The Parkers Arms, Newton in Bowland, Lancashire

It’d been over two months since I’d last visited The Parkers Arms, seasons were beginning to change, and with those changing seasons come different dishes from great restaurants, to show off the brilliant seasonal produce. I’ve seen Stosie tweet loads of gorgeous pictures of game bird roast dinners on the Parkers Arms twitter page, and then on Friday saw a gorgeous looking venison and gnocchi dish, and really began looking forward to my visit the following day.

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We made it eventually, after being delayed by late trains and sheep on the road (okay, one sheep on the road, and it only delayed us by a second or two, but I’m trying to build some tension here), and were greeted by the always affable AJ, who recognised us straight away from our previous visit, it’s always nice to be remembered! We were seated, and began looking through the menu and at the specials board.

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AJ soon returned with complimentary glasses of their delicious homemade Elderflower Pressé, which I can confirm was just as delicious as last time, and I would like it on tap, thankyouverymuch.

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Orders were taken, and whilst waiting we were brought a complimentary platter of nibbles to snack on as we waited.

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Homemade crackers with a refreshing mix of salad vegetables and tzatziki, these were amazing, an explosion of flavours.

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Crispy skins, two ways. Pork crackling with an apricot chutney dip, and crispy potato skins with a tomato dip. I love these potato skins so much, and dipped into the tomato chutney, yum!

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It was a busy day at The Parkers Arms, so although service at times was slow, we felt relaxed and never rushed. We didn’t mind, anyway, we were in no rush to go anywhere, we were seeing were the day would take us.

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Mary decided to go off pisté with her meal, and order two starters and a side salad, instead of a main. She ordered the New Season Cornish Mussels with Parsley Spätzle in a broth (above) and the Parkers Pastrami with Molasses Bread. The spätzle had a nice bite to them, and a good parsley flavour, and the mussels looked good and plump.

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The Parkers Pastrami (above) came with gherkins on the side, I love gherkins, and these tasted great. The pastrami itself is unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. This had texture and a good bite, unlike the stuff you find in supermarkets. Mary assured me that this is proper American style pastrami. The molasses bread was like treacle toffee flavoured bread, and went great when dipped into the sauce of mine and Rob’s main of Roast and Braised Local Estate Venison, with Gnocchi and Wild Mushrooms (below)

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The roast venison was nicely pink, just how I like it, and the braised venison had a rich autumnal flavour that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I have never tasted gnocchi quite as delicious as this. I was feeling full towards the end of finishing this plate, and left about four gnocchis, but kept regrouping to come back for more, and managed to clear my plate (with a bit of help from Rob, who finished off the venison. I really need to train my stomach better!)

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Sara ordered the Pan Roast Fleetwood Haddock, Autumn Greens, Creamed Mash with Lemon Butter. I didn’t get much of a look in on this, which is a shame (for me, not for Sara), because it looked delicious, and judging by how quickly it was devoured, it must have been.

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Thoughts soon turned to the small matter of pudding. Could we handle a pudding? We were all quite full, but we consulted the science books which assured us that homo sapiens have a second stomach whose sole purpose is to digest puddings, decided that we should have puddings. Okay, that’s a lie, AJ tempted us by mentioning that Stosie’s Portuguese Custard Tarts were just about to come out of the oven. How could we turn that down?

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I am slowly finding that I need to be less fussy. I’ve always turned my nose up at custard tarts, just like I’d always done with plums and gooseberries (see my blog about Northcote), but in the hands of a skilled chef, I’ve really enjoyed these things, so I bit the bullet with the custard tart, and I couldn’t be happier to have done so. The pastry was flaky, buttery and rich, and the filling, although piping hot, was just what you want in your belly on an autumn afternoon with the weather closing in. The marmalade on top of the Chantilly cream, and the granola under it were great touches, and I loved the little meringue stuck in it. Rob and I were more than happy with our choice of pud.

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Sara had the Chocolate Fondant with Malt Ice Cream. Chocolate fondants, are known on Masterchef for being the death dish. There is a risk of it being fully cooked through inside, or just falling apart when you remove it from the mould.

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Obviously with such talent in the kitchen, this was cooked to perfection, and after a bit of pouting and reminding Sara what a lovely boyfriend I am, I was allowed a taste. The rich chocolate taste flooded my mouth, and I did a little happy dance, and returned to my delicious custard tart.

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Mary opted for blue cheese, with crackers for her pudding. I’m told that blue cheese is delicious, but I think blue cheese is for deviants. I know I’m a pleb, I just can’t deal with it. Mary enjoyed stuffing bits of cheese into the air pockets in the crackers, however!

Just as we were fit to bursting, AJ brought us out another little treat, just to break the camels back.

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Salted Caramel. Hells yes! I love the salty sweet combination, Mary isn’t too keen (to put it lightly), but she really enjoyed these. This little treat was the cherry on top of a fantastic meal. I can’t wait to visit again! Surely it’s just a matter of time this place gets at the very least a Bib Gourmand rating from the Michelin Guide? Who is in agreement with me there?

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