Tag Archives: Sunday Roast

The Star Inn The City – York

“There can’t be a better setting in York to enjoy a scrumptious Sunday lunch”

We had the enviable task of meeting up with some fine old, Yorkshire folk in the beautiful city of York. Social media advice suggested ‘The Star Inn The City’, sister to Michelin starred ‘The Star Inn Harome’ would provide a suitable setting. Boy they were right. Located in the Old Engine House on the edge of York’s Museum Gardens in a riverside setting close to the historic Lendal Bridge, The Star Inn The City is superbly positioned overlooking the wonderful Ouse.


Both ‘Stars’ (York and Harome) are headed up by celebrated and inimitable chef Andrew Pern. By pure coincidence the Star in York chef Michael Wilkinson featured on Masterchef days later. Humour and quirkiness lurks in the DNA, as depicted by the many cartoon images and fun menus. It’s a mixture of old and new. Half the place is a space age glass house which is welded onto the old engine tower. Its in the glass bit that you dine. It’s a lovely space overlooking what Im sure in summer would be a packed outdoor deck.


As the place was packed out and we were thirty minutes early for our 3pm slot we downed a pint of hand pulled ‘two chefs’ ale in the old, wonderfully quaint river room, before moving across to the sleek, new bit and choosing from the colourful menu.

I started with the Posh Peeled Prawn Cocktail with Oak-smoked Salmon, Bloody Mary Sorbet, Green Pea Purée, Marinaded Tomatoes and Fresh Basil (£12). It came in a huge, glass goblet, packed to the gunnels with fishy goodness. There must have been a pound of salmon in there! It was a far cry from the bright pink 1970’s efforts I’ve had before. Glorious. The Yorkshire gent went for Deep-fried Devilled Whitebait with Lemon and Cracked Black Pepper Mayonnaise (£7). It arrived on a plank, the whitebait settled into a large bowl. Another corking portion.

Enormous prawn cocktail, goats cheese, scallops en croute

The ladies went for Baked King Scallops ‘En Croûte’ with Fountains Gold Cheddar, Smoked Bacon & Creamed Leeks… cooked to order (at a fairly eye watering £15) along with the Deep-fried Breaded Lowna Dairy Goats Cheese with Stewed Fig Chutney, Candied Walnuts and Mulled Wine Syrup (£9). The scallops a triumph, the goats cheese (according the The Flame) a little less so.

The fun menu, whitebait

For mains two of us went from the specials menu and had the roast waterford farm sirloin beef and all the trimmings (£19). One went for the rather stunning ’10oz’ Gammon ‘Rib Eye’ with Fried Free Range Egg, Honey’d Pineapple and chips (£15). The Flame unusually went for the ‘10oz’ Marbled Rib-eye served with ‘Viking Buttered’ Flat Mushroom, Chip Shop Chips, Bloody Mary Ketchup & House Salad £28). Bizarrely all were served on long, narrow plates and arranged sideways. Unusual, but it all still tasted great. The beef particularly good, cooked as god intended with a slightly pink hue. The gammon wonderfully thick and salty.



As ever the sweet tooth took over, so I ordered up a rather stunning Baked Rice Pudding with English Toffee, Hedgerow Jam & Sugar’d Skin (£8). Came in its own skillet, really looked and tasted the part. Loved the crunchy top. One went Baked Ginger Parkin with Rhubarb, Ripple Ice Cream, Hot Spiced Syrup (£8) whilst one went for the dramatically presented Mulled wine baba, yorkshire honey granola, glazed figs, mascarpone and goats curd cream, with lime (£8).

Rice pudding, mulled baba, parkin

The bill for four came in at just over £200. Possibly a touch weightier than a normal Sunday lunch? No doubt the extra is for the fine local produce and the famous locality and to be the fair there was plenty to go round. Either way we all agreed it had been a fabulous afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed. Will have to have a go at the Harome version….


The Star Inn The City
Lendal Engine House
Museum Street

T: 01904 619208

Email us: info@starinnthecity.co.uk

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


Burnt Truffle – Heswall, Wirral

“It’s above average so I reckon you should go”

The Flame and I finally kick-started our way over to the rather quaint little hamlet of Heswall on the Wirral.  Previously known as golfing territory for the scouse footballing hierarchy but now known as the locale of Head Chef, Gary Usher’s latest bistroette ‘Burnt Truffle’. Burnt is the younger sister of the now infamous ‘Sticky Walnut’ of Hoole (reviewed here). Burnt also has some significant media history in that it bagged hundred grands worth of Kickstarter crowdfunding in record time.


We were greeted by young Emma one of several, very pleasant, aproned up helpers and whisked up stairs to our blonde table for two. I was mildly disappointed* that the red Formica topped tables; a relic from a previous eatery had been jettisoned! It was all dead smart now. On trend chalky blue walls and soft comfy seats.


