Tag Archives: bury

The Bird at Birtle – Heywood

“Nutters’ smart new eatery turns out some decent grub, but is it too loud?”

A rare day off, so it’s a drive out to lunch. The Flame and I decide on trying out Andrew Nutter’s recently re-opened gastropub The Bird at Birtle. It turns out Birtle is just to the right of Bury and a bit to the left of Rochdale. We plunder the dreaded M62 before settling nicely beside the wonderfully spruced up Bird. Nice plumage! The local stonework has been teased and sanded to a yellowish hue. Presumably, on account of the artistic masonry above the door it was once called ‘The Bird I’th Hand?”.

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We scuttle round the back to tie up the steed. Here we were greeted by a cathedral of glass! The old bird has had a big, square, contemporary block of architectural curtain walling grafted on the back. It’s a striking addition affording the diners inside a view of, well firstly the car park and then the wonderful green yonder.

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As it happened we had booked and we were warmly greeted and shown straight to our table upstairs via a huge bird mural. A touch of the Nutter humour me thinks! I reckon the place was half full. The tactic appears to be to secrete everyone, be it on the ground or first floor, in front of the aforementioned glass frontage. Our table indeed looked out to the rolling green hills, though not particularly well lit on this cloudy, drizzly day!

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We attempted to converse and select from the super lunchtime menu. Owing to the complete lack of soft furnishings coupled with the plethora of hard surfaces such as the glass, the tastefully stained panelling and black ash furniture we had difficulty hearing over the cacophony of clattering cutlery and people shouting at each other. A pint of Pride of Pendle calmed the shredded nerves!

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For starters The Flame selected the rather wonderful tomato and celeriac soup with rosemary focaccia (£5). Though she doesn’t go for the cream swirl it was in fact absolutely delicious. Noblets of pesto adding even more flavour. I went for the sticky slow cooked short rib beef and rochdale peas (£6.50). I rated this ‘historic’, one of the best starters I’ve had in a good while. The beef slipping effortlessly from its bone, the peas still having a bite set in a gorgeous ‘gravy’, describing it as a jus just wouldn’t do!

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For mains The Flame went for her (yawn!) standard fish pie (£13). In fairness, once again it was a good one. It looked good too, set in its own earthenware pot with a skillet of peas alongside on a wooden base board. As the skate special had just been sold, I went for the beer battered sole with mushy peas and hand cut chips (£12.50). Two delicately battered fillets set over each other, it looked super on the plate. The chips, so good they were close to Wiswell chefs and Hawksmoors!! such was the quality. A punchy homemade tartare sauce added extra points to the binge. All in all a corking lunch. Still the best was to come….

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Dessert! I went for the incredible blackberry, pear and almond frangipane tart with amaretto ice cream (£6.50) whilst The Flame went for Kirkhams Lancashire cheese, toffee apple puree and Eccles cakes, also £6.50. The frangipane came surrounded with dots of sweetness and oozed with glorious swabs of flavour and texture. The ice cream set on the chocolate cookie a particular highlight. The cheese supplemented by the apple and cakes of Eccles equally good.

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With decent coffees the whole lot came in at £62.50. A creditable fee for what was six excellent courses. The only slight downside for us was the noise. I think we got used to it after a while. It could be that things would have been a little quieter in the equally smart room away from the view? Still a minor quibble, but Im sure we’ll be giving the families other nearby restaurant ‘Nutters’ a go soon too. If the food is as good as this it should be reet!

The Bird at Birtle
239 Bury And Rochdale Old Rd,
Birtle,
OL10 4BQ
T: 01706 540 500
E: info@thebirdatbirtle.co.uk

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The Red Rose Diner – East Lancashire Railway

“Our very own Orient Express……..in Bury”

We ventured as a foursome to the gritty, northern town of Bury. I say gritty, but an afternoon stroll revealed it to in fact be pretty heftily furnished with colourful blooms. Maybe it’s upping its game? We were loosely celebrating a special birthday. A quick tour of the market, a black pudding, a pint in the ‘The Two Tubs’ before an afternoon relax at ‘The Rostrevor’ hotel.

Bury in bloom
Bury in bloom

 

Suitably spruced, we set out once again to take our place on ‘The Red Rose Diner’, a steam hauled dining train which is birthed at the rather excellent ‘East Lancashire Railway’. We are promised a step into a world of vintage glamour and sophistication with an ultimate foodie experience.

