The Parkers Arms, Newton in Bowland

Sunday the 26th of April 2015 was marathon day, thousands of people spent today jogging around a 26 mile route around central London. Anybody who knows me well will know how enthraling I find this, so I am sure will be surprised I decided to go out for a meal at one of Lancashires best pub restaurants(!)

  

The drive to The Parkers Arms is a great one, I mean, look at the views we were treated to on the way there! What makes it better is the anticipation of what is to come.

When we arrived AJ recognised me immediately, despite my last visit being over a year ago (for which I feel terrible,)  you only get service like that here! We were a good half hour early so my dad and I got a pint of Kozel and sat outside in the glorious Sunday sun.

 

Kozel is one of those rare things, a tasty lager! Usually lagers just taste of cold wet fizzy liquid, but this has flavour. Also, it has a goat as its logo. Everybody loves goats. 

  

After enjoying the lesser spotted April sun we went inside to our table. I was a bit excited about sitting in the upper restaurant area as I’d never sat there before. It’s a lovely cosy space.

   

  

Menus were looked at, food was ordered and bellies were hungry. First up, Stosie sent out some #TweetTreats. If you let Stosie know you’re coming over Twitter she sometimes sends these out… she’s something of a feeder!

   

First out was a bowl of Stosie’s signature snacks, Crispy Potato Skins, which on previous visits has come with chutneys and sauces, but this time I think she’s nailed it, serving them with a homemade salsa that reminded me of a pico de gallo, so fresh and mildly piquant. 

 

Maintaining her feeder reputation, this was sent out next. A whole plate full of goodies!

  

Firstly we had falafel, easily the best falafel I’ve ever had, even beating the falafel van on the flag market in Preston, the man who turned me onto falafel in the first place!

  

Homemade pitta breads and a vibrant tzatziki were great but my favourite bit was…

  

This tabbouleh salad was one of the BEST things ive eaten in a long time. I need this recipe so I can make it for my packed lunches for work! 

 

For starters we both went for the Local Estate Peppered Seared Venison Loin with dressed salad, damsons and Parkers sourdough bread. The venison was beyond tender, and the damsons, whose flesh I spread on each slice of venison were almost jam like. The sourdough had great flavour, but I didn’t eat much of it, as we’d only reached the Cutty Sark of this food marathon and didn’t want to fill up too soon.

   
 

My dad had the Sunday roast option of Roast Bowland Hogget, with roasties, creamed potatoes, spring greens, carrots, gravy and mint sauce. The lamb had been cooked sous vide, and then finished on a charcoal grill which my dad said came across in a smoky flavour. He enjoyed it, though said in future he probably wouldn’t order it again as it wasn’t quite to his tastes, being more used to lamb, and having never eaten hogget before, I can understand this, as I believe it has quite a strong flavour.

   

I think I made a mistake in ordering the Lightly Battered Cod, with Parkers chips, tartare sauce and peas. I mean, it was perfect, crispy batter, perfectly cooked fish, translucent and just flaking apart, and the chips, oh, the chips! When St Heston of Blumenthal came up with triple cooked chips, he did the world of food a massive favour. Just look at that close up shot, shards of crisp potato on the outside of the chips! Looking back now, though, I wish I’d gone for the more exciting Charcoal Grilled Gurnard with cumin pilaf rice, with a lemon and wild garlic sauce. Oh well, you live and learn… well, you live, anyway!

In sympathy for the athletes and charity runners in today’s London Marathon, both mine and my dad’s bellies hit The Wall. We were propped up at the table with the bottled water at Canary Wharf. We were all for giving in, but would those runners quit? No, they push on, like true professionals, so we did the same, and after a break we ordered puds.

   
 

My dad went for the refreshing and palate cleansing Gisburn Cream and Lemon Posset, topped with new season Lancashire strawberries, berry sauce, oat crunch and a shard of meringue. I’ve had a similar dessert to this at the Parkers Arms before and raved about it. It’s both indulgent and light at the same time, a better posset has never existed. I, on the other hand, have no time for sensible dessert decisions…

   
 

The Valhrona 70% Chocolate & Salted Caramel Trifle was an exercise in indulgence, a case study in over-indulgence, and richer than Richie Rich swimming in Scrooge McDuck’s pile of coins, whilst Richard Branson and Donald Trump compare bank statements in the corner… but my god was it good!

  

A dense chocolate set cream, topped with chocolate sauce and a salted caramel sauce. So often when a menu says “salted caramel ” they actually mean “caramel.” Stosie, however ain’t messing about, this is properly salted, halle-beleeding-lujah! And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also topped with a quenelle of whipped cream, and a rubble of meringue, a shard of chocolate tuille and a perfectly tempered, wafer thin chocolate crisp!

At this point we were beyond stuffed, went to the bar for a chat with AJ over a coffee (for my dad) and a bourbon, for me. We spoke about Jay Rayner’s visit last year and how great things have been since his rave review, apparently Jay is a lovely bloke, not that I had any doubt, he always comes across so well on TV and radio, unlike many other professional critics who come over as miserable and humourless. 

We paid up and waddled to the car, our very own version of The Mall, the final segment of the London Marathon. It’s hard work this eating lark…

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