Tag Archives: Lancashire

The Clog and Billycock – Pleasington, Blackburn

“These RVI (Ribble Valley Inns) pubs are still doing it well, though others are cathcing up”

Been to a few of these, there are four in total. The Three Fishes in Mitton was our first. They all boast high standards of produce from local artisans. Images of Jeff and his bangers, Mavis and her sourdough and others adorn the walls  to emphasise the deal. The Clog and Billycock in sleepy Pleasington, a rural village on the outskirts of Blackburn, maintains the tradition.
Another feature of them all is the smart decor and impressive fit out materials. No nailed on OSB and cheap ply in the Ribble Valley Inn group. Veneered, light oaks and high end fabrics create a sumptuous feel.
The menus and food are great too. Its extensive Lancashire based fayre. Nigel Howarth’s hot pot, fish and chips, black puddings, scotch eggs, they’re all here. As it happens we chose from the rather inviting separately printed, spring menu.
The Flame had wonderfully spiced chicken livers on sourdough, my slightly disappointing start was a rather dry fish cake, with an equally dry egg, which was, however, just saved by the swamp of creamy leeks that it sat on.

Mains were a triumph. Super fish pie whilst I had the best moules frites since an alfresco lunch in Lille in 1990!
I finished with the delightful white chocolate and lemon curd posset which came festooned with spring fruits.
Since we went a few weeks back the press later announced that the Northcote/Nigel Haworth alliance was selling the four RVI emporiums. I hope they go to a good home and maintain the standard. They are a rare treat.

The Clog & Billycock
Billinge End Rd,
T 01254 201163


The White Hart – Sabden, Lancashire

“Looks like The Ribble Valley has another gem! This time in Sabden!”

The latest instalment of our tri-annual jaunt with Yorkshire folk led me to stick a pin between the grand metropolis of Leeds and the less grand, township of Newton-le-Willows. The pin fell in Sabden, a quaint village set in the bowels of a huge, natural bowl between the majestic tarmac strips of the A59 and the M65! The pin further picked out ‘The White Hart’, a hitherto unknown emporium of fine ales and home cooked fuel. The Flame and I set out to meet our Yorkshire counterparts.


The plan was to walk around the nearby reservoir and retreat to ‘The Hart’ for refreshments. What really happened was that we sat in, had a pint and called in our two thirty appointment an hour early. The delightful Lydia led us to our spartan table. Our initial comfort hindered by the brilliant winter sunshine pouring through the untreated windows. A large, well balanced menu card was hastily positioned to ward off the blinding light.


Its smart enough from the outside. Like many of the refurbished Thwaites outlets, its white with gold lettering and the red logo. Inside, It’s a large square room with the bar set in the centre. You can walk round it and set down in one of four separate spaces. Its very much brown and beige. Not too many soft furnishings. It’s a bit spartan to be honest, but cosy enough once we sat down.

Settled in, we marvelled at the sensational menu and specials board. A veritable phalanx of Lancashire classics swept across my vision. Could have placed a pin anywhere and I would have been in heaven, lamb confit hotpot, goosnargh chicken, Lancashire cheese and onion pie……superb stuff. IMG_1827

We ordered up and soon our starters of Risotto Verdi, asparagus and pea in a parmesan basket (£6), homemade mushroom soup (a mere £4), brisket corned beef hash cake, poached egg (£6) and a roasted sardine with caper dressing (£6), turned up, together, all piping hot. We were all suitably enthralled with our choice. My parmesan crisp a delight, the corned beef hash a major triumph.

For mains I went for the Pendle rack of lamb, tempura black pudding, black pepper mash (£19), a fellow cohort went roast goosnargh chicken breast with garlic dauphinoise potatoes, crispy bacon and sage (£16), The Flame a baked fish pie (£14) whilst our final guest went braised steak and blue cheese pot pie with crushed garden peas, puffed pastry top and fries (£15).


The lamb rack beautifully pink and soft, chicken moist and tasty, the fish pie as good as anywhere and the braised steak reported in as a revelation. As I think you’ll agree it all looked rather splendid.


Only a couple of us went sweet. Me the bruled lemon tart, whilst Julie went for the poached rhubarb cheesecake with a milkshake, both £6. My tart was presented wonderfully and rounded things off superbly. The cheesecake though, even better. Great portion too.


The chef today was Martin. The owners Dan and Becky have really got things going well here. They have also taken over The Griffin in nearby Huncoats and also The Station Inn in Clitheroe centre, which Dan was painting on the afternoon we were there! If this is what we can expect then theres another two fine additions to The Ribble Valley experience. The scene is really prospering up there. I think Ill be up there every week…….

