The Fishermans Retreat

/ 13:09


Looking for somewhere special for our wedding anniversary meal, I hadn't heard of The Fishermans Retreat in Bury, but when it was recommended I gave it a look online and definitely liked the sound of it. Despite the name, it isn't a seafood restaurant but a restaurant showing off British quality cuisine, nestled in the rolling hills of Ramsbottom, where you keep thinking you're getting lost until you see the occasional sign popping out of the bushes telling you that you're nearly there.




As you park up, you see the wonderful surroundings of the place and hear the rush of a nearby strong stream. Very pleasant. You walk into the front doors and the first thing you see is a nice bit of provenance, showing the construction of the restaurant in 1992. I love things like this, it's nice to see people being proud of something they've put their passion into.You then pass by a large whisky bottle shop. Surprising, but a nice touch of class!



Greeted at the bar, we give our names as we made a reservation and we are taken through to the next room, which is a real dramatic first impression. You walk though a small arch and into an extremely large room with a gigantic window at the far end, looking out onto the rolling moors. It's definitely a "wow" moment. The room is quite modern and a touch on the stark side, but the view makes up for it. The furniture is large chunky modern wood, and generously seated so everyone has room.



We're seated and given our menu along with the day's specials. We order a couple of Diet Pepsi's, and have a nosy at the menu. The drinks take a while to appear, but I'm happy to say that two different members of staff came to update us about the situation (a problem with the pump), and gave us some water in the meantime. Service like this is what makes a potentially poor situation well handled and happily received.

We start by ordering the garlic bread, described as oven baked focaccia brushed with garlic butter and served with aged balsamic and duo of pesto. I'll get this part out of the way because this was the only underwhelming part of the experience. When it came out we were quite surprised at how small the garlic bread was considering it was listed as "to share" and was £8.00, and despite being a nice piece of bread, we couldn't actually taste much garlic or seasoning at all, which was a shame. However the pesto and balsamic worked perfectly with it and saved it a little.




For our mains, I ordered the beef wellington. I've never had beef wellington in a restaurant before and it seemed the perfect "special" choice. My partner ordered the steak and mushroom pie.

Both arrived very pleasantly presented. The quality here was superb. The pie was bursting with flavour, and the pastry was perfect. The chips were also just as crunchy and satisfying as you'd hope! The beef wellington was stunning. I was asked if I wanted it pink or cooked through... it's nice to be asked but if you're ordering beef wellington cooked through you might as well order a burger. The beef was pink and juicy, the mushrooms superbly flavourful, and although the pastry was a touch soft, it was still delicious. The part I actually enjoyed most however was the dauphinois potatoes, which was a brick of beautifully flavoured and seasoned layers. I enjoyed every last mouthful of it, and the dish as a whole was really excellent!




We were really impressed by the food, and so just had to order dessert! My partner opted for the sticky date pudding, and I opoted for the Baileys and white chocolate cheesecake, which they kindly allowed me to substitute chocolate ice cream for their cookies and cream ice cream as I'm not a big fan of chocolate ice cream.

Both came nicely presented but the cheesecake really did look special! The date pudding was rich and comforting, and the perfect way to round off the meal. The cheesecake was deceptively sized! It looked little but was a big portion, and was superbly creamy and tasty indeed, but the cookies and cream ice cream was actually superb, I really enjoyed it and could easily just have got three scoops of that!



Basically we loved our meal and our visit to The Fishermans Retreat. The venue itself has that one main large room, a couple of function rooms, and a very cosy and warm looking bar. The one detail I found odd was that the ladies toilets were a door just off the main room, but the gents are actually out of the room, through the bar, down a corridor, and by the front door... very odd! More than once we saw blokes going to what they assumed was the gents toilet in the next door along, only to wander into a cloakroom and be quickly chased by a member of staff directing them the right way. The service is friendly and professional, but we did on occasion find it hard to get the attention of some of the staff, despite there being quite a few around, but when we did, they were happy to help and very professional. One detail I saw which struck me as superbly professional was that I saw one member of staff put on a pair of latex gloves to get clean cutlery out of a draw and delicately place them onto napkins ready for the tables. He wasn't doing this to be seen, this was just good practice. Superb.

