When I was at Uni, I used to go to Noah’s Ark in Hartshill quite a lot. Located just up the road from Stoke town (not the city center of Stoke, which is actually called Hanley but another little town down the road from Hanley. Confusing, right?), in Hartshill; Noah’s Ark is a pub-like atmosphere with a large area for dining.
I’m not sure if it used to be part of a chain, but it appears that now it is more prominently a chain pub. Not like a Weatherspoons or anything though. It’s a chain pub which has kept an independent feel and has a touch of Stoke on Trent in each element of the decor. Even down to the Emma Bridgewater wallpaper and large historical map of Stoke on Trent on one of the walls.
The menu has evolved quite a lot from the one I used to see when we went regularly way-back-when. Now the menu is streamlined in to what I would describe as ‘pub classics with a twist’, alongside some Oktoberfest specials for October. Not only that, but they also now offer a range of gluten free menu options, which is a great niche to tap in to around here, as a gluten free menu is few and far between in Stoke on Trent eateries!
For starters we went for one of the specials from the Oktoberfest menu and one of the starters from the main menu. Garlic sausage presented on a bed of sauerkraut doesn’t look like the most delicious dish in the world, however, the flavours more than made up for the appearance, especially with the addition of apple chutney to compliment. The same chutney also came with my starter of black pudding and chorizo chipolatas. This isn’t something I would usually go for, but I fancied something meaty and these more than hit the spot!
Shortly after the starters were cleared away, the mains were served to our table. Considering it was a Saturday night it was surprising how swift the service was. It’s always great when a restaurant has enough staff on to cater for the needs of the diners. Not only that, but the staff were all so friendly and it felt like they’d been with the business for years somehow, which is always a nice touch to the experience.
The menu when we got there was slightly different to the menu we were given when we sat down, so I do apologise if some of the descriptions of our food isn’t quite right! We chose some pub classics to see how they would compare to the usual we have had before at other places. My main was a Chicken Supreme, which I chose to have with some chips. I chose the chips as I know from years ago that they were one of our favourites. I can confirm the chips are still top notch. It didn’t say on the menu, but they tasted like they had been triple cooked, with a really nice texture and flavour. The chicken supreme had a lovely, creamy peppercorn sauce and the chicken was flavoursome and delicious. I’m not sure what the additional flavour was that I could taste in the sauce but it added an all-round richness to the taste.
Belly Pork was the other main on our menu and it was perfectly succulent with a crisp finish on top. Both dishes we also served with buttery seasonal veg which made them an absolute delight for a chilly Autumn evening. To finish the meal it would have been rude not to have a warm chocolate fudge cake, with a big dollop of ice cream. From start to finish the entire meal was just want you needed to satisfy your belly when the cold nights set in.
As we were near the end of the meal, a local brass band took the evening to the next level with some German tunes to top off the Oktoberfest theme. Which turned out to be a slightly different, but fun way to polish off a good meal.