Monday, 7 May 2012

The Fisherman's Retreat, Ramsbottom

Every time we go to the Fisherman's Retreat, I feel like I'm returning to an old friend. We've been going for a few years now, and during that period it's changed from a country pub in the middle of nowhere to a rather swish venue indeed. The new dining room overlooks the hillside, with floor to ceiling windows covering the end of the building.
As well as serving up some cracking food, they also specialise in whisky (they have a room dedicated to the stuff) and real ale. The site started as a fishery, and the restaurant developed from that. Well, I suppose fishing is cold and wet work. I'd rather just stay in the warmth to be honest...

The family who run the Fisherman's Retreat have a strong ethos when it comes to the food they produce. Everything on the menu is home made, and most of the meat home reared. The rest is picked from local farms. The meat is butchered on site to their required specifications, and everything is hung for at least 6 weeks. 

We always struggle for something to do on bank holidays. Generally we find ourselves eating out, so why change the habit of a lifetime? We were on the hunt for warming comfort food. It might well be May, but no-one told the weather!

My husband had the oxtail soup to start. This by rights was more of a stew than a soup! It came with a tangy Lancashire cheese crouton. Absolutely perfect. Deep meaty flavour and a piece of cheesy bread saturated in the juice. Heaven.
I opted for the soup off the specials; creamy leek and potato. Again, this was really smooth and rich, and came with a chunk of cheese bread. Portion sizes are generous, but I was dealing with serious levels of hunger...
For mains, my husband had suckling pig roast and I had a 10oz gammon (you can pick from different sizes depending on your apetite). The pork came in a thick gravy with crisp vegetables. The gammon comes with arguably some of the best chips around! My only slight criticism is the fact they have changed their pepper sauce. The one they serve is absolutely gorgeous, but they used to do a really thick creamy one with pieces of red pepper in it. Bring back the old pepper sauce! 
The Fisherman's Retreat excel in two areas; meat (covered) and desserts. A while ago I found myself obsessed with bakewell tart. I mean besotted. I would hunt it down and travel to find the perfect example. See Gilbert Scott. I still think the Fisherman's bakewell is hard to beat. Sadly it is now missing from the menu... (note to Fisherman's Retreat, please send me the recipes for your pepper sauce and bakewell tart... and you'll not hear another peep about it!) 

However, today we tried the sticky toffee pudding with custard and the white chocolate cheesecake. Regardless of restaurant stature, you'll find it difficult to beat these, really. The pudding is light and spicy, and the cheesecake smooth and tangy with a crumbly ginger base. 
My husband refused to leave without trying one of the real ales on the menu. He opted for Pendle Pride. Before he purchased a pint, the waitress brought a sample for him to try, and explained that it is stored in whisky casks so has a unique taste. It tasted like the ale has been next to some sort of fragrant fire! Not my bag, but he loved it! 
The Fisherman's Retreat is a long term favourite, so I'll definitely be back. Try it, you'll love it!

Disclaimer: The Fisherman's Retreat did not pay me to do this review. I did it because I'm rather fond of their gammon, and their desserts are second to none.
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