Hidden away in the picture-pretty Lancashire village of Wiswell, this atmospheric and stylishly reconfigured Lancashire hostelry now cuts quite a dash with its thoughtful blend of rich heritage colours, mismatched antique furniture and country prints, while young informed service and a bold, contemporary menu belie the traditional surroundings.
Local lad, and Chef Owner, Steven Smith is on top form at the moment, delivering a succession of high-end crossover dishes such as wild salmon, cooked so it’s just translucent in the centre, with ponzu, elderflower, potted shrimps, samphire and a sourdough pikelet or chicken studded with black garlic, wild mushrooms, yakitori livers on toast and sauce Albufera. Elsewhere, those with plainer tastes get admirable satisfaction from plates of simply grilled fish and slabs of 60-day aged Hereford beef with duck-fat chips, while desserts hit the heights with show-stopping soufflés and luscious creations such as dark chocolate with pineapple poached in Pedro Ximénez caramel, served with rum, raisin and peach sorbet. The food is matched by an impressively diverse wine list loaded with classy bottles at very reasonable prices. With its superb outdoor eating area, this place is also a shoo-in for special bashes.
As is nearly mandatory with all good countryside pubs, Freemasons at Wiswell serves up a special Sunday lunch menu. Choose between the standard or the simple family option, depending on party-preference. The former is £50 for three courses and includes dishes like lobster gratin, followed by 100 day aged beef carved table-side, while the latter (£35 for three courses) ticks off all the family favourites with things like a soup starter and a lamb roast to follow, with peas and mint sauce, accompanied by a choice of veg sides like cauliflower cheese and duck fat spuds.
If looking to spend more than an evening here, the pub does have four rooms, decked out in luxurious soft furnishings that make the most of traditional materials while retaining a modern edge.