When you come across a pub as gorgeous as the Bells, you know you’re onto a sweet sweet thing.

Sitting pretty beside St Oswald’s Church, this impossibly cosy joint says fairytale hideout on the outside – gnarled branches, crooked roof, smoking chimneys – yet countryside chic on the inside. Think smart wooden floors, open fireplaces, large patchwork cushions and crisp white tablecloths with beer-supping locals clustered around the bar and couples cosying up in nooks.

Its ace card though is the huge garden – from the easy-on-the-eye weeping trees to the outdoor BBQ, it’s a lovely looking suntrap. In the thick of summer, punters settle onto the benches getting piddly over a liquid lunch, yet on my visit it was drizzly and grey (booo). So after a sneaky peek inside the church, we pulled up a pew in the main dining room.

 

And now to the food! Oh the food (she says, salivating). It’s not super formal dining but it’s far from your bog standard pub grub with dapper service to match. And although kids are welcome, my advice is to leave your mini mes at home – this place dishes up a fabulous menu that’s best enjoyed slowly, not hurriedly before baba wakes up and screams the place down.

You’ll find all the classics (fish and chips, burger, pie of the day), plus a clutch of more imaginative dishes. My starter of pan-fried salt and pepper prawns was knockout – all salty and crunchy with a super fresh Thai salad. A went mad for the black pudding scotch egg – it might not be reinventing the wheel but sometimes you can’t go wrong with the tried and tested.

Mains were, as expected, tip-top. My lamb loin with edamame and leeks came with some cracking sweet potato gnocchi, while A’s seabass with samphire, clams and crayfish was, in his words: ‘faultless’. Need I go on?

I still felt peckish (and piggish) when the dessert menu appeared despite the not-so-stingey portions. With one hand wielding a spoon, the other releasing my jean’s top button, I woofed down a yummy sticky toffee pudding.

And just as we were setting off on our merry way, the sun came out – did someone say afternoonies in the garden?

££: £6.25-£8.95 for starters, £14.95-£24.95 for mains – it’s not one for sneaky shoestring foodies, yet it won’t have you mouthing the word ‘overdraft’ either.

More info: The Cobbles, Lower Peover, Knutsford, WA16 9PZ. Tel: 01565722269.