Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Highwayman Inn - Stand and deliver !

                                     Highwayman Inn

Yesterday saw our long awaited visit to the Highwayman Inn at Nether Burrow, near Kirby Lonsdale. We have now visited all but one of the Ribble Valley Inns, the gastro pub chain owned by Michelin starred chef Nigel Haworth.

Surrounded by stunning countryside the Highwaymann is just outside Kirby Lonsdale, situated on the borders of the three counties of Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire.The establishment is pretty easy to find, has car parking right outdoor the door and an outdoor eating area for summertime. Our welcome was warm and we were pleased to see that the fires were lit and dancing in the grates when we arrived, we were sat in the friendly hunting lodge style dining area in large cosy chairs ready to peruse the locally focused menu.


This being a Thwaites house Mr LF plumped for his favourite Wainwright and I ordered a Dandelion and burdock another favourite as the driver of the party. The pub has recently been the subject to a mini refurbishment and also recently had a new chef appointed to lead the team, Jason "Bruno" Birkbeck who has an excellent pedigree in the kitchen and is a local lad too, you may have seen him on Great British menu a couple of years ago.


The main menu features many Ribble Valley Inn classics, however we would point out that we found the specials menu a bit confusing (and we weren't the only ones !) as Mr LF really fancied the Hotpot but was disappointed to find it wasn't on the menu (or so we thought) and missed it on the specials as the menu wasn't divided into starters, mains and desserts. In fact we only found out it was on the menu after we had ordered when we heard two elderly gentlemen asking why the hotpot wasn't on the menu and a member of staff pointing it out on the specials. Minor point but a tad confusing.

So after perusing the menu we plumped for the classic nibbles knowing that the portions are generous in Ribble Valley Inn's, Ascrofts cauliflower fritters an old favourite which is served with curry mayonnaise and the homemade bread, rapeseed oil and treacle vinegar.

The fritters were delicious as expected, crispy light with a tender cauliflower floret in the middle and the curry mayonnaise with just the right amount of spicy punch to cut through the fritter.

The bread, oil and vinegar was acceptable, we did find the sliced white and wholemeal bread a little tasteless and pappy but enjoyed the rosemary and sea salt roll, the treacle vinegar was the standout part of this dish and is an idea I am going to be trying to replicate at home. The vinegar has a lovely tang and is great combined with the nutty rapeseed oil. 

So onto our mains, I chose the braised shoulder of Kitridding lamb, herb oatcake crust, root vegetables, potato pressing and confit swede and  Mr LF chose Steak and kidney pie, roasted root vegetables with real chips.

A delicious well balanced dish, I particularly liked the addition of the spiky aromatic red cabbage (Nigel Howarths signature red cabbage no less) which cuts through the richness of the lamb shoulder, the dish was well flavoured and the confit swede was lovely and gave a sweet savoury note.

As you know Mr LF is a pie connoisseur and nothing disappoints him more than when a pie is not a pie, he likes a pie with sides, so he was a little down heartened when his "pie " arrived as it was a pastry topped pot, the pastry however was good, nice and short with a little flake and well matched to the filling inside. The steak and kidney filling was tender and the gravy well flavoured if a little on the thin side. In fact a member of staff supplied him with a spoon so he could scoop the gravy out of the pot. His chips were pronounced as good but the roasted vegetables better. 

Desserts, I ordered the intriguing Sheep dip creme brulee, shortbread and Autumn berry compote and Mr LF plumped for the Forest Fruit cheesecake with pouring cream.

A lovely tasty dessert with just the right amount of crunchy topping, the shortbread was buttery and crumbly and the perfect contrast to the creamy creme brulee.

Forest Fruit Cheesecake, whats not to like, pronounced delicious by Mr LF, fruity yet creamy with a sharper berry top to cut the richness.

So all in all a good meal, the food was tasty and well made and presented, just a couple of minor niggles, but really all in all the same standard we have come to expect from Ribble Valley Inns. The staff were warm, friendly and attentive.

Our only other comments would that despite the recent refurbishment we did note a couple minor issues such as in the loos missing temperature buttons on taps, missing plugs and worn soap bottles. Very minor niggles but not something I have seen in other RV inns, this definitely won't stop us recommending a visit as the food is very good, reasonably priced and above all seasonal and local. 

The surrounding countryside is beautiful and you are well placed to visit the local attractions. So make sure you call in when in the area.

Our meal was provided on a complimentary basis but we were not compelled to provide a positive review and all thoughts and opinions are our own.

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