Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Pack Horse, Affetside

The Pack Horse, Affetside
All my friends know I'm a right greedy pig, which is great because they are constantly recommending new places for me to visit. My pal Michelle sent me some pictures from The Pack Horse in Affetside a few weeks ago, which plonked it firmly on 'the list'. Although Affetside sounds like some far-flung land, it's actually only a few minutes outside Bolton on the edge of Tottington in Bury. 

We arrived to the tune of rumbling thunder and the type of sky that the Brontë sisters would have had a field day with. Watling Street sits on top of quite a steep hill which overlooks the rolling countryside below, and feels a million miles away from the pound shop infested town centre. There's a roomy outdoor seating area and the large inside skylights flood the dining room with light. 
The Pack Horse, Affetside
The Pack Horse is made up of a cluster of little snugs, with what appears to be a more modern extension to the rear. Log fires burn, walls are decorated with old maps and pretty wallpaper and the furniture appears to be a mixture of new and up-cycled church items. It was heaving when we arrived, but we still managed to get a table quickly.
The Pack Horse, Affetside
Beef burger served with baby gem lettuce, tomato, mustard mayonnaise, handcut chips and onion rings: This is a thick, 100% beef burger which has a taste of dad's barbecue circa 1994; meaty, slightly charred and piping hot. The chips were fluffy on the inside with a nice crisp edge, and the onion rings had a notable crunch. It's a shame that they forgot my cheese, and served this on a bun rather than the toasted foccacia described on the menu.
The Pack Horse, Affetside - Burger
Lancashire cheese and onion pie from the Great North Pie Co. served with hand cut chips and mushy peas: This little individual pie had crisp pastry, a rich cheesy centre and a slight after taste of fennel seeds. I know my dad's from a generation where they generally enjoy vegetables cooked to mush, but he did mention that his carrots were a little firm. Again, there was a slight issue with the order, as he had requested mash rather than chips.
The Pack Horse, Affetside - Cheese and Onion Pie
Wholetail scampi, hand cut chips and mushy peas: My mum adores scampi, and seems drawn to it wherever it appears on a menu. She was hugely impressed with this one. A crisp exterior with fresh tasting prawns on the inside - and plenty of them too.
The Pack Horse, Affetside - Scampi
Eton Mess: You can't go wrong with a big pile of meringue, whipped cream and raspberries. Surprisingly light too.
The Pack Horse, Affetside - Eton Mess
Sticky Toffee Pudding: Reassuringly lopsided thus indicating this was of the home made sort. Warm, sticky cake with little caramelised bits, and a subtle heat from the ginger. A big jug of hot custard didn't harm it either.
The Pack Horse, Affetside - Sticky Toffee Pudding
Judging by some of the reviews I have read, The Pack Horse has had a bit of a kick in the pants since being taken over by Hyde's Brewery. Old photos show a stark white building, a dining room which looked dated and a bit dirty, and customers were not always complimentary about their use of frozen chips. They've clearly spent a serious amount of cash to transform a dreary boozer into a gastropub worthy of competing with some of the other local heroes - notably the Hearth of the Ram, Eagle and Child and Fisherman's Retreat.

We all really enjoyed The Pack Horse, despite the handful of ordering misdemeanours. They were extremely busy (it's half term round here), and we probably would have bought more drinks if asked, but the food and surroundings made up for the little mistakes. Head here on a sunny day and enjoy your lunch al fresco whilst taking in the view.

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