The Trackside Pub
The Trackside Pub
Real Ale
Real Ale

Well first things first. This little jaunt has a rather fortuitous starting post. It resides right next to ‘The Trackside’ pub. The pub itself is set in former railway buildings on the platform at Bury Bolton Street station. It’s mission appears to be to offer more real ales than any other pub I’ve ever been. I think it is succeeding. The place was packed with locals and Red Rose customers alike. A pint of ‘Piston Broke’ was ordered to oil the cook twit pipes. The platform remained a thriving sea of well stocked eggs, ready to take their place on the chocolate and cream diner.

 

Our steed and the merry throng
Our steed and the merry throng

Once ensconced into our romantic four berth booth we quickly got on with sorting out the next round of booze. My hawk eyed celebrant and partner had picked up on the sensational note that your own grape juice could be brought on board. A couple of ‘bots’ of Tuscany’s finest was acquired from the local M&S. The less hawk eyed had failed to pick up on the £7.50 corkage fee (or screw top removal fee!), thus rendering any monetary gain as negligible. Still it was good plonk.

With the vino sorted we were then presented with a goblet of bubbly to quaff with our first course of Galia melon complete with a couple of spoonfuls of forest fruits. If I was being picky, the melon was a tad ripe for me and was for all practical purposes impenetrable using the prescribed, humble teaspoon. However I persevered and at least achieved a cleansing of the palate. It looked good though, as with everything here it was presented with elegance and elan. By this time the train had chuffed nonchalantly from its sidings and hit the Irwell straight at a heady 25mph.

The melon and soup course
The melon and soup course

Next up the soup course. This was a much better effort for me. Mushroom and stilton soup. The flame was perturbed, her least favourite soup, not sure where the stilton was but there was plenty of earthy mushrooms on offer. It tasted wonderful and had a proper mushroom colour too. The loco had rested by now on the spectacular Sommerseat Viaduct, offering stunning but ever darkening views of the river beneath.

The more experienced waiting operatives shimmered in and out from service like an expectant Jeeves whilst the young helpers fluttered around. The service was all rather pleasant. Young and old alike providing the food and unscrewing the wine top. The mains were up next. The hot plate presented first with a piping hot, herb crusted cod. A decent wedge too. The young flutterers lined up to add the basic veg of carrots and green beans along with Lyonnais potatoes and roast potatoes. I think we managed to acquire a fairly exclusive romesco sauce to add piquancy and moisture. Considering the obvious kitchen constraints the food was presented very well and arrived piping hot. It was tasty too. A further rest on Ramsbottom station afforded the neat idea that we were truly living in the vintage past. Some old cases were piled up on the platform.

The herby cod and veg
The herby cod and veg

The train wended its way further up the line towards Rawtenstall where the fine crimson steed was allowed to rest and slink back from the front to restart the non stop rumble back. A dessert of creme brûlée and a shortbread biscuit sweetened the occasion washed up with a decent coffee and mints.

Creme brûlée, great vintage views
Creme brûlée, great vintage views

Some three hours later we found ourselves back at The Trackside for a nightcap. The whole shebang had notched up a fee of £44 each. A bit pricey? Perhaps, but presumably we were adding some coinage to keep this wonderful locomotive and it’s rolling stock in the gleaming condition it was in. It’s all kept together by the honest toil of enthusiastic volunteers. If I’m honest the actual food bit was nothing too special. Very Good? yes, exceptional? Not really. Compared to a decent, contemporary restaurant it was left a bit wanting. It was a basic menu with no choice, but it was served beautifully, and was nice and hot. The Red Rose dining experience is all about the setting and the drama of travelling by steam and recreating the heady decadence of a time gone by. It does that in spades.

Elegance and the menu
Elegance and the menu

Red Rose Diners are the ultimate dining experience, perfect for romantic meals and friendly get-togethers. Red Rose Diners run on selected Fridays and Saturdays between February and November.

The happy throng. L-R The celebrant & partner, The Flame, The Cooktwit
The happy throng. L-R The celebrant & partner, The Flame, The Cooktwit

Bolton Street, Bury BL9 0EY
T: 0161 764 7790 (lines open daily 10am – 4pm)
http://www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk