Tag Archives: levanter

Eagle and Child – Ramsbottom

“I think I might have to move to Ramsbottom. It seems like some sort of heaven…….”

I’ve already splurged a few tomes extolling the wonderment that surrounds this fine old Lancashire town. Already blogged Baratxuri, Levanter, Hearth of the Ram, the artisan market as well as The Red Rose Diner courtesy of the East Lancs Railway that steams right through it. Now it’s the turn of the recently refurbished ‘Eagle and Child’. It doesn’t disappoint. To be fair it shouldn’t given the long list of accolades that have followed since its current imcumbents set to task.


I booked the table for a late Sunday lunch allowing us time to enjoy a leisurely stroll around nearby Summerseat and the wonderful Nuttal Park. As the time approached we eagerly sprinted up the hill from the town. The Eagle is a fine looking, simple stone building. The refurb has grafted an architectural glass box onto the back with fine views of the Irwell Valley and Peel Tower. The bright red Thwaites logo gives it a little lift….And that means it sells ‘Wainwrights’ golden ale. This is good thing.


Its smart inside too. A quality fit out, the bar area in particular is especially inviting.


We perused the Sunday lunch menu (£22.95 for two course, £25.95 for three) in its red binder along with the hi tech iPad specials board.

The Flame pulled her nose a bit, “Theres no chicken”, she observed*. As ever I was sticking pins in to decide as it was all glorious to me!


She settled on tomato soup to start. A little boring we thought, but she was very pleased with what turned out. Full of flavour, she agreed it was a fine start. Easy pick for me, the smoked haddock scotch egg with curried mayo. Terrific start. It would seem many shared my view, they were flying out with empty plates coming back.


For mains I went from the specials board. I was lured by the inclusion of hogget. A chop with a disc of braised shoulder, a potato gallette, some french peas and red wine jus (a fairly hefty £21.95). Ive never had hogget before but wow, the chop in particular was a treat. Beautifully tender with a fullsome, lamb taste. The rest was fine too. Thoroughly enjoyed. The Flame went for the vegetarian option, charred aubergine with spicy cous cous and goats cheese. Not my bag really but The Flame loved it. A decent looking dish.


For dessert I had the mille fleur, beautifully presented with a passionfruit cream. The Flame went for the rather splendid cheese board, wonderfully explained by Rosie.

Rosie (along with Glen and Alex) was clearly part of the management team here. She went on to explain their work with the incredible edible garden that is being cultivated at the back of the pub. We went to have a look and feed the chickens. It’s a great space that I’m sure will be packed on a fine summers day. She also explained about their work in training troubled youngsters to be chefs and waiting staff. It’s a fine story.


And did I mention the accolades? I almost forgot it had won Sunday roast of the year a few times, I was reminded many times why as plates of slavering lumps of tender pink beef wafted by. Ill be back for one of those…….

*And The Flame needn’t worry about the lack of chicken. Rosie said to give us a ring next time before you come. She was sure chef Alex could rustle something good up.

Eagle and Child

3 Whalley Road,

Tel: 01706 557181


Baratxuri – Ramsbottom

“Another wonderfully elegant splash of Spain has wafted onto the streets of Ramsbottom!” 

The weather forecast (even for Lancashire!) was looking good. “This is it!” I motioned to long suffering companion The Flame, “Ramsbottom, here we go, I need to try Baratxuri pronto”. To explain Baratxuri is the younger sister of long time favourite Levanter (reviewed here). Both based in Ramsbottom, both the ‘brainchildren’ of Joe and Fiona, both serve up authentic Spanish cuisine of the highest quality. Levanter is billed as a tapas (small plates) bar; Baratxuri touts itself as a Pintxos (pronounced Peen cho!) bar. 


Whereas Levanter is wonderfully rustic, Baratxuri seems to have a more elegant feel. Similar in size, galley at the back, bar to the right, the walls are clad in a patchwork of colourful Spanish tiles. A slinky jazz track buzzes in the background. We selected one of only two tables in front of the sun kissed window. Most people where then left to sit on high bar stools around a beer barrel or up to a fitted café bar. Chalked boards detail the food on offer. I reckon twenty covers would fill it. It is a fabulously, relaxing space.


Apparently Pintxo is a Basque word that literally means a “spike”. This would explain why all the bite sized goodies on the bar where harpooned with a wooden pick. The idea is that you slink up to the bar, order your txacoli (traditional dry white wine), take a plate and fill up with the exquisite morsels. They are £3 a pop. You simply stack the picks in a glass which formulates your Pintxo bill at the end. Great way to dine.

