Armed with the musings of the ‘Twitterati’ the flame and I set off North towards the beautiful Trough of Bowland. The idea was to take advantage of the Autumn sunshine, heft our way over the fells, run down the ‘The Hodder’ and grab a spot of lunch at the Parkers Arms in Newton In Bowland.
A trio of characters, Stosie, Kathy and AJ, have revamped this rural edifice. The combination is steeped to the gills in the art of converting great local produce into wonderful home cooked food in a warm, friendly atmosphere. If you get too taken in by the real ales and great wines on board you can hole yourself up in a room upstairs for a modest fee. When we turned up The Sunday Times had just listed it the sixth best budget place to stay. Pride and excitement positively gushed from AJ, our charismatic and genial host.
The place is surrounded by great undulations of greenery and the Parkers Arms made a fine and welcome sight as we slew down the hill from nearby Clitheroe. Inside the stone floors of old prevailed alongside the ‘antiquely’ furniture and fireside settings. Indeed I can imagine on a cold winters eve a roaring fire from one of the hearths would be a handsome sight. It is rustic with a capital ‘R’, though touched with elegance and charm.
Given the food here is cooked (and not brought in a bag from the distributors!) the menu is sparse in volume, but high on quality. You don’t get Chinese, Mexican, Indian and Italian all on the same menu here. Traditional British pub food is the order of the day and so it was no surprise that I chipped in with the Sunday roast beef. A cut from Burholme Farm in the nearby village of Whitewell no less. Fleetwood (the nearest coast) kindly donated some roasted haddock if you fancied something from the sea.
To start, before the real starters. the flame and I tucked into some crunchy, salted potato skins and some soft cheesy puffs. Utterly delightful. For the real start I had a cheese scone made with three Lancashire cheeses no less. It was beautifully soft and mopped up the dressed salad like a favourite sponge. The flame went for the roasted tomato soup. I believe some sort of witchcraft had been involved in the making of this brew. How else could so much flavour be extracted from the humble tomato? It was so good that I was only allowed one spoonful to cast my opinion. It was thick, creamy and had a wonderful kick at the end. The flame went 1-0 up.
As stated earlier I had the roast beef, having ruefully spurned the offer of the rabbit and mustard pie that had just come out of the oven and been added to the specials! Nonetheless my roast was superb, cooked medium rare as chef Stosie dictated. You had to have special permission to have it well done! The flame opted for a lemon and garlic infused chargrilled chicken with roasted sweet potato and salad.
Sufficiently satiated at this point we debated over the dessert menu. We asked our fresh faced young waitress what the ‘Wet Nellie’ was? The uttered narrative prescribed it to be a ‘sort of biscuit base with Christmas pudding, dried fruits, nuts, mincemeat and sticky toffee pudding all rolled into one’. The winter version being hot with custard, the summer version room temperature with Chantilly cream. I am prone towards a sweet tooth, trifle being my top ticket, but ye Gods this sounded too good to be true. Boy oh boy this was a top sweet, oozing with moist fruits, spice and kick all at once. If you come to the Parkers Arms for nothing else, get down to taste Kathy’s Wet Nellie.
We then took coffee on the lawn outside overlooking the wonderful countryside. It was all rather agreeable. £50 for two on a Sunday, not bad really. It all took around two and quarter hours which was a bit too long and meant we didn’t quite get as far down the nearby River Hodder as we would have liked, but hey, let’s not quibble, if you want to escape from the old metrop, be welcomed into a time gone by with a cuddly smile and enjoy wonderful, home cooked food, the Parkers Arms is definitely one for your list.