RESTAURANT REVIEW: Halfway House, Clayton-le-Woods

The elusive Dante moves aside and the result could be divine cuisine

Thursday, 24th May 2018, 11:09 am
Updated Thursday, 24th May 2018, 11:11 am
Halfway House, Clayton-le-Woods

We live in a fast-paced world of instant information. Everything can be answered in seconds online and what was the brand name Google has now turned into an everyday verb that is impossible to ignore.

The world is apparently at our fingertips. Apart from Dante’s at the Halfway House, just outside Chorley, that is.

Looking for somewhere for a Sunday lunch – not too far away but far enough to feel like we’d ‘been out’ – Dante’s on the A6 at Clayton-le-Woods sprang to mind.

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Meatball picante

Reaching for the requisite smartphone, a quick Google returned very few relevant results. The brewery which ran it merely listed its contact details but there were no menus or online booking facility to be found anywhere.

I actually found myself feeling quite affronted. How can somewhere – anywhere – not have an all-singing, all-dancing website in this day and age?

Once I had calmed down, I called to book (imagine!) and was told they have dropped the Dante’s and are now known simply as the Halfway House.

A pretty stone building adorned with lots of shrubbery, it belies its location on the busy A6 and resembles a cosy country hostelry.

Spicy Chicken Risotto

Inside however, the popular pub and restaurant opens out into a substantial establishment with numerous drinking and dining areas catering for anything from a relaxed pint to a pub lunch, to large family or corporate functions.

Outside, a banner announces they are under new management and promise ‘a new attitude’.

This probably explains the lack of an online presence and could be well timed as some of the interior is looking a little tired and in need of a lick of paint. But we received a very friendly welcome and were shown to a spacious table in the heart of the restaurant and given plenty of time to choose our meals and enjoy a drink.

Predominately Italian in theme, the menu offers a good choice of dishes without being overwhelming – anything from a reasonably priced pizza at £7.95 to fillet medallions for £23.95. There’s breads and nibbles as well as starters, pasta, risotto, wood-fired pizzas and salads, plus a nice selection for the kids.

Kids Spaghetti Bolognese

Our chosen starters were a spicy cauliflower soup, meatball picante and a kid’s garlic bread with tomato.

All piping hot, their simple presentation modestly concealed some delicious flavours – my soup was thick and wholesome with a decent chilli kick while the meatballs proved to be perfectly sized mouthfulls of delicious spicy beef that as a larger portion would have made a delicious main course. The garlic bread had a wood-fired crisp with a rich, sweet tomato topping and there was a slice left for dad as she ‘wanted to leave room for her main’.

Good job she did too! For a fine bowl of spaghetti arrived that would have been plenty for me. And while that was keeping her quiet my spicy chicken risotto was just that – spicy and full of tender chicken. Chunks of chorizo added extra flavour, the rice was soft and filling and everything was encased in a creamy sauce.

But what really lifted the dish was a garnish of pea shoots.

Eton Mess

It gave an unusual alternative to parsley and added a fresh contrast to the rich risotto.

The third and final dish for our party was a towering Halfway House Burger constructed from two 6oz burgers, cheese, bacon, onion rings, relish, fries and a toasted brioche bun. Requiring a knife and fork, it was a little unwieldly but very good quality and he particularly enjoyed the fries which had that ‘Mediterranean’ flavour.

After that, as a certain person was suffering a meat overload, just The Younger and I managed a dessert.

My Eton Mess wasn’t really a mess but it was light and fresh, tart yet sweet. A large slice of chocolate fudge cake proved too much but what she could manage was rich, gooey and dark with chocolate.

The total bill came to £75.20 – reasonable enough with eight drinks and a coffee – and while ‘divine’ may be pushing it a bit, the food was fresh, good quality, plentiful and tasty.

What more could you want? It was a little quiet when we arrived just after midday on a Sunday, but it soon picked up as other families began to arrive. The Mediterranean atmosphere no doubt takes over the restaurant in the evenings and the modern beer garden to the rear offers a lovely space for a drink of a summer’s night.

- It should also be pointed out that between visiting the Halfway House and writing this review, their new website has gone live. You can view their menus, find out about the new management and book online at www.