The White Hart Inn
36 Padiham Road
01282 777862

Yew Tree Inn – Angelzarke, Chorley

“A drive out, hearty lunch and a pleasant stroll around Angelzarke reservoir. A perfect Sunday afternoon”

Its September, autumn is coming isn’t it? It’s a stunning Sunday afternoon, arguably one of summers finest, The Flame and I head up to The Yew Tree in Angelzarke. A chum has recommended it, he reckons this is classic Cooktwit territory. He’s not wrong. We bag the last spot in the car park and head inside through the happy throngs who are strewn over every table outside on the glorious sun kissed terrace. We have booked and are shown a table inside by the window. Bizarrely its rather cool inside, but we press on, assuming the clouds will come soon and that the outdoor revellers will soon be tripping back in. We assumed wrong.


We settle to survey the menus. A Sunday one and the standard a la carte. An Angelzarke pale ale by Blackedge Brewery is set beside by one of the attentive, uniformed team. There are several cask ales to chose from but I go local.


A quick glance round shows that the place has clearly had something of a spruce up. Stone floors and stone walls have all been suitably scrubbed, tables re-stained, re-lacquered, paintwork daubed in F&B’s finest heritage blue. Etched glasswork panels add even more of a contemporary edge. Its very smart. We can see head chef Oli Farrah (a Masterchef finalist) marshalling his kitchen in readiness.


We select our lunch. We pick starters from the a la carte. The Flame selects the salt baked Lancashire heritage beetroot with homemade curd salad and walnuts (£6.95), I go for the salt and pepper squid with homemade sweet chilli sauce (£7.95). She drooled over the salad, loved it. Great colour and beautifully presented in a huge white bowl. My squid is equally terrific, hot, peppery, perfectly cooked. An extraordinary portion too, the salty bits offset by the acidic asian carrots and chilli jam. Super stuff.


For mains, The Flame goes for her staple Fish Pie (£12.95). It comes with a soft poached egg, vegetables and lashing of buttery mash. In her words a match for her all time favourite at The Church Green (see review here). High praise indeed.

I plumb for the traditional Sunday roast, topside of Lancashire beef with seasonal veg (£15.95). As with most dishes, it came set in a huge bowl. The beef beautifully pink and lashings of it too. If anything probably too much! Whereas normaly the veg are a bit of a side issue to the main event , here they were worthy of special mention. They were fabulous, loved the way the carrots and courgette where ribboned and beautifully seasoned. The roasties and gravy equally impressive.


As usual I had dessert, white chocolate and blueberry cheesecake (£5.95). A dream of a dessert. Exceedingly good.

Unusually the Sunday lunch isn’t a set price and ends up setting me back just shy of thirty quid. Even my current Sunday lunch fave The Freemasons at Wiswell (reviewed here) is £25 for three courses, but that’s a minor quibble. The bill came to £60. We then set off for a stroll around the magnificent nearby reservoir. Well, worth doing after the feed you’ll get at The Yew Tree. Give it a go…


Yew Tree Inn
Dill Hall Brow
Heath Charnock,
Lancashire PR6 9HA

T 01257 480344


The White Swan at Fence, Lancashire

“By pure coincidence I am reading Commandment 5 in his book The Ten Commandments of Food by Jay Rayner. It states “Thou Shalt Not Cut Off The Fat”. I had a glorious piece of beef with globs of golden fat at The White Swan at Fence. Its where all the flavour is!”

The White Swan has been on the list for sometime, indeed Jay Rayner himself has dined and proclaimed allegiance to this quaint little public house in the rural shadows of Pendle Hill. Its yet another glorious stab on the map for Lancashire.


We began the hours run in glorious sunshine, but on arrival the clouds had descended. The poor light didn’t particularly help the aspect. The building appeared more brown cygnet than graceful white Swan. It is small, out of the way, and next door’s scaffolding grafted at one end added to the slightly disappointing initial impression. Venturing round the back there is some smart outdoor seating, which I’m sure would be most welcoming in better weather. That said once inside things soon picked up. Despite not many people being inside there was an immediate warmth as we were welcomed in with a beaming smile.


