RESTAURANT REVIEW: New-look pub is a great spot for lunch and some adventure

Griffins Head in Huncoat
Griffins Head in Huncoat
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For many of us the brisk new year winds bring with them fresh resolve to get fit and shed a few pounds.

But kale chips and cabbage soup ain’t gonna cut it for this gluttonous carnivore.

Views from the nearby Huncoat Trail

Views from the nearby Huncoat Trail

So, how to marry up these apparently incompatible goals?

Easy. Get out into the wonderful Lancashire hills for high octane 
adventures and then stuff my face guilt free.

Sounds like a plan!

Now, the Ribble Valley seems to have cornered the market on great pub grub and country pursuits - but it doesn’t quite have a monopoly just yet.

Sabden pork and treacle sausages

Sabden pork and treacle sausages

If your feeling a little adventurous, there is plenty going on on the less manicured side of Pendle Hill.

In fact, some of the best off-road hikes in the county - for my money - take in the lesser appreciated Great Hambeldon, between Burnley and Accrington.

The views back over the Ribble Valley from the 1,300ft summit are worth the effort and even in summer you can often enjoy this trails all to yourself while the masses descend on more obvious routes elsewhere in the county.

It’s a real hidden gem. Just like the Griffins Head in Huncoat, in the shadows of these wonderful hills.

From the doorstep you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the sort of place where pool balls are potted over too many pints of larger.

In fact, until very recently it was. But this four-square boozer has been putting out great grub for the last couple of years without much
 fanfare.

And now, after a classy refurbishment, it’s got an interior to match its trendy grill bar ambitions.

Think low lighting, wooden tables, grilled meats and gin cocktails.

The menu is a real crowd pleaser, too, revolving around the ever popular chargrill.

30-day aged steaks, roast chicken and fish are all cooked simply with some nice sauces and accompaniments to chose from.

The likes of Cafe de Paris and prawn butters join the more usual peppercorn and blue cheese sauces as sidekicks to the grilled treats.

There’s also a eye on provenance too with the likes of Lancashire cheese and onion pie (£12) and Sabden pork and treacle sausages (£12) taking pride of place on the menu.

The latter went down a treat with a fist full of creamy mash and a lathering of onion gravy for my wife.

The sausages were sweet and sticky and gravy rich, but it was the mash that really swung it for my carb loving guest.

I couldn’t resist the grill and went for a simple 8oz sirloin (£18), compete with Cafe de Paris butter (£1.50 extra), grilled mushroom and tomato and a side of truffle fries.

The steak was tasty and cooked to my liking (medium).

If I was to nitpick I’d suggest scrapping the grilled tomatoes until they come back into season and I didn’t really get any truffle flavour on the skinny American-style fries.

I should have gone for the thick, chunky chips that came with my step-son’s chicken burger (£14).

They were great. Almost the size of roast potatoes, and crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle.

His burger, too, which I got to finish off, was served in a sweet brioche bun and served with Bloody Mary ketchup. Delicious.

For the little one, my four-year-old daughter, a fillet tail (£5) made a great change from the usual fish fingers and beans you get served to kids in too many places.

To finish, my sticky toffee pudding needed a bit more sauce to live up to its name but the kids at no complaints about the strawberry cheesecake and chocolate orange ice cream.

For four of us, including wine, beer and soft drinks, it came to a reasonable £76. Not bad at all.

It you like discovering somewhere new, particularly away from the obvious places, you’d do a lot worse than checking out the Griffins Head.

And afterwards you can check out its underrated surroundings.

If you’ve got it in you, you could take on the entire nine mile circular Huncoat Trail, which can be accessed from just across the road from the pub.

The trail skirts around Hambledon Hill, as well as Accrington’s Peel Park and right down to the Leeds Liverpool canal, where the views over Whalley Nab are absolutely stunning.

If you’re feeling really adventurous you could even scramble 1,300ft to the top of Great Hambledon, one of the highest points in the county.

We’ll certainly be back for more very soon.

Griffins Head, Huncoat BB5 6LD

Tel: 01254 394788

Food - 8

Drinks - 8

Service - 8

Atmosphere - 8

Child friendly - 9