Tag Archives: brisket

Bowland Brewery Beer Hall – Holmes Mill, Clitheroe

“If you like eating off the piston of a steam engine surrounded by beer this is the place for you!”

It’s a Friday and The Cooktwit has taken the day off work and has vowed to accrue some brownie points with The Flame on account of a forthcoming gentlemen’s trip to Portugal. I venture that a scoot to the Trough of Bowland is in order. We head north in wild anticipation. We slip gently through the lovely old town of Clitheroe, ‘hang on’ I proclaim, Im sure there’s an old mill being done up round here with a brewery attached! Lets stop briefly and check it out.

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We stumble upon a sign for The Bowland Brewery Beer Hall. A heavily scaffolded old pile called Holmes Mill is soon upon us. It’s a former textile mill thats being transformed into a hotel, leisure and food complex. We venture in. Much of the outside stonework is buffed and painted. Contemporary signage points the way. We venture past a shop selling Bowland bottled beers and a well stocked ‘Gelateria’, we then enter the ‘Beer Hall’. Its nothing short of breath taking.

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Inside, a huge oval bar, the size of a race track dominates, a platoon of uniformed bartenders gather us in. I didn’t count them but its claimed at least 24 cask ales are on tap. I looked on in awe. To the rear, via a huge glass wall, the huge Bowland Brewery beer tanks glisten. To the left more sections, the ‘chimney room’ and the ‘engine room’.

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The Engine room

In my excitement I suggest we hole up here for lunch. The Flame surprisingly agrees. We settle into ‘The Engine Room’. Not a quaint little moniker for a corner snug. This really is THE ENGINE ROOM. We settle on one of the high tables for two that are arranged around the huge mill engine that makes up the centre piece of the space. It, along with the room has been lovingly spruced up to replicate its Victorian industrial past. Huge comfy chairs are dotted round. Clearly someone has laid out some serious wedge here. Its a quality makeover. 

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So what about the food? Well, its basic stuff really, beer food. The menu is a huge A3 card, beers on the back, food to the front. Theres no jus, foams or micro herbs on here. Its chips or fries with pies, puds, nibbles, burgers and other British pub classics. They even have chicken in the basket (which I nearly had). We pressed on and ordered. I settled in with a Bowland Brewery ‘Buster’ IPA and a big smile on my face. We drunk in the wonderful ambience.

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Jerk Chicken, Brisket Burger, Scotch Egg

I started with a scotch egg, encased in black pudding (£5.95). It came warm on a tin plate and a slick of brown sauce with a watercress salad. No oozing yolk from the egg, but armed with the brown sauce it was all rather good. A totally satisfying start.

For mains I went from the ‘Buns’ section and had the pulled beef brisket with beerhouse gravy and horseradish (£10.95). Served in a tin again on a brioche bun the brisket was copious, hot and tasty, the tang of horseradish adding its usual bite. The fries, hot and salty, but enhanced to almost historic when dipped in the fabulous beerhouse gravy. It was again very good.

The Flame had Jamaican jerk spiced chicken pieces with salad, coleslaw and chips (£12.95). Several hunks of boneless chicken thigh meat drenched in a warm spicy goo. The Flame absolutely loved it (despite being served in a tin). The morsel I had was super moist and tasty.

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Sadly and somewhat bizarrely? They didn’t have a sweet menu. A nod one presumes to the fact that this is a beer hall after all. Sweets generally don’t go with beer in my experience. I suppose you could have had an ice cream from the ‘Gelateria’?

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We settled up for thirty-eight of your english pounds. We both thoroughly enjoyed our time here. It reminded me of eating at the National Rail Museum in York or on St Pancras station. The surroundings are truly spectacular. Trying to be objective, would we have enjoyed the food as much in a more mundane setting? Possibly not, but if you are looking for a little adventure and somewhere completely different to eat and drink I’d definitely give the Bowland Brewery Beer Hall a go. They deserve it, they’ve certainly put their money where their mouth is. And anyway, I nipped up to Booths after and got an eton mess slice. Who needs a sweet anyway?