We will definitely return. Especially as before we left, a lovely friendly member of staff told us about special deals on certain evenings and some great options. We had a great time :)











Looking for somewhere special for our wedding anniversary meal, I hadn't heard of The Fishermans Retreat in Bury, but when it was recommended I gave it a look online and definitely liked the sound of it. Despite the name, it isn't a seafood restaurant but a restaurant showing off British quality cuisine, nestled in the rolling hills of Ramsbottom, where you keep thinking you're getting lost until you see the occasional sign popping out of the bushes telling you that you're nearly there.




As you park up, you see the wonderful surroundings of the place and hear the rush of a nearby strong stream. Very pleasant. You walk into the front doors and the first thing you see is a nice bit of provenance, showing the construction of the restaurant in 1992. I love things like this, it's nice to see people being proud of something they've put their passion into.You then pass by a large whisky bottle shop. Surprising, but a nice touch of class!



Greeted at the bar, we give our names as we made a reservation and we are taken through to the next room, which is a real dramatic first impression. You walk though a small arch and into an extremely large room with a gigantic window at the far end, looking out onto the rolling moors. It's definitely a "wow" moment. The room is quite modern and a touch on the stark side, but the view makes up for it. The furniture is large chunky modern wood, and generously seated so everyone has room.



We're seated and given our menu along with the day's specials. We order a couple of Diet Pepsi's, and have a nosy at the menu. The drinks take a while to appear, but I'm happy to say that two different members of staff came to update us about the situation (a problem with the pump), and gave us some water in the meantime. Service like this is what makes a potentially poor situation well handled and happily received.

We start by ordering the garlic bread, described as oven baked focaccia brushed with garlic butter and served with aged balsamic and duo of pesto. I'll get this part out of the way because this was the only underwhelming part of the experience. When it came out we were quite surprised at how small the garlic bread was considering it was listed as "to share" and was £8.00, and despite being a nice piece of bread, we couldn't actually taste much garlic or seasoning at all, which was a shame. However the pesto and balsamic worked perfectly with it and saved it a little.




For our mains, I ordered the beef wellington. I've never had beef wellington in a restaurant before and it seemed the perfect "special" choice. My partner ordered the steak and mushroom pie.

Both arrived very pleasantly presented. The quality here was superb. The pie was bursting with flavour, and the pastry was perfect. The chips were also just as crunchy and satisfying as you'd hope! The beef wellington was stunning. I was asked if I wanted it pink or cooked through... it's nice to be asked but if you're ordering beef wellington cooked through you might as well order a burger. The beef was pink and juicy, the mushrooms superbly flavourful, and although the pastry was a touch soft, it was still delicious. The part I actually enjoyed most however was the dauphinois potatoes, which was a brick of beautifully flavoured and seasoned layers. I enjoyed every last mouthful of it, and the dish as a whole was really excellent!




We were really impressed by the food, and so just had to order dessert! My partner opted for the sticky date pudding, and I opoted for the Baileys and white chocolate cheesecake, which they kindly allowed me to substitute chocolate ice cream for their cookies and cream ice cream as I'm not a big fan of chocolate ice cream.

Both came nicely presented but the cheesecake really did look special! The date pudding was rich and comforting, and the perfect way to round off the meal. The cheesecake was deceptively sized! It looked little but was a big portion, and was superbly creamy and tasty indeed, but the cookies and cream ice cream was actually superb, I really enjoyed it and could easily just have got three scoops of that!



Basically we loved our meal and our visit to The Fishermans Retreat. The venue itself has that one main large room, a couple of function rooms, and a very cosy and warm looking bar. The one detail I found odd was that the ladies toilets were a door just off the main room, but the gents are actually out of the room, through the bar, down a corridor, and by the front door... very odd! More than once we saw blokes going to what they assumed was the gents toilet in the next door along, only to wander into a cloakroom and be quickly chased by a member of staff directing them the right way. The service is friendly and professional, but we did on occasion find it hard to get the attention of some of the staff, despite there being quite a few around, but when we did, they were happy to help and very professional. One detail I saw which struck me as superbly professional was that I saw one member of staff put on a pair of latex gloves to get clean cutlery out of a draw and delicately place them onto napkins ready for the tables. He wasn't doing this to be seen, this was just good practice. Superb.

We will definitely return. Especially as before we left, a lovely friendly member of staff told us about special deals on certain evenings and some great options. We had a great time :)









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Stopping in Durham on our way home from Newcastle wasn't originally planned, but we're so glad we did. Not only is a it a beautiful and historic place to visit, but we had the good fortune to come upon Tealicious Tea Room, on Elvet Bridge.


