Friday, December 27, 2013

Parker's Arms

Bailey's birthday meal and the stakes were high, seeing as he only went and took me to The French on my birthday! Fortunately Bailey is a happy man when seated in a cosy pub eating hearty food and drinking a good pint of local ale, which is what made The Parker's Arms the perfect place to celebrate his birthday.

There are very few places to have received as much unanimously positive blogger/Twitter attention (from people like the excellent Food Geek) as this Ribble Valley eatery and we had been dying to know what all the fuss was about for ages. However, that is easier said than done as Parker's Arms is a good hour+ drive away for us and not the most easy drive in winter at that but we were confident that it would be worth the trip.

Even the SatNav seemed a little unsure
As well as having a brilliant reputation, Parker's Arms seem to have a really good Twitter presence, with one of the perks for their followers being the 'Tweet Treats' they shower you with if you get in touch with the chef Stosie via @parkersarms. I wasn't too sure what a Tweet Treat was at this stage but I do know that Bailey and I are greedy so-and-sos and love a good treat...

However, had we known just how many Tweet Treats we would be getting we might have reconsidered ordering from the Festive Menu - with three courses plus canapés and petits fours on offer for an eye-poppingly bargainous £30. For the quality and quantity of food we were to receive, I have to say this is one of the best value meals we've ever had.

If I were to go into detail about the marathon of Tweet Treats we were lavished with we would be here all day so let me begin by saying these were all absolutely delicious. We were so impressed with the quality of ingredients and the cooking, at times we struggled to remember we were sat in a pub and not one of the country's best restaurants. The Tweet Treats began with a basket of crispy potato skins and pork scratchings served with chutney...

...followed by a beautifully cooked venison with damsons and damson jelly for Bailey... 

...then some pan-fried haddock with a wonderfully smooth celeriac purée...

...some cured mackerel with a superb home-made cracker and more little jellies...

...and a portion of mushroom parfait with bread. Best mushroom based thing I've ever eaten methinks and so lovely we tried to recreate it for our Christmas Day starter.

Phew! By the time we actually received something from the menu we'd ordered we'd had all this plus awesome bread and were bordering on full, but we didn't mind, we know that Stosie is obviously very passionate about showing off her amazing selection of localy sourced ingredients - and by local they mean LOCAL, with the fabulous front-of-house AJ often pointing out of the window to the nearby fields or hills when explaining where the produce had come from. 

The awesome bread with equally awesome butter 
Our canapés were an additional delightful surprise as the name 'fritters' gave no indication of how light and fluffy these little balls would be.

The birthday boy's starter was a Game & Barley Broth and he let out a sigh of panic on seeing the size of this robust bowl packed with meat and veg. Fortunately he found it to be surprisingly "light and refreshing" but also very delicious.

I on the other hand let out a sigh of relief on seeing my dainty portion of Crab Parfait with Lemon and Cucumber Jellies arrive. Like its mushroomy sister, this was a light as air and smooth as silk parfait rich in crab flavour and I loved the freshness the jellies brought to the dish. Bacon on the Beech - a much more well-travelled/eaten fellow than me, recently included this in his top 50 dishes of the year and I would agree it is one of the best things I've had all year. 

Bailey's main course was a rich, luxurious plate of Roast Loin of Suckling Pig accompanied by the best examples of roast dinner sides imaginable. It was another big portion but was so good Bailey managed to polish it all off and proclaimed it to be the best Sunday lunch he's ever had!

My Slaidburn Egg Custard Tart was quite simply one of my favourite tarts in memory and it was with great sadness that I had to leave some on the plate... I have often thought about that little piece of tart that I sent back to the kitchen uneaten and wiped away a small tear.

What made this tart so special was how light and fluffy the cheesy filling was, which was a nice texture contrast to the crisp pastry. The accompanying kale was gorgeous and I loved the addition of little chunks of chestnut. Probably the most successful festive vegetarian option I've ever had. YUM!

Fortunately there was a short break between the main and the desserts which gave time for AJ to go and walk the dogs but also for our mains to go down a little bit. This was lucky as I don't even think the 'additional dessert stomach' would have pulled through for us here. We said we wished there were a couple of big sofas in the corner that we could have used for a quick lie-down.

After the short rest I felt ready to tackle my Plum Pudding with Crème Anglaise, which was probably my least favourite plate of the day as I found the pud a bit stodgy and not as moist as I'd have liked, however all the accompaniments were amazing and worked really well all together. Still much better than most desserts I've eaten in other places!

Bailey's had gone for the Valrhona Chocolate Fondant and it seemed too good to be true that after such a spot-on meal even the fondant would be gooey in the middle...

...but of course it was! Not only that but all the little bits and bobs on the plate were so good that I noticed Bailey's eyes glaze over as he slipped into a coma of deliciousness.

We'd made it to the end of our mammoth meal when we suddenly remembered there was the small matter of the petits fours to deal with. A drop in the ocean perhaps but we did feel like we were about to pop and that a petit four might tip us over the edge. Fortunately they were quite petits and were one final example of beautiful Parker's Arms food - moist, light little cakes and an eyebrow raising salted caramel chocolate square which despite my fullness I scraped up every last bit of!

By the time we finished eating, night had well and truly fallen and we realised we'd been there for most of the afternoon and early evening. Truly an epic meal. We had enjoyed every bite and the service and atmosphere had been cosy and perfect. A very memorable experience.

I wasn't sure how Parker's Arms could actually live up to all the hype but in reality our meal surpassed our expectations. It was easy to see how the place has become so talked about - as soon as we had finished our meal I immediately wanted to shout about the place from the rooftops! Even though it is a bit of a drive, we've already been talking about going back there very soon and want to take all our friends so they can see how great it is too. Food and service like this is worth travelling for! So, did Bailey enjoy his birthday meal and how did it compare to The French? In fact... he said it was one of the best meals of the year and he actually enjoyed it MORE than The French! What a success. Thanks to everyone at Parker's Arms for such a delectable afternoon!

Parkers Arms on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for dropping by and leaving us a comment!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...