When I first moved from London to the North West, my wife was keen to show me the best the region had to offer. I soon fell in love with Manchester’s and Liverpool’s independent spirits, historic Chester and the splendid scenery of Cheshire, Lancashire and the Lake District.
With childhood visits with her Gramps still fondly remembered, Blackpool sadly remained one place she could not ‘sell to me’ – I found it trashy, grotty and, most notably, seemingly devoid of any good places to eat. So when I recently suggested a visit to the home of the ‘donkey lashers’, my wife was somewhat surprised.
The reason for my change of heart was discovering that the highly regarded Cartford Inn is just a 20 minute drive from the stag and hen filled ‘Golden Mile’.
What Michelin say: ‘17C coaching inn next to the Pilling Marshes, with a series of cosy little rooms; one overlooking the river. Cooking is in the tried-and-tested vein, offering proper pub classics, with signature dishes under the heading of 'Cartford Favourites'.’
With my wife cutting down on carbs ahead of our summer holiday, we decided to share a couple of starters which suited her diet along with some Queen scallops from the ‘nibbles’ section of the menu.
For ‘mains’, she selected another low carb starter – a sharing platter of cold antipasti, which were described as being “from our surrounding farmlands”. After much deliberating, I could not resist the lure of the classic Fish & chunky chips “fresh from Fleetwood Docklands”.
I’d planned to get an ice cream and a stick of rock when we reached Blackpool so we swerved dessert.
Queen scallops & pancetta with a prune, shallot & Armagnac relish – a great idea for a sharing dish on the “Nibbles” section of a menu… we devoured these in seconds!
Salmon tartare – with soused vegetables, crème fraiche, salmon roe & melba toast. A well put together dish, which ate as good as it looked.
Salad of Lytham farmed quail ballotine, truffle & tarragon mousse – crab apples, mixed leaves, quail egg, quail liver fritters, shallots & red wine dressing. This was a lovely dish, the quail liver fritters being a thing of particular beauty.
Wood platter of cold antipasti – air-cured Cumbrian ham, baked local ham, smoked duck breast, seasonal leaves, beetroot, carrots in lemon thyme, olives & piccalilli.
Fish & chunky chips – Marrowfat peas with homemade tartare sauce. “Jenga chips” are a real pet hate of mine - the decent tartare, mushy peas and excellent fish made their presence “forgivable”.
Blackpool remained trashy and grotty but a stop off at the Cartford Inn (and my bingo win) made the trip worthwhile.