Already busy as we entered even though it was within the last hour of opening that day, we were lucky enough to find a table, so we sat down and had a read of the menu. The decor is simple and classic, the perfect understated tea room. We read the menu and a friendly smiling staff member came over to take our order. We chose to go for a high tea for two, but were told that as it was near the end of the day, all of the scones had sold out (I'm not surprised), but instead offered us a toasted teacake, which was just as good if you ask me. For our tea I chose vanilla Earl Grey, and my partner chose the house blend.




The tea was brought first, and as expected, was of a superb quality, and very enjoyable indeed. Our high tea came not long after, and we were surprised, as we this high tea was presented on a traditional cake stand, more akin to a traditional Afternoon Tea. We most certainly did not complain!

The bottom tier started us with our sandwich choices, we chose roast ham on brown, and regional cheese and chutney, also on brown. These came with side sauces of a very tasty mustard mayonnaise, and the chutney mentioned, as well as some crisps.

The centre tier was taken up by two giant slabs of cake! Real big boy sizes! My partner chose a mixed berry cake, and although I was greatly tempted by a salted caramel cake, I opted for a lemon Victoria sponge.





The sandwiches were very enjoyable, and the cakes were absolutely delicious! Wonderfully moist and flavourful, but never becoming sickly or too much. The top tier for now simply had jam and cream on it, as our friendly member of staff told us just to give her a nod when we were ready for our toasted teacake, so we could still have it warm. I didn't get a photo of it, but it was huge, and wonderfully light and tasty.

We really enjoyed this impromptu little visit to Tealicious, and we appreciate that although they were busy and it was nearing closing, we never felt rushed or that we were a bother. The staff were friendly, polite, and helpful, and made us feel welcome.

Whenever we next venture to Durham, we will definitely be returning to Tealicious!

Tealicious

by on 23:11
Stopping in Durham on our way home from Newcastle wasn't originally planned, but we're so glad we did. Not only is a it a beautif...

I've never been to Newcastle before, so on a birthday city break we decided to visit and have an explore and see what the city has to offer, as well as to meet up with a couple of our friends. We wanted to pick somewhere we'd all enjoy for a meal and a chat, so The Purple Bear was chosen. I had trouble finding it at first (I don't know the city, and the GPS for my phone's maps seemed to be as confused as I was), but in the end we found the simple doorway and stairway down.



The venue feels more bar than restaurant, but it was fairly busy with a good atmosphere, with modern and industrial touches similar to what you'd find in Manchester's Northern Quarter I liked that for no discernible reason the big screen on the wall was playing classic Tom & Jerry cartoons! We found our friends and sat down to have a glance at the menu (they'd already picked because they'd been patiently waiting whilst we were blindly wandering around like Anneka Rice looking for the place).

The menu is fun, lots of bear themed puns and theming in a smokehouse inspired menu.



For our starters I ordered Mac & Cheese, and the waitress asked if I'd like bacon... well of course I would... bacon! So two of us chose that. The other two chose poutine, and jalapeno poppers.

The starters didn't take long to arrive. The Mac & Cheese started out well, with a fantastic panko crumb top, but then I got a different flavour come through... spice. I'm no good with spice, and it continued to build to the degree that I had to actually leave most of my starters. The other of our party who had it was fine with it though. I asked the waitress, she said that the sauce had jalapenos chopped into it, and the panko was spiced. As I was only asked about bacon, I assumed I was getting the classic mac and cheese from the menu, not the bacon & jalapeno starter, which I wouldn't have picked if I'd known she was offering it to me. That was a bit of a shame. The poutine was described as "awful" by our friend who ate it. The cheese was pretty coagulated, gluing all the fries together. You win some you lose some. The jalapeno poppers were deemed really tasty, and surprisingly creamy and cheesy, accompanied by a sour cream and chilli dip. Our friend who had those said he'd have them again.


We ordered soft drinks, and it was nice to be able to order root beer, which I love, but which isn't very loved here in the UK, but which added a good American flavour to the proceedings.

For our mains, I ordered the pastrami sandwich, the rest of our party ordered the pork burnt ends, the Mega Pulled Pork and Cheese burger and the cowboy chilli with sweet potato fries.



"It doesn't really say 'mega' to me" said our friend who had the "Mega Pulled Pork and Cheese Burger", to which I'd have to agree, it was pretty underwhelming looking and hadn't had much put into the presentation, also having slid over onto its side. He said taste wise it was "alright", but nothing special, especially for the price tag of £14.50.


