Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Freemasons at Wiswell, Lancashire

Freemasons at Wiswell is one of the restaurants that I have been intending to get around to visiting for ages! It has a great local reputation and is a favourite of my pal Carl Housbey who writes the Gastrograzer blog (see here).

The holder of a Michelin ‘Bob Gourmand’ their entry in the Red Guide reads, ‘Delightful pub, hidden away on a narrow lane. Flag floors, low beams and open fires downstairs; elegant, antique-furnished dining rooms upstairs. Interesting menu features modern versions of traditional pub dishes. Skillful cooking, with clear flavours. Charming service.’

There are no tricks or gimmicks here – the food is simple, clean and flavoursome. Good quality, seasonal ingredients at their best. 

I’m not going to write about each individual dish – for us there was no one stand out dish (perhaps the lamb); everything was cooked and seasoned to perfection and beautifully presented. Well worth the hour’s drive up from Cheshire.

Line Caught Mackerel – on toast with gooseberry and elderflower chutney.

Nidderdale Lamb – slow cooked belly, chargrilled aubergine, yoghurt and mint.

Wester Ross Organic Salmon – roast lion, whipped jersey royals, wild sorrel velouté.

Nidderdale 35 Day Aged Beef Rib Eye – with duck fat chips, onion rings and peppercorn sauce.

English Rose Veal – slow cooked top side, French style peas, morel sauce.

Roast Sirloin of Aged Beef – Yorkshire Pudding, duck fat potatoes, cauliflower beef, roast beef juices.

Eton Mess – English strawberry, chocolate macaron, raspberry ice cream.

Michel Cluziel – chocolate, mint and passion fruit.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Parkers Arms, Lancashire

Over the past few years Chef Stosie Madi, Kathy, AJ and the team at Parkers Arms have been building up a loyal local following and solid reputation for their locally sourced food and welcoming hospitality.

During the last twelve months or so, news of the excellent food to be had at the Parkers Arms has started to spread wider across the region and had been gaining national attention with listings in The’s Independents 50 Best Country Pubs and The Sunday Times Food List and a top score for food in Hardens.

An award at the “Chef’s Oscars” from The Craft Guild of Chefs as the WINNER of Pub Restaurant Chef for 2013 is the most recent, well deserved accolade come Stosie’s way. (Previous winners include Great British Menu’s Tim Bilton and the Michelin starred Tom Kerridge and Dominic Chapman.)

In the area for lunch at Freemasons as Wiswell, I could not resist the opportunity of calling in at Parkers Arms to congratulate Stosie on her recent success and, or course, to sample a couple of light bites.

The sun was shining, so we decided to take advantage of the beer garden and magnificent views across the Trough of Bowland (otherwise known as Stosie’s larder) where we enjoyed three delightful dishes:

Smoked Parkers Curd Cheese, Parkers herb garden fattoush and treacle bread – the in house made cheese had a wonderful freshness and the subtlest of smokings but it was the mint in the fattoush and sundried tomatoes that added such a lovely summery lift.

Home-cured Wild Salmon with local horseradish, a soused cucumber salad and fresh, dried and jellied gooseberries – a beautiful and vibrant dish in terms of colours and flavours, especially from the delightfully tart fresh gooseberry halves.

Local Estate Venison Carpaccio with damsons and damson jelly – the meat with its black peppercorn crust was simply sublime.

We hope to head back over soon for a full on Parkers Arms feast! 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Almost Famous, Liverpool

With their “No bloggers” attitude (an obvs red rag to a bull) Almost Famous Manchester and I, did not really get off on the right foot.

Time has passed since then and attitudes have changed. The opening of their ‘Calexian’ Lust, Luck, Liquor & Burn also played its part in winning me over.

Now, it just so happened that Franco (the brains behind Almost Famous’ Manchester ‘rivals’ SoLiTa) and I were in ‘The Pool’ (at Camp & Furnace) on the night of AF’s Liverpool launch… it would have been rude not to have paid them a visit.

By the time we arrived, the party was in full swing. Word had obviously got out that the now famous “dirty burgers” and “bitch juice” cocktails had made their way along the M62.

"Manchester's Burger Kings" Franco & Beau
Owner, the hospitable Beau, who was buzzing and boasting, “Burgers get you ripped!”, seemed pleased to see some friendly Manchester faces. Soon, “Burger Kings” Franco and Beau were downing shots of Honey J.D and burying the hatchet over their banterous Twitter spats.

I was soon enjoying a Famous Burger… and a River Phoenix Burger. The burgers are real chin dribblers… personally, I’d prefer the patties to be a little thicker with a pink middle but the overall effect its still all good - perfect drinking food (had I not been driving!).

The décor and venue which included life size cows, Hello Kitty wall art, neon and oil drum tables, worked for me too. There was a good vibe and the door staff were friendly. 

We found a comfy Chesterfield to sit on and loaded the Jukebox with Hendrix, The Clash and, of course, The Stone Roses to add a little touch of home… we then loaded our faces with some loaded Chilli Cheese Fries, which had a decent kick.

A great night… (which bizarrely ended up with Franco and I ‘kidnapping’ Beau and taking him back to Camp and Furnace for ‘Rockaoke’)… get yourself along before the queues start reaching all the way to the famous Liverpool docks, well almost. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Camp and Furnace, Liverpool

First of all, Liverpool’s Camp and Furnace is not a ‘restaurant’… nor is it a bistro, a brasserie, a café or other some such eatery that you will have encountered before.

In their own words, Camp and Furnace is “a new kind of venue” – a super space which offers ‘art installations, exhibitions and performances; theatre, cabaret, comedy and music; street food, dinners, pop-ups and food slams; arts festival village; thrift and vintage.’ 

They also host various supper clubs with themes such as ‘fish’ and ‘vegetarian’ and do an amazing sounding Sunday roast. 

On my lunchtime visit, I chose from the small but keenly priced and well-balanced regular menu; and from the blackboard of daily specials. 

There was a relaxed festival vibe about the place… jamming, drumming, dancing, ping pong and pulled pork. I loved it and had a great time sitting there listening to, and watching the goings on.

Crispy Squid with Chorizo and Tomato – the squid was nicely done, a good texture with delightfully crispy batter. The chorizo had been ground down (to resemble mince) and, with the tomatoes, provided a incredible kick of Mediterranean flavour.

Pulled Pork with Boston Beans and Apple Slaw – delightfully sweet and smoky meaty chunks of pulled pork with a crisp, fresh slaw and ribbons of pickled carrot that added a welcome sour note to balance the sweetness of the pork. I’d normally carp at the use of the battered camping tin as a serving vessel but with the vintage caravans dotted about the place and the fireplace on hand it belonged.

Moroccan Lamb Salad with Fresh Chillies, Spring Onion and Yoghurt – it was a generous portion of lamb for the money paid (although I’d have liked the meat to have retained a little pinkness). Re. “Moroccan”, I felt the spices could have come through a little more or could have been buoyed with the addition of some preserved lemon.  That said, the heat from the fresh chillies and cooling yoghurt made it a pleasant dish.

Pictures from a previous breakfast visit (March).

“I’ll be back!”

Camp and Furnace on Urbanspoon

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