21 August 2014

Restaurants & Bars

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Focus on... bars and pubs in Lancashire


lancashire 2013 istock - iStock_000000426811Small.jpgLancashire’s gentle, rolling landscape is dotted with great pubs – some take a bit of finding, but are all the better for that. You’re spoilt for choice, whether you’re heading for the Trough of Bowland, the Lune Valley or the coast; discover stunning villages, fabulous walks and fine ales from the county’s independent breweries such as Arkwright’s, Moorhouse’s, Thwaites and Worsthorne.

There’s also been a wake-up call in Lancashire’s pub kitchens. Gone are the days of stale pies and curling cheese sandwiches; instead, expect delicious dishes made in-house from top-quality local ingredients – Lancashire’s artisan producers are fast becoming food heroes.

Assheton Arms, Downham

Downham is such a pretty village, it’s no wonder it is used regularly as a film and TV location. At its heart is the recently renovated Assheton Arms – a warren of cosy rooms with wood-burning stoves and flagged floors. Landlord Chris Neve used to be a trawlerman, so the menu is fish-centric – ingenious ‘small plates’ bring cockles, haddock goujons and salt cod fishcakes.

Bay Horse, Forton

A stone’s throw from the throbbing M6, Craig Wilkinson’s handsome old pub is a haven of peace and joy, full of mismatched furniture and charm, good beer and inviting food. Expect pub grub, but a notch or two above the norm – think home-cured salmon, local black pudding, Goosnargh chicken and duck. Craig’s herb garden out back provides all the leaves.

Cartford Inn, Little Eccleston

Only 10 miles from the bling of Blackpool, this handsome inn has been given star treatment by Julie and Patrick Baume. It’s all open fires, polished floors and calm, with Julie’s quirky design features everywhere. A no-nonsense menu features the best of local produce including Goosnargh duck, Fleetwood fish and Pilling Marsh lamb.

The Castle Inn, Hornby

You may not expect any surprises when you walk into this fine-looking 17th-century inn in medieval Hornby, but owner Jane Ledsham is an antique dealer and she’s had a field day. Old travel trunks, battered oak tables, deco leather club chairs abound. There’s Bowland Brewery beer on tap and an unaccountably Italian twist to the menu.

lancashire 2013 istock - iStock_000004265635Small.jpgFreemasons, Wiswell

It’s worth getting lost trying to find this smartly whitewashed pub in medieval Wiswell, because it still feels like a well-loved local – despite a comprehensive re-vamp that has kept all the good bits. By contrast, the food is thoroughly modern and owner/chef Steve Smith impresses with the likes of poached and roasted foie gras, cod loin with cockle ketchup or pistachio soufflé.

The Millstone Hotel, Mellor

Anson Bolton has been at the helm here for a decade and you can feel the love – the Millstone has all the qualities of a cosy local with the added bonus of great food and beer. Anson likes to keep it local, so expect the likes of black pudding fritters or shank of Pendle lamb, all washed down with a well-kept pint of Thwaites.

Red Pump Inn, Bashall Eaves

You’ll get a cracking welcome at this rambling, remote pub, reputedly one of the oldest in the Ribble Valley. Sit in the snug with the coal fire roaring on a chilly day and tuck into game terrine washed down with a splendid pint of cask beer – the licensees are rightfully proud of their CAMRA status.

Redwell Inn & Smokehouse, Arkholme

A fast-rising star in the world of Lancashire producers, chef/owner Rob Talbot has created a smokehouse in the grounds of his fine-looking pub overlooking the glorious Lune Valley, curing pretty much anything he can get his hands on. Much of it can be found on his menu, including smoked salmon poached in olive oil with apple and lemon.

Spread Eagle Hotel, Sawley

Perhaps the most atmospheric of co-owner Martin Clarkson’s mini-chain, this handsome old coaching inn sits gracefully on the bend of the river Ribble; inside, quirky decor, comfy oak settles, open fires set the tone for a hearty menu might that include roast shoulder of lamb, game stew and steamed puddings – good job there are stunning walks from the door.

Waddington Arms, Waddington

At the head of an impossibly pretty village, this stately stone-built pub is as welcoming and affable as can be. Inside, there are flagged floors, huge inglenooks and candles on oak tables, while the mean promises hearty, rustic grub at midweek prices – with back-up courtesy of superb beer from the Bowland Brewery on tap.

Find great restaurants in the Ribble Valley.

This feature was published in June 2013.

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