We were invited over to The Paper Mills for something to eat as we’d never been before. It’s just a 10-15 minute drive from Peterborough centre located on London Road in Wansford set on the main street through the village.

On entry you’re faced with a wonderful stained glass window which shares the history of the building; from the local stories it used to be the Paper Mill’s office.
It’s certainly a step back in time with low ceilings, wooden beams, comfortable country chairs, window seats, muted colours and low lighting. You can eat anywhere in the bar or restaurant with around 23 tables in total. At the far end you’ll find a modern feel conservatory area which is great for groups of 10 or more as it gives a partial private area. This merges well with the old feel of the bar.

We arrived at 6.30pm and parked immediately in front of the pub. There’s ample of seating to choose from with 9 tables in the bar at the front with a real wood open fire and 14 tables in the rest of the pub including the conservatory. They also have a garden, however, that was closed due to the winter months, but would open once the weather bettered itself.

We were greeted by a waitress who checked our booking and then offered us a table in the main restaurant area on the other side of the bar and took our orders for drinks, which arrived almost immediately. Time to now look at the menu. It’s great as the pub is partitioned with little open nooks which feel quite private from the rest of the areas so actually feel quite personal. Different old style lamps light the areas enhancing and continuing the warm, comfortable feel you get when you first come in. It must be all the natural surroundings of wooden floors, brickwork and wooden beams. A definite cottage home feel.
The menu is small and manageable with 8 starters and 12 main dishes. It encompasses everything from fish, chicken, meat & steak along with a couple of vegetarian and vegan alternatives. The Restaurant Manager, Ruth, introduced herself and told us a bit of the history of the place, the Chef, and suggestions for the menu – and she really did know the menu inside out and gave us a range of suggestions telling us that we wouldn’t be disappointed.

We opted for the Chicken Tortilla Tacos (£8.50) as a starter. This came as two filled tortillas with a crispy chicken fillet in each taco that were non-greasy accompanied by a spicy sauce and salad filling. “Ample for a starter and a spicy little dish“. I was saving myself for dessert.. so moving on…

We’d already ordered the Chef’s Homemade Curry (£15.50). Ruth had suggested King Prawns but my husband really likes chicken so continued his theme. Also, as he didn’t like spicy he asked about the heat and whether it was very strong. Ruth kindly brought out a taster of the sauce from the curry just to ensure it was to his liking as everyone has a different palate and heat tolerance, she advised that to her it was normal and mild, but she normally likes a hotter one. My husband is at the lower end of the heat scale.. he tasted it and could taste the kick which wasn’t over powerful so went with it. I ordered the Hand Crimped Steak & Guinness Pie (£16.50) being told this was one of the favourites on the menu and has limited availability.

The mains arrived promptly and looked a delicious full plate of food as you can see. No half portions at all. The curry was served up in a metal bowl alongside steamed rice, a naan bread, a poppadum and chutney. Verdict: “Not over spicy, a creamy texture and with tender chicken – I’d definitely have it again!” My choice was the Pie and what a full plate that was.. the pie was a large full pastry pie, not just a lid. It was deeply filled with large chunks of steak in plenty of sauce along with herbed roasted new potatoes, sauteed veg (broccoli, mangetout, carrots and parsnip) and a gravy boat of gravy on the side. Everything was perfect what can I say? “The pie had succulent chunks of steak and the sauce was lovely – I couldn’t tell it was Guinness, but then I’ve never drunk any, it was simply a tasty, thick sauce that really did the meat justice. You won’t go hungry after this.

So far, so good. The restaurant and pub have a nice atmosphere. The fire was lit and you were not short of being warm as it crept through every area. It wasn’t quiet but it wasn’t noisy, it’s an all-round pleasant feel where you can chat and eat with friends or even have a romantic dinner for two without feeling looked at.
Voila here was my dessert. I’m normally a chocolate fiend, but I wanted to venture outside my ‘usual’ box and try something a bit daring and asked for the Gluten Free Mocha Cake (£6.50). I’m so daring, aren’t I! It intrigued me as it was noted at being gluten-free and I wanted to see how it would be with my sweet tooth and I wasn’t disappointed. It comes warm and served with a rich toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream on the side. How can I describe it? “Warming, filling, not too sweet – a lovely hot & cold treat to end your meal.

At the end of every course, the waitress checked back to make sure that everything was okay with what we had ordered and to make sure we were okay for drinks. Ruth came back to also ensure that we were happy. She advised that they are a small team, but a team that really does care about its customers. (and it shows they do as they are attentive without being overpowering) She introduced us to the creator of all these delights that we’d just eaten. The Paper Mills’ Chef, Romanian born Marcel Acostoaie.

Marcel has been with them for 4 years now. His experience has been gained from years travelling the globe on cruises with Caribbean Cruise Lines serving up distinguished foods to thousands of guests as well as around the UK. He incorporates what is seasonal and appealing to their customers, creating little wastage of food and is currently working on the new spring/ summer menu as well as a possibly afternoon tea… watch their social or website for news.

After eating we did venture near the fire to finish our drinks and chat with some friends we’d seen. The atmosphere was relaxed whether you were eating or just drinking. There is a prominent bar area where you can meet, drink and chat but you are welcome to sit anywhere really, which was noted when we came in.

Would I go again? Absolutely yes. It is not somewhere I’d want to come every week as it would spoil the nicety of it, but we will definitely be adding this to our list of good places to go for a treat and will be taking some friends the next time they come to visit. I’d also like to go back when the weather picks up to see what new menu items there will be when I can sit out and eat al fresco in the garden. And I shall be keeping an eye out for that mention of little cakes to come….

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