The spikes! of Pintxos

As well as the small bites on the bar, a small board sets out further pintxos that are ordered up hot and fresh from the kitchen. Typically £4.50 each. Sunday adds the magnificent Mariscada as a special at £35 to share. As a lover of seafood it was this special that I was particularly keen to try. The Mariscada is a forty minute wait, (though it took around fifty! for us). We settled with a couple of Pintxos to satiate our cravings, one crab and one ham and cheese. Both decidedly pleasant. I missed out on a small bucket of octopus, one of the other pintxos that came out later.

Finally having watched a couple of others come out before us, and after the tools, tomato salad and bread, our ‘feast of the sea’ was placed before us. A true sight to behold I’m sure you’ll agree?


A dressed crab, half a lobster, sensational scallops on a bed of peppers and fennel sausage, grilled sardine, a mound of whitebait, two fabulous carabineros prawns and a bucket of lobster bisque. All piping hot and ready to go. We set about the task in hand with gusto. We picked, mopped, sucked, crunched, and slurped our way through a glorious tray of the freshest finery of the sea.


Though not a big fan of seafood, even The Flame acknowledged the quality of presentation and value for money. We watched many people, couples and friends come and go. Some would grab a draft of Spanish beer others the wine and some pintxos, then simply move on. It all works superbly. All in we settled up at £48 pluis tip for a superb lunch. Allied to the friendly and knowledgeable staff it counts as another triumph for Joe and Fi and  yet another ‘foodie’ reason to head over to Ramsbottom. What a place this is….



1 Smithy St,

01706 559090


Top Dishes of 2015

I can see a bandwagon coming along. Yep, I’m on it. Welcome to my 2015 food review! It’s now customary to provide a small compendium of what has been quaffed over the last year. I did one for 2014 and that seemed to go down well. I’ve already read a few this year. They’ve generally been a more exotic round up than mine, but nonetheless the grub featured here is top stuff.

Like last year this isn’t all the top grub, but merely the ones that have stood out slightly from the rest. As ever, the joy of a decent feed comes not just from the food itself but from that certain feeling of well being that one feels as the plate, dish, tub, tray, slate (or even flowerpot) is first placed down in front of you and the experience starts.

The meals featured are in no particular order. Just generally great.

Early doors we went to Simon Rogan’s, The French in Manchester. This gives a reason to show some raw beef in coal oil again. I could have shown loads more. Suffice to say The French was very good indeed. But you already knew that.


I love a decent burger. A newcomer to Manchester this year has been Filthy Cow. Young Jordan has done really well there. The filthy beast is a beaut, and washed down with a Ginger Comfort milkshake you really are on a winner.


I love a good pud and have had many fine ones. Albina‘s (in Crosby) really hit the spot with their old school jam roly poly and custard.


We went to Jersey for our hols. Michelin starred Ormer was a highlight. Loved the steak tartare with a horseradish cream. Jersey is a fabulous place to visit and eat. Mark Jordan on the Beach another one to recommend.


Big treat for me is a Sunday Brunch. We had none better this year than at NewMoon’s spectacular, Scouse opening ‘The Old Blind School‘. Eggs Benedict and French toast, it was boss.

French toast, haddock omelette, eggs benedict



Bit of a Spanish explosion in Manchester this year. Had wonderful octopus at Levanter, which is a sensational tapas bar in Ramsbottom (but somehow seems to be considered as near Manchester!). Had a corking paella in Iberica in Spinningfields and wonderous Iberian ribs at the Barton Arcades Lunya. All three will be on the list again for 2016, along with my old faithful El Rincon De Rafa.





No year would be complete without a good steak. Didn’t have a better one that at Hawksmoor, Manchester. Sensational rib eye with anchovy mayonnaise and thrice cooked chips! Had a wonderfully indulgent lobster in a bun too.


Had a short break in Barcelona for my birthday. Glorious tuna at the infamous Pinotxo Bar in La Boqueria market. Finished off the break with a suckling pig dish at 4 Gats in the old town.


I love a Sunday roast, had none better than at Freemasons Wiswell. Simply stunning. Will admit though that The Bay Horse Inn (Lancaster) came up close.


If pizza is your thing, (and occasionally it is mine!) newcomer to Manchester, Tariff and Dale in the northern quarter do a pretty mean one. Check them out.


Best scallop and lamb meal was had in one sitting at The Cartford Inn (Little Eccleston) Pretty incredible really, never had lamb like it, totally historic.


The Flame (the wife!) loves fish pie. Couldn’t get by without mentioning The Bulls Head at Mobberly. She reckoned that’s the best this year. Full of fish, beautiful.


Love seafood. Who doesn’t? Didn’t have it prepared any better than at The Easy Fish Company in Heaton Moor. What a plaice this is! Well worth a visit. Has a lovely piece of plaice with a slash of Crustacea and shells. Incredible.