I really enjoyed the pastrami sandwich. It was perfectly crisp and tender where it needed to be, with some excellent flavour. The fries were a bit basic and poured over with cheese sauce, which was quite tasty if not a bit globbed in one spot. I'd definitely get that again if I was visiting.


"Have they forgotten to burn the burnt ends?" said our friend who had the pork burnt ends. They were pretty basic looking and definitely not particularly burnt or charred it has to be said. He said they were really disappointing, more like cubes of pork belly that had been put under the grill for a bit, and thus too soft. He said they tasted ok but just like plain pork belly, no marinade or seasoning.


The Cowboy Chilli was deemed "tasty enough" but had no chilli on it at all, just some pulled pork!

We can only assume this was a particularly busy night for The Purple Bear, because our meals were pretty underwhelming without much love put into them, and the flavours were hit and miss, to the degree that we didn't bother with ordering dessert. The staff were competent but didn't really try to engage with us at all. Again, perhaps they were just really busy.

The group consensus was that the food at The Purple Bear was "alright", and that we might go in for lunch or something but probably wouldn't hurry back as it really wasn't anything special, which is unfortunate because it has real potential, and the menu and style seemed so appealing.

That's a shame. A bear shame. Get it? I'll see myself out.

Purple Bear

by on 16:31
I've never been to Newcastle before, so on a birthday city break we decided to visit and have an explore and see what the city has ...

When the signs first went up in Horwich for Empire, promising a cocktail bar and restaurant, there was an excited chatter amongst the residents. Although Empire opened at first just as a cocktail bar due to further planning being required for food, it is now a fully fledged bar and restaurant, and steadily gaining popularity and fans.

Situated next door to its partner venue, Avocado, on Chorley New Road, it comes alive at night when Avocado goes to sleep, and is bathed in theatrical lighting and flame heaters outside in the darkness. The main issue if you don't know Horwich is a lack of parking, but there is street parking around the place, and a small car park behind it.


The vibe when you get inside is more akin to Manchester's Northern Quarter, complete with the current popular style of Industrial chic, with chunky furniture, filament light bulbs, leather booth seating and dark cosy lighting, whilst large framed photos of Audrey Hepburn, Prince, and Elvis Presley add to the American feel . The upstairs area is a dedicated bar, whereas downstairs is the restaurant, which looks every part as high quality as you'd find in Manchester. Nothing has been scrimped on here.



The menus and the specials menu are very tempting, and the offerings are more of a special decent meal rather than a quick "that'll do" style meal. Given the descriptions, they sounded like they would be quite substantial, so this time we chose to skip a starter in favour of leaving room for a dessert, but we couldn't QUITE turn it down altogether, so chose to share a garlic bread between us.


And I'm glad we did! What came out was a super fresh dough with semolina dusting, and a subtle but delicious garlic butter. Fresh bread. Not dry. Superb. It came on a big wooden board with a large pizza cutter, allowing us to slice as we felt free.

For our main, I couldn't resist the idea of the Empire cheeseburger with triple hand-cooked chips, whereas my partner opted for the home-made pie of the week, which was a steak and ale. Who could resist the idea of that?

Whilst we waited we chatted to the staff, who were friendly and professional, and as its Christmas at the time I write this, they were all in their Christmas jumpers, joining in with the festive spirit. It wasn't too long a wait before our food arrived.



There was a definite "wow" when our food was placed in front of us. It was beautifully presented, but still good and wholesome looking, making you want to tuck in straight away. So we did. The burger was huge, and I could barely fit it in my mouth! However, the meat itself was juicy and excellent quality, and superbly seasoned. It's often a shame when you get somewhere that does big burgers to find that the patty itself is bland, but that is definitely not the case with the Empire cheeseburger! The tasty cheese really complimented the flavour, and the mustard added a superb little kick of flavour without blowing my head off. The chips were perfect. I can't describe them anything more than that. Perfect. Exactly what good chips should be!

The pie had an excellent quality pastry, and the filling was absolutely spot on. It came with perfectly prepared seasonal vegetables and a tiny saucepan of gravy, which was jam packed with flavour and really finished the dish off.

I have to confess at this point that I couldn't finish the burger... nothing to do with quality or anything, it was just huge! Talk about getting your money's worth! We could probably have shared it!

Now, as we were still happily reeling at the quality of our mains, we decided to choose our desserts! I had my eye on the sticky toffee pudding since I first read it before I even ordered drinks, and my partner chose the mixed berry crumble with custard.



