Dining Out: A bewitching Halloween lunch at the Boar's Head in Hoghton helps with the chilling

Short of dressing up as a pumpkin, it’s hard to know how to eat, drink and be scarey for Halloween Sunday lunch.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 4:55 am

Coming from a family with loose connections to the Pendle Witches, it should have been easy.

But the best we could come up with was booking a table in a 16th century inn reputed to have been one of the final overnight stops for Demdike, Chattox and Co on their fateful journey to Lancaster Castle and the hangman.

The Boar’s Head at Hoghton has other family connections too. The good lady and I were married in a tiny chapel just down the lane, our three little monsters were all baptised there and, spookily, many of Mrs E’s ancestors are occupants of the churchyard.

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Legend has it that the Boar's Head was a stopping off place for the Pendle Witches on their way to trial and execution.

Where better then to tip up on October 31 for an afternoon of chilling ahead of an evening under siege at home from trick or treaters trying to knock the front door down for the sake of a handful of toffees?

Considering its macabre links with my creepy cousins, the Boar’s Head is remarkably warm, cosy and inviting. The smart gastropub was doing a roaring trade and, despite the rain lashing down outside, there were lots of smiling faces and clean plates on view as we were led to our table for two.

Having sacrificed our Sunday breakfast treat (full English) to give the Boar’s Head menu a run for its money, we were both on the ravenous side of hungry. Mrs E had chosen before I had even found my glasses - Stilton mushrooms to start followed by a trio of meats roast dinner.

For me the black pudding stack and the peppered steak pie stood out from a fairly traditional bill of fayre.

Mrs E's Sunday roast was a trio of meats.

The mushrooms on garlic toasted ciabatta (£6.50) hit the spot for the boss, with their perfect strength creamy Stilton sauce. I was allowed a tiny taste and the dish was pure heaven.

My stack (also £6.50) was built out of dauphinoise potatoes and black pudding, topped with a poached egg and smothered in what was the richest peppercorn sauce I have ever tasted. I could have handled a bowl of that on its own with a spoon and a bit of bread to dip.

After two great starters I was hoping the kitchen hadn’t peaked too early. When the mains arrived I could see it hadn’t.

Regulars of this column might recall Mrs E is a Sunday roast sort of gal. The difficulty tends to be choosing which meat to have with a giant Yorkshire and all the trimmings.

The black pudding stack with peppercorn sauce was stunning.

But that problem was resolved by a triple whammy. Large slices of beef, turkey and ham all on the same plate were the answer to all her prayers and at £15.50 the lot. Radio silence for a good 10 minutes and an empty plate were proof of its quality.

My slow-cooked peppered steak pie with triple-cooked chips, mushy peas and thick beef gravy (£14.50) was warming and delicious on a cold and wet Sunday.

We had no room for dessert and so set off home feeling happy and fulfilled, ready to face the present-day Pendle Witches on our doorstep.