Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Green Man - Inglewhite

Our visit to the Green Man was brief but enjoyable. We were passing through the Lancashire Cheese Zone of Bowland and happened upon the pub, which has a very good reputation, and stopped in for a quick pint.

It looks as though the pub has been refurbished fairly recently, and it looks spotless. The service was friendly and the beer selection was good - some real ales I'd not tried before! The menu was impressive and very good value, and I liked the fact that you could get a bacon bap for just £2 if you were in need of a late breakfast. There were lots of home-made cakes on sale too, which showed the owners enjoyed cooking.

So, just a quick visit, but very good first impressions!

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Parkers Arms - Newton in Bowland

Why so long before posting a review of my favourite foodie pub? Lack of a photograph - I must have been so eager to get inside and order that I've neglected to get a snap of the pub. Anyway, that was sorted out and here we go.

Up until a couple of years ago, The Parkers Arms was an ok pub in a fantastic location. Fine for a quick pint and a sandwich if passing, but not worth a special trip due to its very rural location. It was then taken over by the owners of Weezos, who'd very quickly built up an excellent reputation in nearby Clitheroe. Fast-forward through a long period of refurbishment, and we have a pub that looks great, is in a lovely location, very friendly owners, and some of the best food you'll ever be served in a pub.

The food is the big draw at The Parkers Arms. I've yet to be served anything that wasn't top notch, and my only complaint is with the ever-changing menu, my latest favourite dish goes off the menu and I have to try something else. No great trial! Particular favourites have been the game pie, Lancashire hot pot, seafood sharing plate and the ploughmans lunch. I know - these just sound like bog-standard pub-grub, but the amount of care and detail put into them elevate these pub staples into outstanding meals. Virtually everthing is sourced locally, and very fresh. Sometimes this means things go off the menu, but this is much preferable to the usual pub practice of having a large freezer, an oven and a microwave.

This isn't a place to go if you're impatient - the food is cooked to order and during busy periods it may take a bit of time if you've ordered one of the more complicated dishes. My advice is to chill out, enjoy a Bowland Ale, and take pleasure in the food when it arrives. Those who do will be richly rewarded.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Black Bull - Old Langho

 Here's a pub that was completely off my radar until I noticed a pub symbol on the ordnance survey map I'd had made that was centred on my postcode. Not only was there a pub in the Ribble Valley that I wasn't aware of, it was in walking distance!

Obviously I had to check the place out and duly put on my walking boots and set off towards the Black Bull. It's located in "Old Langho", not to be confused with "Langho", which is a few miles up the road. It's actually closer to Brockhall Village.

What I found was an old country inn situated on its own along a quiet road a short walk from the Ribble. I only stopped for a couple of pints, so can't comment on the food quality, but it semed tobe pretty good value for the area.  What I did enjoy was sitting at the bar and having a chat about the pub with the staff, who were very friendly and welcoming. It turned out that the bulk of the customers came from the aforementioned Brockhall Village (A gated community where Blackburn Rovers training ground is located).  I could easily have stayed the afternoon if it wasn't for the thought of the long walk back.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

In respose to my last post? Some good news.

I was pleasantly surprised to find The Station in Clitheroe closed for refurbishment just a few weeks after my last post. Perhaps someone from Thwaites occasionally reads this blog? This is great news as The Station has the potential to be a landmark pub in town.

Other good news is that The Castle has re-opened, as seems to have had a thorough scrub and polish. Not really my pint of lager, but all pubs help the vibrancy of a town if run well.

Finally, The Parkers Arms in Newton in Bowland has finished off its refurbishment, and is currently serving some of the best pub food in the country. Much more to follow about this cracking pub.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Station, Clitheroe

I'm loathe to give a pub a less than stellar review, but The Station is one pub where I've never left feeling anything but glad that I'm off to somewhere else in town. It's location near the railway station (of course!) lends itself as a good place to kick off a night on the town, and as a consequence, I've been there many more times that I would do under my own steam.

