David Upton visits the Farmers Arms, Great Eccleston
A seafood and grill restaurant called the Farmers Arms might seem a contradiction in terms, but it’s only the first of several pleasant surprises to be had at this newly-opened hostelry.
It may also have a Preston postcode, but you might need to set the satnav to find it in Great Eccleston, towards the Fylde coast. The effort will be well worthwhile.
It’s the latest of four restaurants opened by the Clitheroe-based Seafood Pub Company, which seems even further away from the ocean, but is the idea of a fish merchant’s daughter from Fleetwood.
Now it all starts to make sense.
Jocelyn Neve’s business also embraces the Oyster and Otter at Feniscowles, the Assheton Arms at Downham and the Fenwick in the Lune Valley at Claughton.
With her father Chris’s knowledge and chef Anthony Shirley’s expertise they’ve come up with a menu that sets the Farmers Arms well apart from any competition.
The elegantly-refurbished interior has all the currently popular colour ways, and a mix of timber and slate textures, and is spread over two floors with a feeling of light, space and individual character to its dining areas.
Naturally fish tends to dominate the menus and specials boards, but there are also intriguing-sounding dishes like Persian Chicken or Pig On A Stick!
Items are also grouped around headings such as Street Food, Pub Snacks, Smoke House, Clay Pot and Robata Grill.
The latter is a Japanese-style grill and from it I chose the peppered tuna steak with cream spinach and parmesan fries (£15.50) but before that came a starter of crab and shrimp empanadas (£4.95) with chimichurri, a South American sauce of parsley, oregano, garlic and chilli.
The empanadas were two small pasties of light pastry with a fishy filling, while the sauce added a tangy bite of its own.
The tuna steak came seared and flaky on a delicious creamy sauce with spinach and the Parmesan fries were just that, a small bowl of chips dusted with cheese.
And all the better for it.
Across the table my partner was equally smitten with a starter of crispy katsu prawns with a mild Japanese curry dip (£5.50), but had to admit defeat when it came to finishing her main course of a fish pie packed with haddock, prawns, and parsley sauce, topped off with mashed potato and a cheese crumb (£11.50) with a side order of creamed spinach (£2.75).
It didn’t seem to stop her sharing my dessert choice of strawberry and passion fruit mess, coconut meringues and rum cream (£5.50).
And as for the remaining half of her fish pie?
No problem madame.
It was promptly parcelled up, in its dish, which we promise to return.
In the very near future . . .