The Pheasant Inn – Tattenhall, Cheshire

“A thoroughly pleasant afternoon overlooking the fine plains of Cheshire with great food and fine ale”

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Christmas is almost upon us. The Cooktwit is using up some leave and so what to do? Easy, it’s an hours scoot to some fine eatery somewhere. And so it came to pass, the steed was set to Tattenhall in Cheshire. Rumours abound that there’s a decent place called The Pheasant Inn. It took a blinking hour to get there, via some fairly tortuous ‘roadage’, but what a fine country pile it is. It’s a combination of ‘olde worlde’ charm that’s had a graft of new plumage to brighten it up and add significant yardage to its covers and accommodation credentials. It’s all rather smart.

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We entered to a roaring fire and positioned ourselves in a large bay window overlooking the plains. It was rather murky for us, but one can easily imagine how ‘breathtook’ one would be on a crisp, clear summers day. The place was even more homely than usual as it was festooned with all things Christmas. Pheasant and countrified baubles litter the main rooms. A homely bar lines up a plethora of fine local ales. A Cheshire Gold (what else?) is brought forth.

pheasant

 

The Flame and I selected from the large, high quality A3 card. Alania, our striking, well-spoken waitress took our order at the table. Two cracking starters get things going. The Flame, partial to smoked salmon went for the Loch Duart smoked salmon, traditional garnish, caviar and granary bloomer (£7.00). It arrives as a thin, square sheet with a deconstructed egg and a splash of caviar. It looked and tasted stunning.

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I went for the Butternut squash risotto, toasted pumpkin seeds, goat’s curd and curry oil (v) (£7.00). It came piping hot, full of flavour and crunch with a hint of spice. A truly scrumptious start.

For mains we went for the Fillet of hake, ox cheek ragu, green kale, horseradish mash and parmesan crisp (£13.95), though The Flame (rather foolishly in my opinion) ditched the mash and had chips instead. She found it a little strange with the ox cheek ragout and could have done with some greens. The fish though, superb.

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I went Pheasant breast, smoked streaky bacon, butternut squash gratin, with chestnut, blackberry jam and sage fritters (£14.50). Beautifully presented with a jug of meaty sauce. The pheasant maybe a ‘tadge’ dry for my liking but still very good. I topped it with a portion of truffle and parmesan chips (£3.95). These were ‘historic’. Getting pretty close to the best chip ever awards.

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Whenever trifle is on the menu that is what I have. No different here. A Poire William and tangerine trifle, chocolate ganache, vanilla mascarpone and violet ice cream (£5.95). Simply tremendous a fine end to thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

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By the time we left the winter darkness was homing in. It wasn’t long before we were wending our way through darkened country lanes. The Pheasant Inn is another to add to the repertoire. I imagine we will be back in the summer.

The Pheasant Inn
Higher Burwardsley,
Tattenhall,
Cheshire,
CH3 9PF.

T 01829 770434

http://www.thepheasantinn.co.uk

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The Marble Arch Inn – Manchester

“There’s no finer way to prepare for a footie match, great beer and great food….sorted”

For my sins I am a lifelong Man Utd fan. So you can imagine the laughter and short thrift I gave an equally fervent Man City fan who with a spare ticket in hand invited me to a home match against Swansea. “No thanks matey” I japed. “If you change your mind I’ll be in The Marble Arch at 1pm for a few pints and some lunch” he retorted.

 

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A painting of the bar, elegance, PINT!

Whoa there, you never mentioned that! Twelve thirty next day I’m shuffling out of town from Victoria station towards the pillar of Victorian elegance that is The Marble Arch. It’s set by a swanky new set of flats in an area that, like lots of Manchester is destined for a bit of TLC. It’s not that inviting at the moment but once inside, it instantly feels like home.

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The beers

It’s a long narrow room; the original wooden bar is set out at the bottom, deep in the valley of this great institution. You can practically slide to the bar, such is the steady angle that slopes away from the door. The place is loaded with its original fittings. Most pubs would kill for the features that have been retained here. Majestic mosaic floor tiles, beautiful golden ceiling and wall tiles. It all fits remarkably well.

The place was filling up. I managed to purloin a small table for two. I noticed many of the savvy punters had already reserved most of the tables. Cutlery wrapped in linen and leather bound menus marking their territory.

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Ceiling and floor

The Marble Arch doubles up as the home for The Marble Brewery. So as an added bonus you get loads of great beers too. I am quite partial to their bizarrely titled ‘Pint’ which is their 3.9% session ale. Sadly it was having a day off when I was there. A rather rotund and friendly local suggested the ‘Lagonda IPA’ as a worthy replacement. Boy he was right.