A glorious, polished welcoming bar hits first. A larger, naturally lit room opens up to the right, a smaller, darker room is left through an arch. Having the pick of the tables we decided this would be the room to go for. It was tastefully festooned with local countryside accoutrements. A couple of full antlered deer had hit the walls hard from outside and candlelit pentagons ladened the cills. We settled with a pint of Timothy Taylor’s and ruminated over the bijou and well set menu. It’s a simple A5 card clipped to a board. Three starts, three mains, three afters. Simplicity itself.

As ever for me a blindfold and a pin would have sufficed. The Flame however, was struggling a bit with the limited choice. We got there though.

Potato skins, girolles, egg & truffle, the cheese biscuits

For starters The Flame had the stuffed jacket skins with Lancashire cheese and chives (£5). I went for the Scottish girolles, runny egg and truffle sauce (£8). It came in a curvaceous bowl, the yolk was wonderfully sous vide and soon melded into the buttered girolles. I ate it with a spoon. It was absolutely sublime.

For mains The Flame went for the Lune wild salmon, girolles, lemon and lovage (£18). Beautifully cooked and presented she was a little disappointed with the portion size and lack of sides. We had an extra portion of the sunday trimmings to bolster the offer.

Pink Dexter beef with all the trimmings

I went for the dexter beef and all the sunday trimmings (£18). Ive never had dexter beef before but it wont be the last time. Not sure Ive ever had beef as tasty as this. Cooked pink with a swathe of golden fat along one edge it was totally ‘historic’. The trimmings were just as good too. As the Masterchef greengrocer would say “smooth, hot buttery mash and beautifully seasoned”. Buttery barrelled carrots and cabbage, great yorkshires and cauliflower cheese though the ‘roastie’ was a bit over to be honest.   All in all a great sunday roast.

The lune salmon with girolles lemon and lovage

As ever a dessert for me. Baked egg custard, bilberries and earl grey tea ice cream (£7). Never has the term ‘less is more’ been more apt to describe the genius of this delightful morsel of sweet heaven. As Mr Rayner himself quotes “no one needs dessert”, as we are always full from our savoury courses, but thankfully I persevered! It was simply stunning, I could have eaten bowls of it.

The mammoth cheeseboard and the sublime egg custard

The Flame had two cheeses from the cheeseboard (£6), I say cheeseboard, more like a cheese table! I reckon the HSE should get involved it must have weighed a ton. Ive never seen so much cheese. But fair play, the jovial waitress described every one. We settled on a red Leicester and a sensational Killeen goats cheese Gouda. Thats going on the list as a buy!


The bill came in at £75 with a tip. Hardly your two for a tenner gaff this! This is a real food lovers experience, Its probably fair to say if you are a bit fussy this might not be for you. As for me I’d happily eat here everyday for ever……..

white swan

300 wheatley lane road


bb12 9qa

01282 611773

Waddington Arms – Waddington, Clitheroe

“Hmm that’s another fine place you’ve got me into”

Lancashire once again throws up another place to drive out to. Truth be known Ive been passed The Waddington Arms a few times on the way to north west foodie favourite, The Parkers Arms (reviewed here). We regularly meet up with a couple from Leeds and often meet halfway. This time I suggested The Waddington Arms in (guess where)? Waddington as a decent meeting point.


All the accoutrements of a fine Sunday lunch were in place. Sleepy idyllic village, check, good country walks, check, fine country pubs to stop off at, check. However, the sleepy village bit wasn’t quite as sleepy as anticipated. Being fathers day and the annual Waddington duck race it was far from sleepy. Indeed the place was cordoned off and suitably rammed with revellers intent on losing their mortgage on the dubious fate of a numbered plastic duck! Thankfully I had booked a table, and it was with a suitably smug swagger that we entered this fine establishment and took our place in the rather grand dining room. Set to one side of the heaving traditional stone floored bar, the space held host to several enormous, antique dining tables. Im sure one could seat twelve easy, indeed ours could have sat eight. We sat in huge comfy carvers and glanced out into the duck waving throng through heavy tartan drapes.

A couple of Harrier pale ales had the gentlemen in the crew purring nicely. We surveyed the enormous, cream and blue menu card. Along with a chalked specials board it covered all the British classics and a few other bits too. The card promised the best of the local produce.

Black pudding, fish cakes, duck spring rolls

Starting off I was left slightly disappointed really. My confit duck spring rolls on a pineapple and a chilli chutney base were pleasant enough, but a poor second to the wonderfully peppery, chunky vegetable soup, the sensational black pudding, poached egg, haddock, bacon on a crumpet and the sublime fish cakes enlisted by the others.