As I had already stumped up a fifty note pledge to get the gaff up and running we presented our voucher. This quickly turned into two glasses of very welcome fizz. A cracking start. Seconds later, oil soaked sourdough with truffle infused butter. Oh my lord. The Sunday lunch menu running from 12 – 2.30 was up next. Just up my street. Single sheet of crisp A4. Four starters, four mains, four desserts and some trimmings. £18 for two of ‘em, £22 for three. Boom, what else do you need?


The two starts were superb. Flamed mozzarella with beetroot, raisin and pine nut dressing. I’ve never had flamed cheese before but it needs to be had again. Looked pretty as a picture too, unlike my image which is blurred!

I had the sea bream, pickled mooli, with samphire, courgette and basil. What a stunning little offering this was. The flavours were still resonant** hours later. Never a fan of pickles but I’m getting there, and when placed with the hot fish it was indeed a thing of real beauty.


I went fairly trad for the main. Roast beef, carrot puree, green beans, red cabbage, spuds and Yorkshire coupled with a side of honey roasted carrots. Beef pink, veg hot and seasoned, carrots historic. Perfection.

The flame loves chicken and endlessly complains when it’s not on as a choice. Here it’s done many ways. Moussed and truffled, poached and rolled, with pancetta, fat potato, shitake mushroom and caramelised onion. I managed to purloin the odd forkful before it was eagerly devoured. Total ‘chickeny’ heaven.

Chicken, roast beef, carrots and a jokey truffle!

Sweetie bits to finish, and it’s all as good as the first two. Orange and almond sponge with butterscotch and quenelle of crème fraiche. Topped with fruit The Flame was in raptures. Piping hot, moist, sweet, sticky, you name it, it was all here. I had one of my favourite sweetie bits of all time, lemon curd with blackberry and apple. It came in a freezing glass complete with a cigar of marshmallow, crisps of coconut meringue and a few other ‘textury’ bits. All totally historic.


Couple of strong, dark coffees and we were done. Three sublime courses, all perfection. Another aspect we both felt was just right, was portion size. Morsels of quality rather than quantity. We were pleasantly satsiated as we biffed off for a pleasant stroll down nearby Parkgate prom. And its look out Chorlton, latest sibling Hispi is waiting in the wings. Eyes peeled to help get this one going.


So if it’s Burnt, Sticky or gone a bit Hispi you can’t go wrong. This Usher chap and his team have got the bistro business sorted. Get there pronto.

*I wasn’t really
**Nicked from Marina O’Loughlin


Burnt Truffle
CH60 0AQ

0151 342 1111


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

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

TNQ – Northern Quarter Manchester

“Another good feed in Manchester. Nice view too….”

Every once in a while The Flame and I entertain a rather super Yorkshire couplet. A touch of jovial rivalry ensues. We take them to a Lancastrian offer whilst they treat us to a Yorkshire trek. See here for previous encounters! It was our turn this cold, blustery Sunday in June. We met in a (fairly) central location…Manchester! I decided to stick to the Northern Quarter end.

First stop (the now famous?) Port Street Beer House. We take a fine window table on the first floor. A pint of Bread and Butter! settles the nerves, the conversation flows. Next stop Ply. Charlie is impressed by the ale and the plain wooden furniture. It’s all going well. Three o clock dawns and we hit our preordained slot in TNQ. It’s been ‘on the list’ for some time now.

menu, whitebait
menu, whitebait

We enter the smart, green corner plot and nestle into our superb table for four. Right in the corner by the big front window. A fine view of the old Smithfield Market façade. The Yorkshire folk are chuffed. Charlie is quite particular about his table. We all issue a sigh of relief. It’s a great table set in a simple room. Green dominates outside and in. Simple wooden furniture keeps us and our plates off the floor. A nice IPA and some red wine have us purring, we flit down the simple Sunday roast menu. The menu is set out beautifully; its rear side boasts its local provenance. There’s plenty to go at for a quick Sunday menu and we all soon know what to have. Its good value too £16.95 for three courses.

squid, salad, soup
squid, salad, soup

The Yorkshire contingient went fishy for starts. One went White bait with a cheeky, chilli and paprika mayonnaise, the other salt and pepper squid, which arrived with a noodle salad and a chilli and lime dressing.
The Flame went for the healthy beetroot and goats cheese salad whilst I go very safe and play with the asparagus veloute. It all looks well and the report card from all has a big tick on it. My soup boasts a quails egg. I think there was one somewhere but it was severely deformed and didn’t have a yolk. The soups was good though, very nice.

