The Pavilion at Branston, Staffordshire Restaurant Review

Penny Oldham took her family for Sunday brunch – and baby came too

I think it must be a sign of advancing years when family gatherings, however low-key, beat a posh do hands down – especially when one of them is so cute. Luckily for Branston Golf and Country Club, others seem to feel the same. Buffet-style Sunday brunch at the Pavilion at Branston offers the perfect solution for mixed age-group dining; the young are sometimes conservative in their food choices and also get restless quickly, but a groaning table of tempting fare for all tastes ensures that even the pickiest member of the family will find something delicious. On this drizzly Sunday in February there were plenty of families enjoying eating together – the ultimate bonding ritual!

THE CLUBFirst a word about the Club – and a club it is. As well as the beautifully manicured golf course, Branston offers an award-winning gym, pool, spa and bar. The restaurant is also a club amenity, but on Sundays opens its doors to non-members, who are very welcome to eat there.

The Pavilion itself is a low, modern building with ample parking. There’s a large, airy, conservatory-style dining room and a separate bar for pre-lunch drinks. Groups of varying size were enjoying lunch: birthday celebrations sporting exclamation mark balloons, extended families catching up, quiet groups of friends chatting and a good sprinkling of, on this occasion at least, well-behaved children. A pianist was tinkling away in the background, providing a cruise-ship/grand hotel vibe.

Our party, my daughter, son-in-law, their 10-month-old son Oliver and I, was shown to our table overlooking the golf course and, once Oliver was installed in his high chair, introduced to the Pavilion offer.

THE FOOD                                                                                      The format was pretty simple, just what you want when dealing with an  assortment of diners. For starters there was a central multi-tiered table bisecting the room bearing a beautifully presented selection of cold meats, including some succulent-looking roast beef (which I had to forego as I was saving myself for the main course), Coronation Chicken, salmon, both smoked and fresh, prawns, mackerel, egg mayonnaise, and a huge range of salads. Soup of the day was the delightful combination of spring pea and spinach. The phrase ‘something for everyone’ seemed a bit inadequate. We tried to dip abstemiously into this course to make sure we left room for the next, but all returned from the table with piled plates. Oliver happily ate whatever was handed to him, a good opportunity to find out his preferences.

Sunday always means a roast to me and the Pavilion doesn’t disappoint. Although that day’s alternatives – lemon sole with b�chamel sauce, aubergine and chickpea ragout with cheese cobbler – would have tempted me on a Tuesday, the glistening joints of English sirloin roasted on the bone, and the ‘guest roast’, the renowned Packington pork, served with a dish of crackling, not to mention the moist yet crisp roast potatoes, meant there was only one choice to be made.

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The beef had remained pink and juicy while the pork melted in the mouth. The vegetables too, were a triumph, especially when catering for such a large number of simultaneous diners: not only the aforementioned roasties and new potatoes, but perfectly charred and melting roast veg, vibrant french beans spiked with bacon cubes, and cauliflower smothered with a creamy sauce. Golden spheres of stuffing, apple and horseradish sauces, and English mustard were provided and of course the sine qua non of roast beef dinners, light and puffy Yorkshires. A great cauldron of gravy was the finishing touch. We all agreed it was one of the best carvery-type meals we’d eaten. Meanwhile, Oliver had his own mini (although not that mini!) portion of sausage and mash to keep him happy and in his highchair. User-friendly waiting staff were on hand to remove the inevitable baby detritus, and to keep us topped up with drinks.

The meal had been very leisurely, so pudding was definitely on the cards in terms of tummy capacity. The Pavilion Sunday Brunch menu includes a hot pud, which this week was apple crumble and custard, a trio of desserts – raspberry and white chocolate torte, chocolate and peppermint truffle, and coconut cr�me brul�e – or, for the capacity-challenged,  local Needwood ice-cream. There was a good cheeseboard and fresh fruit too. We rounded off the meal with some beautifully hot coffee and noticed that we were almost the last ones remaining. Even the tiddler was relaxed at the Pavilion – a sure sign that the staff had got it just right.

Sunday brunch at this oasis of gastronomic contentment will set you  back �17.50, while children aged from three to 11 cost �10. But the best value of all was for our own little diner, who worked his way through the menu completely free.

Child-themed brunch events take place from time to time – we just missed one featuring Peppa Pig! Full details of Character Brunches can be found at

The Pavilion at Branston, Burton Road, Branston, Burton On Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 3DP. Tel: 01283 512211.

3 more family-friendly restaurants for Sunday lunch …

THE BLENHEIM INNMain Street, Etwall Tel: 01283 732254; blenheimhouseetwall.comThe young team behind the converted village inn in Etwall share a passion for real food, seasonal ingredients and the joy of dining. The Blenheim continues to offer an unpretentious menu of high quality rustic food, matched with a serious wine list and knowledgeable service. Open Mon-Sat lunch 12 noon-4pm, dinner 7-10pm; Sun lunch 12noon-6pm*Although not specifically child-friendly I must include the Blenheim after its staff was so kind to our flu-struck party on Christmas Day!

THE BULL’S HEAD84 High St, Repton Tel: 01283 704422; re-opened after extensive refurbishment, the new Bull’s Head offers delicious high quality fresh food on a menu that changes every day. There is an exciting wine list and the home-made lemonade is the perfect drink for the great outside terrace. The pub and dining rooms also provide excellent surroundings for private functions and meetings. Open daily 11.30am to midnight, meals served lunchtimes and evenings. Sunday roasts available until 9pm

CHARLES COTTON HOTELMarket Place, Hartington SK17 0AL Tel: 01298 84229; historic coaching inn situated in the beautiful village of Hartington in the heart of the Peak Park. Tea room and bar both serve food all day. Traditional roast lunches are served on Sundays from noon; brunches with live light music some Sundays. Bar offers a wide selection of real ales, a selection of single malt whiskies and some old brandies.17 en suite rooms, quiet sunny garden. Children and dogs welcome. Food served Mon-Fri 12noon-3pm & 6pm-8pm; Sat & Sun 12noon-4pm & 6pm- 8pm

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