Plaice with all the trimmings


Working in Manchester as I do, I couldn’t finish without mentioning The Kitchens. A new, six pop up, street food outlet in Spinningfields. All six are ace, I had them all. Long time favourite Mumma Shnitzel maintained remarkable, consistent quality for their chicken based burgers. Young Richard at Bangers and Bacon (as well as Well Hung) rocked up with superb meat based offerings. Hip Hop Chippy Shop did what it says on the tin with a cracking fish and chip butty. Chaat Cart (Indian Canteen) with the wonderful Aarti at the helm delivered amazing chicken kati rolls. Yakuhama and Wholesome and Raw brought some slightly less carb loaded nutrition to the table.

Chip butty, bean salad, avocado scrambled egg breakfast, banh mi, kati roll, schnitzel.

All in all a fabulous year for food. I’m sure I’ve missed loads out. I could have added loads more too. Who will forget the Solita Christmas burger? and the lemon posset in a flowerpot at The Royal at Staveley? If you follow on Twitter you would have seen all this anyway. If you read the blog you would have had a bit more detail on these too. Read on if you really haven’t anything better to do!

Anyway that’s it. Happy new year. Let’s look forward to trying more great dishes in 2016!

Levanter – Ramsbottom

“A sumptuous crumb of the real Spain…….in Ramsbottom!”

The Flame and I (mainly I) love Ramsbottom. Whenever we are stuck for a ride out, its first on my list as a place to hit. I’ve already jotted a few words here and there about the Sunday market, Hearth Of The Ram and dining on The East Lancashire Railway. It’s a super spot, and now (well for several months actually) to top it all Levanter Fine Foods have opened a quaint, shops width of Spain. What an inspired enterprise this is.


I’ve stumbled across Fiona and Joe (husband and wife team who own Levanter) several times over the last couple of years. I had the pleasure of devouring a plate of Joe’s paella at a Manchester food festival. I’ve bought their ‘sabrasada’ and fine iberico ham from the stall on Ramsbottom market. They’ve now ditched the outdoor stuff for a more ‘grown up’ existence running their tapas bar. It’s set left just off the Main Street as you walk up from The East Lancs Railway station.

Bar, boards and range
Bar, boards and range

As I say it’s no more than a shop, but somehow, using ‘tardis’ technology they’ve levered in a bar, some tables and chairs, a raised section, some menu boards and a range to cook on. The whole ensemble creates an enchanting Spanish space. And when combined with the wonderfully excitable Fiona marshalling front of house operations you are soon left with that wonderful feeling that you’ve landed in just the right place at the right time.


After some deliberation The Flame decided a couple of stools at the bar would work for us as we were only ‘nipping’ in for a light lunch. I just about managed to stop myself ordering the Sunday special of 1kg of ‘Txulerton’ Galician steak. At £45 a pop it’s become something bordering on legend status in these parts and it’s easy to see why. We saw a couple come out while we sat at the bar. Read Bacon On The Beechs synopsis here for more details and fine images.

We settled for a more modest selection but nonetheless they all hit the spot. Being a Sunday (and following on from a hectic Saturday night) one has to consider the possibility of certain items being ‘sold out’. Despite the beautifully scribed chalk boards citing an array of fine foods we were encouraged to consult a printed sheet for Sunday lunch. Still plenty to go at.

Tortilla, mixed fish
Tortilla, mixed fish

We settled on a selection of artisan breads with salsa (£3.50), the flame chose slices of acorn fed Iberico Lomo (loin) with rocket and olives (£6) while I settled on the mixed fish of octopus, red mullet, king prawn, whitebait, baby octopus with aioli (£6). We finished with a San Sebastián tortilla (£4) which came out as a sort of warm, fresh, oozy, potato, eggy pie. Being the sweety that I am I had a slab of plum shortcake with cream to finish.

Iberico Lomo, plum shortcake
Iberico Lomo, plum shortcake

Even the flame (who is not a big fan of tapas) was moved to conclude that it had been an absolute delight. She wasn’t too keen on the tortilla and wouldn’t contemplate going anywhere near the baby octopus, but revelled in the quality and variety of the breads, the iberico ham was sublime and even had some of the octopus tentacle which was cooked to perfection. A very decent coffee finished a most pleasurable hour.


As you can see we didn’t exactly go through the card, but I reckon it must be a revelation to land here on an evening with an empty stomach and a few hours to while away. There’s a good selection of Spanish beers to complement the food. With Joe cooking, Fiona on welcoming duty and a selection of pleasant and eager helpers it is a thoroughly splendid offer. If I thought I liked Ramsbottom before, the opening of Levanter has just moved it to stellar status. I might even have to move here…………

Levanter Fine Foods
Tel: 01706 55 1530 (opening hours only)
Email: info@levanterfinefoods.co.uk