the Wolds rear their own cattle and supply the best beef we’ve ever tried. So we’ve decided to focus on offering more steaks.’

I made a reservation.

Sweethearts Danny and Sandra Jimminson trained at the Savoy under Anton Edelmann and settled in Wymeswold close to where Danny grew up. Their stylish restaurant was once home to the local blacksmith. An ancient hammer and pincers still hangs on the wall above waitresses offering quietly attentive, professional service. Every aspect of the restaurant shows attention to detail, from smart glass water jugs to a confident menu.

Dinner à deux began with homemade red onion focaccia with moist and moreish walnut and raisin bread. Velvety parsnip soup felt more like amuse-bouche than a complete first course, but twice-baked Colston Bassett Stilton Soufflé was light and savoury, apple compote cleverly foiling its richness.

No prizes for guessing my partner’s main course but with a range of cuts, weights and sauces, there are sixty different steak options. A medium sirloin, well-seasoned, chargrilled and rested was sublimely succulent, full of flavour and surprisingly soft. Steak this good needs no adornment so fat triple-cooked chips (fluffy within and darkly crisp outside) were dunked into perfectly piquant béarnaise sauce. Next time we will try the variation flavoured with tomato purée, named after its creator, Alexandre Étienne Choron.

With a nod to the Big Fish Fight campaign, I chose sea bream – juicy and flaky with crisp skin, served on shredded savoy cabbage with garlic cream. Meaty morsels of freshwater crayfish, tomato concasse and diced new potato added colourful flashes.

The new steak menu is brave and inspired. And if someone you love deserves the best steak and chips in the region, the Hammer and Pincers have it nailed.

Hammer & Pincers

CUISINE: Grill, European, local, seasonal
PRICE PER HEAD: £35-£40 (for three courses and drinks)
KIDS WELCOME: Yes
DOGS: Yes, in the bar
CUSTOMER CAR PARKING: Large car park
TIMES: Monday to Saturday: 12pm-2pm and 6pm-9.30pm; Sunday: 12pm-6pm.

MENU SAMPLES

Starters
Mushroom & tarragon mascarpone risotto with parmesan crackling, £5
King prawns & queen scallops, pan-roasted with garlic & lemon, £9

MAINS
Pan-roast sea bream fillet, garlic cream & freshwater crayfish, £16
Sirloin steak garni with béarnaise sauce and triple cooked chips, £22

DESSERTS
Chocolate fondant, pistachio ice cream & cherry compote, £6
Rhubarb & Custard Meringue, £6

Matt Wright
The author:

Matt lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and dog. He is passionate about British pubs, slow food and home brewing. He founded Great Food Club (originally as Great Food Magazine) in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town of Melton Mowbray - Britain's 'Rural Capital of Food'.