We didn't luck out on dessert after a great main... the desserts were sublime! The sticky toffee pudding was a beautifully deep flavoured sponge and moist as hell, with a lovely big scoop of ice cream on top, and sat in a puddle of sticky toffee sauce.. and once again, this portion was quite probably the biggest portion of sticky toffee pudding I've ever been given in a restaurant, and I've been to proper food pubs in Yorkshire!

The mixed berry crumble was excellently fruity and screaming with flavour, it also came with another tiny saucepan of truly wonderful custard, and a couple of pieces of shortbread.

Best way to end a meal. Really good filling food followed by a really amazing set of desserts. Price-wise, Empire may be a touch more than the average Horwich restaurant, but it's very well priced compared to places offering similar quality, and definitely better than those nearby chains offering a similar price for nowhere near as good an experience or quality.

Well done Empire, you're on my favourites list and we will be back!

Empire Bar and Restaurant
602 Chorley New Road
Horwich
Bolton
Greater Manchester
BL6 6EX
(01204) 584 816
www.empirehorwich.co.uk

Empire

by on 16:02
When the signs first went up in Horwich for Empire , promising a cocktail bar and restaurant, there was an excited chatter amongst the re...

I found The Black Horse by chance! My car broke down on Long Lane, on the way to Chorley, and so I took respite in the classic country looking inn and had a lovely lunch. Today I returned for dinner, having meant to come back for dinner ever since I enjoyed that first lunch visit by chance.

It's not new either. It's over 1000 years old. Yes you read that right.

The Black Horse is believed to be one of the oldest serving taverns in the country, and was the second pub in the country to be granted a license back in 1577. Every corner and beam exudes the feeling of a classic English pub/tavern. It's comfortable, cosy, and welcoming, with dark wooden furniture, a roaring fire, and warmly lit side rooms. It's everything you would want in a proper English pub. 




As I don't drink, we were here for dinner, and were greeted warmly and given menus. The staff are friendly and familiar, it's their business and their baby, and they want to make sure people enjoy their visit. 

The menu has recently been updated and has some fantastic sounding options, as well as periodical specials. On this occasion, we chose the starters of black pudding scotch egg, and garlic flatbread.



We were surprised. It's a pub, so you don't quite expect the artistic and pleasant presentation of the black pudding scotch egg, which was beautifully tempting to look at, and perfectly cooked with a lovely soft yolk. The mustard sauce was creamy with a gentle kick. The garlic flatbread was subtle on the garlic side, but lusciously buttery and fresh. The staff checked on us now and then to make sure everything was ok, even the chef herself at one point. Very enjoyable indeed. For our mains, we chose the cheese and onion pie, and the fish and chips, two classics of British pub food! The best bit? The chef came out and asked how I'd like the side of bread and butter cut with my fish and chips! We all know why too... preference... do you just want bread? Chip butties? It's all dependant on that cut! It was nice to be asked!



Both were again presented pleasantly. The pie was unctuously cheesy in a perfectly crispy pastry, not a soggy bottom in sight! The mash you could tell from the moment it was placed on the table was proper home made mash, and the comforting thick gravy provided was perfect for flooding the lot! Wonderful! The fish and chips were equally good. The mushy peas were nice, and the tartare sauce was particularly good, however my praise is mainly on the fish, which was outstanding! The quality of the fish alone was excellent, and the batter was crunchy, crispy, golden perfection! 

For dessert we chose the sticky toffee pudding (it's a classic!) and from the specials menu, the jam roly poly. Both with custard. We're Northern.



The sticky toffee pudding was deliciously rich whilst being super light and fluffy! The smell of the jam roly poly slapped in the face as soon as it arrived, whisking me back to nostalgic childhood sunday dinners. The taste was amazing, not just in flavour, but the crust on the pudding was just right, with the occasional chewy crunchy bit. Bloody marvellous! I'd come again just that jam roly pudding!



Basically The Black Horse is everything you want from a proper old English pub. It's established, cosy, warm, welcoming, and offers great drinks, excellent food, and a thoroughly pleasant atmosphere. I recommend it thoroughly!

The Black Horse
Long Lane
Heath Charnock
Chorley
PR6 9EE
(01257) 671 497
https://www.blackhorselimbrick.uk/

The Black Horse

by on 20:18
I found The Black Horse by chance! My car broke down on Long Lane, on the way to Chorley, and so I took respite in the classic country...