Wednesday 11 March 2015

The Aspinall Arms, Clitheroe

The Aspinall Arms, Clitheroe
Apparently the Queen wants to retire to the Ribble Valley - who can blame her? It's a beautiful area of the country, with rolling hills, babbling brooks, Roman ruins and some of the best pubs and restaurants in the country. I'm convinced that a pretty view makes the food taste better too. 

The Aspinall Arms in Mitton near Clitheroe used to be a pub we drove past on our way to The Three Fishes. When it was suggested we take a trip, I remembered it being in Mitton, but that was about it. About seven years ago we had just discovered Nigel Haworth's Ribble Valley Inns, and thought no-one would ever come close to their amazing home cooked pub food. Then folk started to considerably up their game. We no longer had to drive for an hour to get food worthy of the Good Food Guide; the Hearth of the Ram and Eagle and Child opened in Ramsbottom, and Manchester got the belly warming Beef and Pudding. The new breed of gastropub have been popping up everywhere ever since. This is great news for greedy folk like me, because there are more places to sample. 

The modern 'pub grub' establishment is a far cry from the wildly patterned carpeted, smoky kind of gaff serving up scampi and chicken in a basket, whilst the the football on the telly talks to itself in the background. These days it's all about roaring fires in the winter, al fresco dining in the summer, and more often than not, chalk paint in duck egg blue.

After extensive renovation in 2014, The Aspinall Arms is a real contender in the area. Some of our family live nearby, and were excited to take us there to try it for ourselves. We went on a Saturday evening (post cake club might I add...), when it was just starting to get busy. I needed something savoury more than I needed oxygen (slight exaggeration - granted). 
We had a good look at the cask selection whilst we waited for the rest of our party to arrive, which included a healthy selection of local breweries such as Hawkshead, and hometown favourite, Bank Top. By the time we sat down, I was absolutely ravenous, but luckily our order was taken pretty sharpish and I avoided nibbling on a beermat.

8oz steak burger topped with grilled bacon and Cheddar, served with coleslaw and chips: I'm always a bit dubious about ordering burgers from places like this. It generally goes one of two ways with little in between. It was truly scrumptious. Just the right ratio of toppings to burger, crisp home made chips and a dollop of coleslaw. The perfect savoury antidote to an afternoon laced with sugar.
The Aspinall Arms, Clitheroe - Burger
Braised shoulder of lamb with dauphinoise potatoes, green beans and lamb jus: A little more refined than my oozing burger. This rich slow cooked lamb fell off the bone. I'm presuming my husband would have preferred it with chips though, as he kindly liberated some of mine...

Other members of the party had the humongous fish and chips, the venison and the crispy beef salad. Turns out the haddock was the winner amongst the group.
The Aspinall Arms, Clitheroe - Lamb
Crème brûlée with shortbread biscuit: I was way too full for a dessert (clearly sabotaged by cake club gluttony), but I had to get a snap of this impressive dessert.
The Aspinall Arms, Clitheroe - Creme Brulee
A quick cuppa was required to revive several flagging diners, who were already rather wriggly indeed. The shortbread biscuit definitely helped...
The Aspinall Arms, Clitheroe - Tea and Coffee
We all really enjoyed our trip to The Aspinall Arms. The service was attentive, the food was warming and the ambience was restorative. The Three Fishes have some serious competition from their new glam neighbours.

Aspinall Arms on Urbanspoon

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