This week we were fortunate enough to be invited to the Freemason Arms at Wiswell 5th Annual Game week celebrations.
Our evening was the Great British Menu night where two North West chefs were to compete to be the champion for the Region for the night. Our featured chefs, Mary Ellen McTague (Aumbry) and Chris Holland (Alderley Edge Hotel) have both previously competed on the Great British menu for real, so along we went to this cute country inn feeling like Prue Leith and Mathew Fort for the night.
The Freemasons Arms in situated in a cute village in the Ribble Valley and has the perfect blend of pub with high end restaurant food, calm, comforting and relaxing interiors blend seemlessly with beautiful food.
Our menu for the evening as appropriate for Game Week featured Hare, Deer, Mallard and Pheasant and seasonal vegetables and flavours. All diners were provided with voting slips for us to chose our favourite dish from each course, just like on the tv show and of course we had no idea which chef had createdw hich dish. Not having eaten at either chefs restaurant we weren't familiar with either chef's body of work and signature style, so we had no preconceived ideas of what to expect.
Onto our delicious menu, our welcome canape was a dinky little "hotdog" made of foie gras rolled in a coating and served in a lovely white roll with sauce and mustard, no picture I am afraid as they disappeared before I even had chance to grab a photo, they were delicious.
Hare Consomme vs Surf and Turf
We found the smoked roe deer tartar disappointing as we couldn't detect any smoke in the flavour and despite being a well balanced tartar the meat could have been anything. The langoustine on the other hand was well flavoured and autumnally complemented by the cinnamon sauce.
Winner - Surf and Turf - Chris Holland
Duck and Rosehip vs Pheasant Pie
Tender juicy slow roasted mallard with the rosehip wine syrup providing a delicious sweet and unusual sauce for the dish, roasted cabbage and a crunchy artichoke and sage crumb contrasting with the soft meat and the baked salsify was very savoury and tasty. Mr Lancashire Food's vote was won.
Buttery crisp pastry encasing a little pheasant and comforting savoy cabbage, chestnuts and bacon, moist pheasant fillet with a tasty gravy and celeriac puree. This one got my vote mainly due to the "pie" and the comfort food factor.
Winner - Pheasant Pie - Mary Ellen McTague
Pumpkin and Parkin vs Beetroot & Chocolate Cakes
This is where things started to get really interesting as we both love desserts, the perfect dish in our humble opinion, the sweet hum of nutmeg marrying beautifully with the parkin crumble and slightly sharp honeyed and oranged pumpkin, our only disappointment no popcorn in the ice cream could be found.
Moist dense chocolate cake and the most amazing hazelnut ice cream were our favourite elements of this dish, the beetroot mousse cake was very attractive in colour but lacked any real flavour for us and also the toffee and bee pollen were hard to detect in the dish.
Winner - Pumpkin and Parkin - Chris Holland
So our overall winner was Chris Holland, on a couple of courses it was a close run thing particularly the Pheasant Pie which divided our table. We really enjoyed our evening at the Freemason Arms and were delighted to meet foodie friends we have made through facebook and twitter. After service, the chefs Mary and Chris along with Steven Smith mingled with diners chatting about their food and how excited they were to be cooking for us. The diners were the winners on the night experiencing classic British courses from these talented chefs.
If you fancy visiting the Freemason Arms then all their contact details are here.
Here is an earlier blog post of a visit to The Freemason Arms
We were kindly invited to attend this event on a complimentary basis, no payment was made for this blog post or a blog post requested as a condition of attendance. All the comments are my own opinion.