Tag Archives: prospect brewery

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

The Boathouse – Appley Bridge (near Wigan)

“There can’t be a better spot on the canal in Wigan!”

The Flame is oft referred to (by me) as “a lady wot lunches”. She normally troops to some garden centre or other but one day she opined the virtues of The Boathouse at Appley Bridge. She even said “this is one for The Cooktwit”. Bank holiday Monday was, in our parts, a fine, sunny affair. After a tortuous morning re-felting the shed I was gleefully reminded of this canal side haunt. We booked it and went. We set off North to M6 Standish. By then a cool, thick fog had descended, our intended, after dinner sleeveless stroll was dashed.


Undeterred we settled in. The boathouse seems to have been some sort of hangar. I reckon being next to a canal it once used to house boats (give him a medal, what is he on? – Ed). The room is very high and features some nailed in beams. The decoration is new and is in the standard, new pub style of mixed, feature wall paper, tweeds, prints, mixed colours and block paint. It kind of works. It’s pleasant enough. Outside a huge pergola sits next to the canal. Its sides are filled at present to fend off a westerly wind; no doubt they will be relinquished on a hot sunny day.


A pint of Prospect Brewery’s Silver Tally was soon in place to allow a perusal of the one sheet menu. It’s a very decent menu. The Flames assertion that The Cooktwit would be impressed was well founded.


I started off with a breaded pork schnitzel complete with apple and fennel slaw, pancetta crisp and a caper sauce (£5.95). The schnitzel was reassuring hot and moist, the slaw zingy and fresh. I was well pleased. The Flame didn’t have a starter but she was beaming. She knew she’d put me on to a good thing.


We both had a main course. The flame had the pan fried salmon with green beans, capers, tomatoes, lemon and herb dressing and a hot portion of chips (£12.95).  Everything was piping hot, straight from the kitchen which is on view. The salmon cooked to perfection, chips, light and crisp and a decent salad. No limp lettuce here.


I reckon I won though. I had a roasted lamb shank, which came with carrot, celery, puy lentils, rosemary jus & braised red cabbage compote (£15.95). Not too sure where the carrot was, but in their place was cabbage and spring greens which were engulfed in a rich lentil laden gravy. The gravy itself then swamped round a suitable mound of hot, buttery mash. It was a delight. The lamb fell away with minimal teasing. I wolfed the lot.


As you know I always have a sweet and today was no exception. Even the flame had one! A huge dish of apple and rhubarb crumble and custard (£4.95). The crumble still sweet and crunchy despite the overflowing jus. I had a classic lemon tart with honeycomb and raspberry (£4.95). I could have done with some ice cream for added lustre, but it was nice enough.


I’d have to say looking at the quality of the food coming out; it’s a definite try again. Burgers, fish and chips all looked top notch. The ‘we want plates’ brigade might have a thing to say as there were plenty of boards slates and nets! The Boathouse only opened in 2014 with two executive chefs and a mantra to use local, seasonal produce and champion local ales. It’s a fine offer. Get down early in summer though I reckon this is going to be a popular place. It even has an ice cream parlour outside. What’s not to like?


And if you have a coffee you get a mini eccles cake…….

The Boathouse
Mill Lane
Appley Bridge
01257 252456