It's difficult to put my finger on why I'm not keen, after all, it's in a classic pub building in my favourite town. Well, the beers are at the less adventurous side of the Thwaites range, and they appear to sell more lager here than bitter. I usually opt for the mild, which is served well. It's not an unfriendly place, but it can be very quiet at times.

My guess why I'm not keen is that the subdued lighting would go well if they had retained the original decor, but combined with an ill-judged refit some decades ago give it an feeling of gloom. It's a shame, as it's not far from being a good pub. Perhaps Thwaites will see fit to do it up a bit and give it the life it needs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Coach and Horses, Bolton by Bowland

The Coach and Horses looks like a solid coaching Inn from the outside, but it's something quite different when you walk in. Check out their website
to see what I mean.

"Woah, I just want a pint and a bite to eat", I hear you say. Well, you'll be very pleasantly surprised at the Coach and Horses as they stock excellent beer (Bowland Brewery & Copper Dragon) and the food is some of the best we've had in a pub. The first time we ate there, we went straight back the next week and it was just as good. All the dishes we had were excellent, which is something that can't be said of the Three Fishes. (A little too random there - see previous review).

It's a very friendly place too and we were impressed by the fact that you could just nip in and get takeaway fish/chips if you were in a hurry. Somehow the owners seem to have pulled of the spectacularly difficult trick of combining a proper local that serves the community with an upscale eating place that doesn't cost anywhere near what it should do.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Bay Horse, Barrow (Near Clitheroe)

Just outside Clitheroe lies the tiny village of Barrow, hidden away from the A59. Built mainly along the road that connects Clitheroe with Whalley, it's the sort of place you could easily drive through in your hurry to get somewhere else. Leaving aside the quietly excellent Chinese and Itlian restaurants, Barrow is well worth popping into just to have a pint at the Bay Horse.

This to me is what a real Lancashire pub should be like - one that hasn't really changed too much over the years. It's worth just nipping in for a pint of their superb mild, which is as good as any I've ever tasted. As you sup your pint, take a look at the area behind the bar which has managed to survive passing fads and looks much like it did when it was originally installed.

It's a very friendly place too. We were once there fairly early on on a Sunday, and were delighted to be given a piece of home-made cake from one of the regulars!

Tough days for pubs in the Ribble Valley

* Edit - Jan 2011 - At the time of writing, The Freemason's Arms, The Castle, and The Edisford Bridge have all re-opened and are hopefully doing well. I'll keep this post as a historical record of how the 2009 recession hit pubs hard.

It's my sad duty to re-start the blog with some pretty dismal news about pub closures in the Ribble Valley. The Craven Heiffer in Chaigley, The Freemasons Arms at Wiswell, The Castle at Clitheroe, The Bridge Inn Clitheroe, and the Edisford Bridge also in Clitheroe are all currently shut.

I'm particularly saddened by the closure of the Craven Heiffer as it had quickly become my favourite place to eat in the Ribble Valley. The food there was exceptional and it always felt like you were visiting old friends when you popped in.
The Freemasons had also turned a corner. My review on this blog criticized the unfriendly owners, but it was sold on to new proprietors who had turned it into a much more welcoming pub.
The Castle & the Edisford Bridge appear to be the victims of PubCos - venture capitalist funded companies who buy up pubs and milk them for all they are worth. Pub managers are often bullied and charged exorbitant rents and costs. These managers don't last long, hence all the signs you see about saying "You can run THIS pub!" If you see such a sign, just keep walking.
Anyway, the reasons for pubs going under are many - the smoking ban, the wider economy, the rise in home-drinking, PubCos etc etc; so all I can say is support your local pub. Instead of downing a bottle of red at home, go out and have a couple of pints of good real ale in a pub that knows how to serve it. Your money will have helped keep a real British institution open rather than have it go into the ether that is the big supermarkets' overflowing bank accounts.