I was much more enraptured with my main. A rather super fillet of sea bream atop an uncious seafood risotto, bursting with meaty mussels and flavour. Others had a creditable fish and chips and a rather good steak and ale pie with all the trimmings.

Fish and chips, seafood risotto and sea bream, steak and ale pie

I ventured, as always for a sweet end. A cuboid of bread and butter pudding, slicked in cream for me. Would have preferred a grand, messy dollop courtesy of a shovel from a huge earthenware bowl, but hey it tasted fine.

The finish line and merriment, bread and butter pudding

I should mention that after Donald (duck number 343) had romped home down the fast running village stream the heavens decided to disgorge its torrent. Waddington Arms being the centre of all the action became the natural refuge for the bedraggled hordes. Our previously civilised dining area became the place where tortured parents rested their weary and increasingly bored youngsters. We took the light hearted commotion in our stride. It went to show really just what community spirit is all about. Clearly Waddington Arms know their place in it, right at the centre. It’s a super place and I’m sure with kinder elements and a less frenzied pace it is a definite thumbs up and one to get to again.

Waddington Arms




01200 423262


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’.

Moist orange sponge, bread and butter pudding


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

Tel: 01524 791204

The Cartford Inn – Little Eccleston, Poulton

“Yawn, another superb place to eat in Lancashire!”

Regular readers will know (what you have regulars? – Ed) that I have become acutely aware of the plethora of fine eateries in our very own ‘Northern Quarters’ of Lancashire. It was only a few weeks ago we sampled the wonders of Freemasons at Wiswell (see here). This fine bank holiday Monday it was a quick tour into the fair county of Fylde to witness the highly acclaimed ‘The Cartford Inn’.

image Continue reading The Cartford Inn – Little Eccleston, Poulton

Freemasons of Wiswell – Lancashire

“I reckon you can fall out of bed and hit your head on an AA rosette in the Ribble valley!”

It is clear there is a plethora of fine eateries in this golden seam of rural Lancashire. The Flame and I chalked another Northern gem off the list last Sunday. This time ‘Freemasons at Wiswell’ to add to ‘The Parkers Arms’, ‘Assheton Arms’, ‘The Three Fishes’ and probably a few others. And once again, as with the others, it is well worth the hours drive.


It was a chance tickle on the old ‘tinterweb’ to see where we could go for lunch when I saw Wiswell on the map. It clicked a few cogs and within seconds the ‘Opentable’ electronic platform confirmed we had indeed bagged a lunch time spot at the Freemasons. The steed sped North, an hour later the young lady in the dashboard led us up a narrow track past the fine, understated, terraced exterior.

We pushed through the cacophony of prizes on the windows. Ribands, rosettes, stars, cups they were all there. We knew we were entering somewhere rather grand. We were warmly welcomed and gently ushered to our upper floor table. A quick glance at the bar confirmed my first beverage would be manufactured by Propsect Brewery, a fine purveyor of light beers.


Our table for two could have sat six. We had plenty of space and time to admire the plush, substantial décor. Pure countrtyside. Tweeds mixed with game, hunting, and racing images backed by crisp yellow ‘paintage’. This is a quality interior. This is where you bring your favourite Gran for a fine birthday feast! Great stuff.

First up, the breads. I concur with many that the quality of bread (and the butter for that matter) sets the tone. What a tone this sets. A platoon of warm, homemade delights festooned a steely slate. Quinelles of butter sprigged with salt lent a hand nearby. The combinations were tremendous. I could have carried on and just lived off this.

The bread, butter, the chips
The bread, butter, the chips

We ordered from the £25 per head, set three course lunch. It’s a sparing but nonetheless triumphant offer. The Flame went for the cod loin, set on charred and pickled melon which was set in a large bowl. The waitress then swamped the said ingredients in a warm pool of iberico ham flavoured broth. The Flame wasn’t initially convinced but soon warmed to the idea. I managed half a fork full of translucent cod, washed in ham. Wonderful. I had heritage tomatoes with English mozzarella salad. Except it wasn’t just that. It also arrived in a huge earthenware bowl. The tomatoes diced, the ice cold mozzarella set as a cream. It was more like a desert. It was crackingly good. A particular revelation being the warm ‘tomato essence’. Coming the day after watching Kenny Atkinson (House of Tides) prepare ‘tomato water’ the day before on Saturday kitchen it was a particular delight.

