Cleveland Tontine, Staddlebridge
Weird, crazy, idiosyncratic was the verdict when the McCoy brothers opened here in 1979. Sale room furniture, mismatched crockery, mirrors and potted palms – we thought it all so recherché and Bohemian then. Not that there was anything shabby about the chic food with an unbroken run in the Good Food Guide. Then they moved and the Tontine was taken over by Charles Tompkins, who redecorated top to bottom gave it a fresh new look but without ditching the youthful excess of fond memory.
Then in 2016 it was all change once more. Provenance Inns, the people behind the Carpenters Arms, the Black Bull at Moulton, the Punch Bowl and six others, bought the Tontine. The menu is in line with other Provenance Inns: reasonably priced, broad based, designed to appeal to many. Think slow braised shoulder of lamb, pea ravioli, halibut with brown shrimps.
It’s a good choice for afternoon tea and the lovely downstairs dining room remains unchanged: dark, moody and candlelit, a fire in the massive, grade II listed fireplace, the plasterwork ceiling, the crisp linen. We need to revisit under the new ownership but based on the track record of Provenance Inns we reckon the Tontine is in safe hands.