Saturday 28 June 2014

Expanding on - and at - the Parkers Arms

Eleven! Count them: eleven courses at lunch today, at the outwardly unexceptional but actually quite remarkable Parkers Arms inn at Newton in Bowland, Lancashire. They were all still fizzing with excitement there after the high praise of their review in last weekend's Observer, and understandably so. Such things can make or break a restaurant, and they are already reaping benefits.

Other diners were enjoying the triple-cooked chips (sigh), the salt marsh lamb and cockle pie, the steak and ale; but we had the special treat of a tasting menu of most of the day's dishes, all of them from local producers and all home-made. Super-smooth rich mushroom parfait, delicately-flavored potted ham, smoked trout caught just a half-mile away, black pudding sausage rolls, flaky and delicious - just some of what was brought to our table, beautifully presented and expertly cooked. Then pudding: a chocolate indulgence made from 70% Valrhona, a strawberry cup, gooseberry icecream - and then the famous Wet Nellie. Want to know what it is? You'll have to go there and discover it for yourself. Two hints to encourage you: it's not wet, and it tastes of Christmas.
And now we're in Lancaster, at another award-winning B&B, the Ashton, with chickens scratching in the strangely immaculate borders, books everywhere and home-made cake under a glass dome. What a shame we couldn't possibly eat another thing.

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