 

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And then the food. The Marble peddles a wonderful menu of British favourites along with an extensive cheese menu. It reminds me of the chop houses in town. My City chum Chris plumbed for the corned beef hash with homemade brown sauce (£12.95). It actually came with a poached egg and a crisp slice of smoky bacon too. He wolfed it in minutes and pronounced it an unctuous delight.

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Lancashire lamb hot pot and corned beef hash

I went for the Lancashire lamb hotpot with pickled cabbage and parsnip mash (£13.95). A cracking portion of creamy, peppery goodness. Once through the crispy top I mopped up the liquor with the parsnip mash. Oh my lord what a splendid lunch, and all washed down with the creamy, hoppy Lagonda.

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Sadly we then had to go to the match in the pouring rain. City scraped a deflected win, Utd lost to Bournemouth!

The Marble Arch has long been a secret, enjoyed mainly by beer drinkers in the know, but with food like this, it’s a worthy addition to your list to try. If you are visiting Manchester put this on your tour….along with Old Trafford.

The Marble Arch Inn
73 Rochdale Road
Manchester
M4 4HY
T 0161 8325914

http://www.marblebeers.com/contact-us/

The Bay Horse Inn – Ellel, Lancaster

“Another superb Sunday Lunch in Lancashire….marred slightly by the wait”

As part of my tour of the rich gastronomic seam that is North Lancashire I ventured to another top tip ‘The Bay Horse Inn’, just outside the historic city of Lancaster. Its plonked right by the M6 so its easy to get to, but first we wound our way coastwards for a couple of miles for a pre-binge stroll round the rather wonderful Glasson Dock. Here we brewed and stocked up on goodies from the ‘Port of Lancaster Smokehouse’, a fine emporium. Kippers, shrimps and smoked, line caught haddock.

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Glasson Dock

It was a fine November morn making the stroll an altogether wonderful thing. We were in fine fettle as we entered the fine looking country pile that is The Bay Horse.

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A fine country pile

 

They operate a 12 – 3pm shift on Sundays. We entered at peak time, just shy of 2pm. A rather harassed set of uniformed youngsters were manning the ship. The comfortably appointed snug was rammed. We hung round the bijou bar for a few minutes. Eventually we uttered our reservation credentials and we were wisked into the dining area. A drinks order was hastily scribbled. Sadly, after one or two prompts, it was a further twenty minutes before they arrived. It was twenty five minutes before we could attract enough attention to order from the simple ‘Sunday menu’. It’s a set price affair. £23.50 for three courses, £19.50 for two.

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Goats cheese salad, cauliflower & cheese soup, the sunday menu

I don’t normally go for soup, but this one sounded so intriguing I had to have a go. The cauliflower and Lancashire cheese soup with almonds was indeed good, but not great. My fault for going with soup really. Good texture, nice and thick. The flame was much more pleased with her salad of Kidderton Ash goats cheese, beetroot, toasted pine nuts and red wine dressing. It looked great and the goats cheese was very different. Discs of hard, salty goodness, very unusual, but as I say The flame well pleased.

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Hake and creamy leeks

Mains was a different story. I went for the star of the menu a traditional Lancashire beef Sunday roast. Boy oh boy, this was excellent. Several pink slices of perfectly cooked sirloin. Steeped in flavour, set off beautifully with the meat juices and a medley of well cooked veg, roasties, Yorkshire pud and mash. Superb. Pity the photos failed, only got one.

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The superb sunday roast

The flame went for a substantial chunk of pan fried hake, set on creamy truffled leeks, mussels and crushed potatoes. I managed a fork full. Translucent, flakes of fish set off with crispy skin. Another perfect dish. By now the service was catching up, and combined with the wonderful sunny view over the gardens this was becoming a most enjoyable interlude.

We both went for desserts. The Flame took the honours, an incredibly moist orange and almond sponge with vanilla cream. This was top draw. I went for the bread and butter pudding. Tasted great, could have done with a bit more crunch on top, but wonderfully sloppy and ‘vanillary’.

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Moist orange sponge, bread and butter pudding

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Like The Freemasons and others where I have only done a Sunday lunch, The Bay Horse Inn is another to try when the full menu is on show. Being an hour away it’s going to be hard, but I reckon it will be worth it. Lancashire sure has plenty to go at. There are so many great places using local produce and with head chefs like Craig here, they are doing the produce full justice and cooking it superbly.

The Bay Horse Inn
Horse Lane
Bay Horse
Ellel
Lancaster
LA2 0HR

Tel: 01524 791204
http://www.bayhorseinn.com