“Yawn, yet another Lancashire pub chain serving local, quality food with wonderful hospitality!”
It’s early December, The Cooktwit has bagged a day off and decided to treat The Flame to a slap up lunch out in the sticks. The in car navigation system is set to The Assheton Arms, Downham Village, Clitheroe. Why here? I liked the sound of its parents! The Seafood Pub Company. Anyone with seafood in its title is going a long way in my eyes.
Downham Village is a pleasant, rural bolt hole a couple of miles outside foodie hub Clitheroe. Indeed it would seem you can stick a pin anywhere in the Lancashire/Ribble Valley and hit somewhere good to eat. I’ve already reported the fine virtues of The Parkers Arms and The Three Fishes, both close by. Despite the wintry date, the weather was kind. Overcast but still and mild, great for walking but thwarted the wonderful views from the terrace as we walked in.
Once inside, two fine gentlemen greeted us warmly, almost as warmly as the roaring fire. Having ascertained our 1pm booking was all in order we biffed up a deck to a rather charming dining salon. Resplendent with muted tartan and country hues it felt like a big cuddle from a favourite, buxom aunt (obviously the one with curlers out and teeth in!). Splendid views across ‘them there hills’ were afforded from a picture window.
A restorative livener was sanctioned in the shape of a Thwaites Wainwrights golden Ale. An excellent start. The Flame and I settled on our naturally lit, circular table to survey the card. And what a splendid card it was. The offerings headed by cooking method rather than courses. Smoked, Robata Grill, Clay Pot, Street Food, Boat, Snacks, Specials and Starters. It’s a lovely menu.
As expected seafood and fish gets a heady billing, but there’s plenty for everyone here on this highly eclectic menu. Flavours and influences seem to come from all over the world. Caribbean Cod Cakes, Piri piri swordfish, Chicken with lemongrass, Goan King Prawn Curry all mixed in with local favourites.
The Flame decided on the fishy side for starts and main. The aforementioned Caribbean cod cakes (£4.95) arrived to start simply placed on a slate with a fiery jerk sauce. Very nice though a little dry she thought. Brought to life by the hot, thick, smoky spread.
I ventured in the ‘The little smoke room’ for my starters. I had the potted smoked duck, Scotch quail egg, pickles, salad cream, toast (£7.95). It all arrived attached to its very own, specially honed log. The log having slots and routered ledges to accommodate the pots and slices of feed. Could have done with a couple more of the quails eggs! The salad cream was runny but utterly ‘delish’. The potted duck and pickles nice enough. A great start, things were going well.
Mains next. The Flame was touched to try the piri piri swordfish (£15.50). An unusual choice for her. She was tricked into the spicy coating and intrigued by the crispy chick peas. It came with a herb and citrus quinoa salad and smoked peppers. A heady combination I think you’ll agree? It looked a picture and tasted super as well. I managed a morsel. The crispy chick peas adding a crunchy texture.
I was seduced by one of the days special. A steaming bowl of mixed fish stew (£16). Chomping swabs of sea bass, salmon, scallops lovingly squelched in a lobster bisque, topped with mussels and a crostini with aioli. Just hit the spot for me. As I say I love my seafood!
For research purposes I again was compelled to try a dessert. And boy what a dessert. Peaches and cream custard tart with toasted meringue and raspberry syrup (£5.95). Served slightly warm it was heaven on a plate. Needless to say I wolfed the lot.
The Seafood Pub Company is gradually adding country pubs to its portfolio. It has six in all so far. If they are all as good as this it means we’ve got plenty of places to go at for a nice drive out. Ill be giving them a go. So should you.
The Assheton Arms Downham, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 4BJ
Phone: 01200 441 227