Bowland Brewery Beer Hall
Holmes Mill
Greenacre Street,
Clitheroe
BB7 1EB
Tel: 01200 401035
http://www.holmesmill.co.uk

The Plough Inn – Croft (nr Warrington)

STOP PRESS- I think this has shut down now 23/10/17

“Sorry everyone but I’ve found another great place to eat”

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The Plough Inn at Croft, like many pubs of late has had its ups and downs. Many years ago I recall it being a fairly standard local pub. Frequented often by its local rural crowd, it did what many pubs of the time did; serve half decent ale and a decent pie and chips when called upon. As we know many pubs, particularly rural ones, have either gone to the wall or effectively become restaurants or ‘gastropubs’. I have already ventured to and regaled about many fine specimens throughout the North West. See list below!* This latest one has the distinct advantage of being walkable from my home town of Newton-le-Willows. It’s a good walk mind, about four and half miles, so it’s a summer stroll or a winters Sunday. But boy on this evidence it’s worth it and its going on the list.

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The Plough has succumbed on and off to periods of neglect, however it seems a hefty dose of love and affection has been awarded to its period frame. A splash of paint on the outside has freshened its gills, a lick inside has set its heart alight. It still needs a bit doing inside I fancy to fully compete with the esteemed list below, but without doubt the raw materials are all present and correct. Timber beams, an open fire, dark wooden fittings. It will do nicely.

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The sun was streaming through on this Sunday binge, the place almost empty. The Flame flitted between several tables before selecting a suitable spot. A Deuchars IPA, one of three real ales, soon had me purring. The comprehensive menu soon added to my contentment. In fact there were two menus. The standard Sunday offering and the Sunday lunch. I selected from the Sunday lunch at £17.95 for three courses.

The Flame started with what one would consider to be a fairly unadventurous choice. The soup of the day (£4.95). However, even it was presented with a good level of panache. Tomato and basil arrived on its own podium of timber and featured a decent swoosh of cream, herbs and breaded elements. It tasted good as well. I had the ‘Ham hock terrine’. This was as good as a starter as I’ve had in a long time. The terrine was housed in a tubular ‘kilner’ jar. The hock itself was coarse, meaty and splendidly choice in flavour. The accompaniments of homemade piccalilli, toasted bread, salad and various drops of dressing and shoots all added to the general appeal. Excellent stuff.

Soup & ham hock terrine
Soup & ham hock terrine

As it was a Sunday, my mains took on the familiar look of a traditional roast. Would have preferred a pink, topside but the slow cooked brisket went a good way towards making up the deficit. There was lots of it too. Combined with the standard, well-cooked accoutrements it was most agreeable. The Flame piped in with a chicken and leek pie (£9.95). Arriving in its own skillet on a board it looked a picture, particularly alongside its pot of crisp, hot, salted and skin on potato wedges. They alone were a triumph. The pie was chunked full of chicken, writhing in a rich sea of herby, leeky goodness. Good stuff.

Chicken & leek pie, Brisket roast
Chicken & leek pie, Brisket roast

As ever, for research purposes, I had to test out a dessert. And crikey, in trooped a memorable effort. Apple and granola crumble with custard. Arriving in its own earthenware pot, set on a slate it came with a riot of coulis, kumquats and a boat of hot, vanillary loveliness. Truly special.

Apple & granola crumble
Apple & granola crumble

By the time I was dousing the dessert down with the final slurp of IPA the place had filled up. It would seem you would have to book for a mid-afternoon slot on a Sunday. I wouldn’t hang about, when word gets around this could become a serious stopping point. Cheshire has another belter to go at.

*Parker Arms, Nags Head, Assheton Arms, Hearth of the Ram, The Old Sessions, The Church Green, The Three Fishes to name but a few!

The Plough Inn,
Heath Lane, Croft, Warrington, Cheshire WA3 7DS
01925 766001