Cod, heritage tomatoes
Cod, heritage tomatoes

Main courses swept in. The Flame a huge pot of fish pie topped with vegetables and dotted with mash. Still a touch short of her all time favourite at The Church Green, but splendid all the same. She also had to test out the chip competition. A couple of weeks back we had lauded the triple cooked versions by Hawksmoor. These duck fat efforts were equally, if not more tremendous. Perfect cylinders of soft, golden potato. A true delight and an absolute must when you come.


I had arguably the finest Sunday roast Ive ever had. The beef cooked to the prescribed vermillion  allied to a suite of beautifully cooked and remarkably tasty vegetables. A perfect Sunday roast for me. Thoroughly agreeable.

Sweet time. Two simple desserts. The flame a deep chocolate mousse with passion fruit ice cream, while I had ‘Alpine Strawberry’, a disc of mashed berries with creamy cream and vanilla ice cream. Both thoroughly delightful. A very decent coffee ended it all.


We paid the £65 bill and marvelled to each other at the quality of what we had just eaten. We left already formulating plans to return for a special occasion and to go from the normal menu. The accolades are fully deserved, this is indeed a very special place. I’m afraid it’s another recommend from us.

Freemasons at Wiswell
8 Vicarage Fold

t: 01254 822218
e: enquiries@freemasonswiswell.co.uk

Town Green Brasserie – Aughton, Ormskirk

“Looks like this Seafood Pub Company have got things going in the right direction”

That’s three out of six we’ve done now. Assheton Arms, Farmers Arms and now the Town Green Brasserie. I don’t think I’m being too disingenuous to suggest that the Town Green Brasserie is slightly the less salubrious of the three so far. After all ‘brasserie’ is defined as ‘a small restaurant serving beer and wine as well as food; usually cheap’. It’s smaller than the others with less outdoor space. Not that that stopped the locals slurping outside until the last remnants of the evening sun ebbed away.


It’s the newest though. Open six weeks. The decor as you would imagine is pristine, green, wood and more wood. Seating is basic, no lounging here, hence the brasserie tag? It’s the usual quality menu though. The Flame and I were well impressed with the fayre on offer.


After the gentle breeze out to the sticks (the Cooktwit driving) a local, lonely Burscough brew pale ale had us settled and choosing from the premium card. Seafood features. So it was pretty much seafood that we went for. Whilst we stuck to the menu there was a great selection of specials too. The grilled mackerel, plaice and new potatoes, enthusiastically and expertly explained by our young waitress.

Starters up first. We both went ‘terriney’ and ‘hocky’, me devilled crab, with salmon and shrimps (£6.50) the flame traditional ham with cheeses and chutney (£5.50). They were both presented in a similar fashion, plate, clam shell jar. Both looked good, both tasted very good. My crab had a little kick, the flames ham featured big chunks of the stuff.

Starters, devilled crab and ham hock
Starters, devilled crab and ham hock

Mains rocked up. The flame won this one. Storming piece of hake on a slurry of peas, smoked bacon and onions, (£13.50). The hake was beautifully roasted! She loved it. I went for ‘posh’ scampi, made up of monkfish and king prawn (£18.50) dusted in a dark, crispy coat. If I was being picky it looked a bit boring, but to be fair it was what it said it was going to be so I can’t really argue. There was some big chunks of fish buried in there. The king prawns particularly hunky and flavoursome. Great chips too.

Scampi and hake
Scampi and hake

As usual I went for a dessert whilst the flame sat back and quaffed a light red wine and a coffee. I went for the passion fruit and strawberry mess with little coconut meringues (£5.95). Lovely end to the meal. I know it’s easy but I love a good mess and this hit the spot.

I love a good mess
I love a good mess

All in we were at £35 a head. Pretty standard nowadays. We really like what The Seafood Pub Company are doing. We’ve set our mission to do them all. We’ve a few to go. If they all keep up this standard they really are a credit and an asset to their creators and local community alike. A true delight and a worthy alternative to the Nigel Haworths RVI chain that operate in these parts too. Lancashire has some fantastic places to eat. Long may it continue…
Town Green Brasserie,
L39 6SE
Phone: 01695 420 883
Email: info@towngreenbrasserie.co.uk

The Assheton Arms – Downham, Clitheroe

“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.

Great frontage, great view
Great frontage, great view

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.

Table, muted tartan, picture window
Table, muted tartan, 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.

Bar, missed the log fire!
Bar, missed the log fire!

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.

The well huned log, cod cakes
The well huned log, cod cakes

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!

Fish Stew, Piri piri swordfish.
Fish Stew, Piri piri swordfish.

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.

Peach tart with meringue!
Peach tart with meringue!

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
Email: info@asshetonarms.com