A traditional 18th Century Inn, The Assheton Arms in the historic, untouched conservation village of Downham near Clitheroe, is a charming Grade II listed pub with views over the Ribble Valley to Pendle Hill.
As part of the Seafood Pub Company (operated by Joycelyn Neve of the famous Neve fishing family from Fleetwood), there is an obvious emphasis on serving quality seafood but the menu also has plenty of options for meat lovers and veggies alike. I went fishy:
Pickled cockles in spiced vinegar – for just £1.50 you can’t not order a bowl of cockles. I asked on Twitter earlier for a better way of describing cockles other than ‘plump’… we came up with ‘cuddlesome’ and the Yiddish phrase ‘zaftig’ – both seem fitting. My one niggle being a little too much sweetness in the vinegar for my palate.
Devilled whitebait, kimchi mayonnaise – as tasty as these were, I’m a little annoyed with myself for ordering whitebait without first checking with the Marine Conservation Society website. A year or so ago in a post about the Pheasant Inn (see here) I vowed not to eat them until they had been removed from the ‘fish to be avoided’ list and their status had been lowered from 5 (the lowest sustainability rating). The waiter assured me that they were ‘sustainable’ but I should have checked for my own peace of mind.
Assheton Arm’s hand sliced smoked salmon, watercress, lemon & cracked pepper – beautifully smoked salmon, produced onsite in their smokehouse using a blend of cherry and mesquite smoke. Perfect smokiness for me; the flavours were prominent without overpowering.
Whole lemon sole, cockle butter, samphire & new potatoes – this dish was a real joy. A quick search on my blog shows that I’ve eaten a fair bit of lemon sole over the past couple of years but I can’t recall when or where I last had one served so delightfully in the classical way (although when ordering a ‘whole’ fish, I expect the head to be on). Real punchy flavours from the rich, herby clam butter.
Pineapple upside down cake with golden syrup and proper custard – a good ending to the meal. It as light enough to be suitable for a summer’s day but still had those comforting flavours of a proper homely dessert.
I’d definitely return to The Assheton Arms and am keen to try the Seafood Pub Company’s other places.