The full Conti – wonderful

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Sarah Fielden is shocked by the high standards of food at a pub – and predicts awards are on their way.

Walking past The Continental on the way home, it always proves difficult to resist calling in.

Whether for a drink in the popular beer garden or a meal in a cosy corner of the bar, it’s always a great place to spend an afternoon or evening.

And our latest experience of the South Meadow Lane pub did not disappoint, as we ventured across the river to try out the new spring menu.

Turning up on a Thursday night I thought we may have got away without a reservation, but I was glad of our booking when we were shown to the only empty table in the prime window location.

As I perused the menu, my eyes were drawn to the starters of Goosnargh chicken liver pate wrapped in smoked 
bacon, and smoked mackerel fillet mousse.

However, as two mouth-watering desserts wafted past us to the next table, I decided to skip the starter and save room for a pudding.

After much deliberation over the main courses, I chose pan-fried breast of chicken filled with Bury black pudding and creamy Lancashire cheese, served on caramelised onion mash and red wine sauce.

I worried I may have played it safe opting for chicken, but when the plate arrived I knew I hadn’t made a mistake.

The chicken was succulent, juicy and perfectly cooked, and was balanced perfectly with the rich black pudding and tangy cheese.

The mash was creamy and light, and I had no trouble clearing the plate.

Mr Eating Out plumped for “duo of lamb” – a mini roasted rack of spring lamb on sweet potato puree with a herb mash topped mini shepherds’ pie and a side of red wine sauce.

I was reliably informed the dish was delicious, and pinching a fork-full of each element, I couldn’t disagree.

The dish offered perfect home comforts, but with a refined twist that most of us would struggle to recreate in our kitchens.

Other main courses that drew my attention were three hour slow cooked spiced blackened belly pork, served over a wild mushroom and sun blushed tomato risotto, and pan fried maple syrup glazed breast of duck, served with a spring onion and chive potato bake and merlot sauce.

I would happily head back and try either – all in the name of research, of course.

Although full after the main courses, we had promised ourselves a look at the dessert menu after a glimpse of what was on offer.

Unable to resist, I chose an individual toffee cheesecake with home-made praline ice cream.

The creamy, sweet cheesecake was stunning, and was served with ice cream in a biscuit basket.

Although a generous portion, I could have eaten it again and again.

Mr Eating Out chose strawberry brulee from the specials menu, which was equally delicious and moreish.

With drinks included, the bill came to just under £40, which seemed very reasonable for the fantastic quality of the food.