One half of the Lancashire and Yorkshire contingent went chicken pie whilst the other went traditional roast. I say chicken pie, it should more accurately read goosnargh chicken with wild mushroom pie. It came with some super chips. The pie had a puff pastry lid. Lifting up revealed a big tasty filling packed with chicken and flavour. I’m sure there was some tarragon in there during my customary mouthful. Wonderful stuff.

Goosnargh chicken pie
Goosnargh chicken pie

Such is my lust for conversation and all round bonhomie I’m half way through my roast before noticing that my freshly ordered pink Cheshire lamb is in fact a few good slices of medium Cheshire beef! Feeling a little perturbed I plough on. My fellow roast compatriot goes for a sensational looking ‘Barry Pughs suckling pig’. It’s a decent roast, no danger.

decent roast, salted cheescake
decent roast, salted cheescake

Whilst all around pale and quake, The Cooktwit presses on. A salted chocolate and honeycomb cheesecake with pistachio sauce rounds off a very pleasing luncheon. We all agree the Lancashire bar has been set high once again. It’s up to Leeds next time! I might have lamb next time…

108 High Street,
Manchester M4 1HQ
0161 832 7115

The Plough Inn – Croft (nr Warrington)

STOP PRESS- I think this has shut down now 23/10/17

“Sorry everyone but I’ve found another great place to eat”


The Plough Inn at Croft, like many pubs of late has had its ups and downs. Many years ago I recall it being a fairly standard local pub. Frequented often by its local rural crowd, it did what many pubs of the time did; serve half decent ale and a decent pie and chips when called upon. As we know many pubs, particularly rural ones, have either gone to the wall or effectively become restaurants or ‘gastropubs’. I have already ventured to and regaled about many fine specimens throughout the North West. See list below!* This latest one has the distinct advantage of being walkable from my home town of Newton-le-Willows. It’s a good walk mind, about four and half miles, so it’s a summer stroll or a winters Sunday. But boy on this evidence it’s worth it and its going on the list.


The Plough has succumbed on and off to periods of neglect, however it seems a hefty dose of love and affection has been awarded to its period frame. A splash of paint on the outside has freshened its gills, a lick inside has set its heart alight. It still needs a bit doing inside I fancy to fully compete with the esteemed list below, but without doubt the raw materials are all present and correct. Timber beams, an open fire, dark wooden fittings. It will do nicely.


The sun was streaming through on this Sunday binge, the place almost empty. The Flame flitted between several tables before selecting a suitable spot. A Deuchars IPA, one of three real ales, soon had me purring. The comprehensive menu soon added to my contentment. In fact there were two menus. The standard Sunday offering and the Sunday lunch. I selected from the Sunday lunch at £17.95 for three courses.

The Flame started with what one would consider to be a fairly unadventurous choice. The soup of the day (£4.95). However, even it was presented with a good level of panache. Tomato and basil arrived on its own podium of timber and featured a decent swoosh of cream, herbs and breaded elements. It tasted good as well. I had the ‘Ham hock terrine’. This was as good as a starter as I’ve had in a long time. The terrine was housed in a tubular ‘kilner’ jar. The hock itself was coarse, meaty and splendidly choice in flavour. The accompaniments of homemade piccalilli, toasted bread, salad and various drops of dressing and shoots all added to the general appeal. Excellent stuff.

Soup & ham hock terrine
Soup & ham hock terrine

As it was a Sunday, my mains took on the familiar look of a traditional roast. Would have preferred a pink, topside but the slow cooked brisket went a good way towards making up the deficit. There was lots of it too. Combined with the standard, well-cooked accoutrements it was most agreeable. The Flame piped in with a chicken and leek pie (£9.95). Arriving in its own skillet on a board it looked a picture, particularly alongside its pot of crisp, hot, salted and skin on potato wedges. They alone were a triumph. The pie was chunked full of chicken, writhing in a rich sea of herby, leeky goodness. Good stuff.

Chicken & leek pie, Brisket roast
Chicken & leek pie, Brisket roast

As ever, for research purposes, I had to test out a dessert. And crikey, in trooped a memorable effort. Apple and granola crumble with custard. Arriving in its own earthenware pot, set on a slate it came with a riot of coulis, kumquats and a boat of hot, vanillary loveliness. Truly special.

Apple & granola crumble
Apple & granola crumble

By the time I was dousing the dessert down with the final slurp of IPA the place had filled up. It would seem you would have to book for a mid-afternoon slot on a Sunday. I wouldn’t hang about, when word gets around this could become a serious stopping point. Cheshire has another belter to go at.

*Parker Arms, Nags Head, Assheton Arms, Hearth of the Ram, The Old Sessions, The Church Green, The Three Fishes to name but a few!

The Plough Inn,
Heath Lane, Croft, Warrington, Cheshire WA3 7DS
01925 766001