As we head further north on our road trip we have reached the point of our first overnight stay. We are staying at The Cartford Inn in Little Ecclestone and this blog will cover both our dinner and our breakfast experiences. The Cartford Inn, originally a 17th century coaching inn, is set in the heart of rural Lancashire. The current owners, Patrick and Julie Beaumé, have extended and refurbished the place over the last 10 years to create a venue that has won several food, drink and pub awards.
Arriving on a bright sunny late afternoon we are immediately offered tea and cake and feel very welcomed. After a walk on a still super hot day we soon need something to help cool us down. Rock chooses a Sipsmith gin mixed with Fentiman’s rose lemonade – perfect. I have a Moorhouse’s Pride of Pendle, an amber ale – which is very pleasant but not exciting.
I am more than ready for food but the heat has had a real effect on Rock’s appetite. For her dinner she chooses a starter! Her hand-rolled bread crackers look spectacular and come with a harissa hummus and a green lentil & onion paté. That is all she needs and she is happy. I have the Goosnargh duck breast with pickled green strawberries, elderflower, nut granola and chicory. The duck is beautifully pink. The pickled strawberries are slightly tart but work fantastically well with the duck and the slightly sweetened nut granola.
Bread crackers, harissa hummus & olive tapenade
Duck breast, pickled green strawberries, nut granola, elderflower and chicory
The playlist here tonight is a little uninspiring – basically hits of the 1980s. Now I love music from all eras but there are very few occasions when I feel ‘Rio’ by Duran Duran is what I want to listen to while I’m eating dinner. I move on to a pint of Giddy Kipper brewed especially for the Cartford Inn. This is more exciting – a hoppy pale ale with notes of grapefruit. Rock’s appetite may have waned but I still have room for dessert and I’ve chosen the apricot clafouti with honey ice cream. I love a good clafouti! This one is very pleasant but the batter has the consistency of a thick custard ….it probably needed a few more minutes in the oven.
After a decent night’s sleep we are ready for breakfast. We have good Atkinson’s coffee and exceptional croissants. Rock has the vegetarian breakfast (see featured image) – fresh asparagus, poached egg, sautéed potatoes, cherry tomatoes & mushrooms. I have the English breakfast – the asparagus and potatoes replaced by black pudding and Honeywell’s bacon & sausage. The poached Ryan Bee’s free range eggs and the Honeywell’s sausage are both excellent.
We had great service in the evening from James, Danny and Ellen and at breakfast from the very chatty Craig. We also loved the fact that Patrick & Julie take a real interest in their guests.
Great place to stay, great place to drink and a pretty good place to eat too!
Over the past year we have visited almost 200 places looking for the very best eating experiences. The WadeandRockandFoodAwards (part I) were made to our top three pubs and (part II) are now made to three outstanding restaurants, listed in alphabetical order, that delivered superb food and great service.
Honey & Co, Fitzrovia – transport yourself to the Middle East with extraordinary flavours and aromas. Honey Review
Falafel with hummus, tomato & orange
Quince & blueberry cheesecake
Northcote Manor, Langho – works of art on a plate that taste divine. For best experience stay over, enjoy good wine with dinner, and breakfast next morning! North Review
Cedar plank salmon with fennel coleslaw
Bramley apple trifle
The Woodspeen, Woodspeen – great cooking, excellent beer & wine, fantastic service – a place that ticks all the boxes! Wood Review
Cod with braised red cabbage
Cinnamon, apple & prune bakewell
During 2016 we aim to return to some of the restaurants we have loved and to visit numerous other places looking for fabulous food.
In a small number of cases it is difficult to decide whether one place is a pub or a restaurant – we have categorised on the basis of the way each place felt to us.
The WadeandRockandFoodAwards (part III) will be made to our top 4 small independents.
At last we are revisiting Northcote Manor. The Michelin starred restaurant has an array of culinary giants in the kitchen – often including chef patron, Nigel Haworth and regularly including executive head chef, Lisa Allen. It has been one of our favourite places for a long time but we haven’t been back there for over a year. Today is the day!
I choose the chicken liver parfait with artichoke, mushroom jelly and rocket. When it arrives I am reminded that the Northcote kitchen doesn’t just create dishes that are beautiful to eat – they are beautiful to look at too. The parfait is rich and full of flavour but I need more toast! Rock picks the cedar plank salmon with fennel coleslaw, caviar and garden flowers. The salmon is good quality, well dressed with great flavour from the fennel.
Cedar plank salmon with fennel coleslaw
The restaurant is full and visions of food are flying past us as the service swings into top gear. My medium rare hanger steak arrives served with a beef fat onion, young carrots and hand cut chips. Fabulous. Rock has the plaice fillet with heirloom tomatoes, scorched cucumber, crushed new potatoes and preserved lemon. The plaice is beautifully cooked and perfectly seasoned. The different tomatoes have individual favours, they work fantastically well with the fish, as does the lemon. There is some sort of magic created when you can taste each individual flavour and every item adds to the greatness of the dish. We have been to so many places where the starters heighten expectations, then the main courses are disappointing – but not here.
Rock says something I can’t quite believe, “I don’t want dessert” but then adds “I’ll have some of yours, but I’m saving myself for the Eccles cakes.” Now I understand. I am already well past saving and order the Bramley apple trifle. The trifle is no ordinary trifle – apple purée in the bottom, topped with Horlicks mousse, apple jelly, sticks of Bramley Apple, vanilla custard and apple sorbet. Extraordinary.
We order coffee which, at lunchtime, is served with their fabulous mini Eccles cakes. Great coffee, great mini Eccles – we just need more of them!