by Debbie Clarke
Experts have picked their favourites for Sunday lunch, picturesque settings, craft beer, history and more with these North West pubs all listed - Assheton Arms in Downham, Lancs; The Punch Bowl, Crosthwaite, Cumbria; The Old Crown, Hesket, New Market, Cumbria; Britons Protection, Manchester and Port Street Beer House in Manchester.
Assheton Arms has been named as one of the top 10 best for Sunday lunch. According to the Guardian, the pub's drinking and dining areas have big flagstones, wood-burners and a fine kitchen range, cushioned pews and photos. There are also non-traditional Sunday lunches available such as miso-glazed pork belly with baby pak choi and sesame sauce (£15.95), and a vegetarian imam bayildi with couscous and fattoush salad (£11.95). There are local ales on hand pump, a dozen wines by the glass and farm cider.
The Punch Bowl has also been named as one of the top 10 for Sunday lunch in the guide. This slate-roofed inn has been welcoming customers since the 16th century. It’s stylish yet relaxed, with a busy public bar where there are Barngates and Bowness ales, 15 wines (including champagne and prosecco) by the glass, malt whiskies and local damson gin. The guide describes the food as "faultless with dishes that include roast lamb loin and braised shoulder with crispy haggis, onion purée and hotpot vegetables (£25.50), and veggie options such as beetroot gratin with wild mushroom and gruyère crust (£14.50)."
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The Old Crown is listed as one of the 10 best community-run pubs. Community ownership of Hesket Newmarket Brewery came first, in 1999, and it was only a few years later that the villagers came together to buy the pub. There’s an open fire, black-and-white prints on the wall and mugs and jugs hanging from wooden beams. The guide also notes "the beer at this stone-build pub is made next door." House favourites are named as Doris’s 90th Birthday Ale and Cumberland sausage with onion gravy for £10.50.
Britons Protection in Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester is listed as one of 10 of the best historic pubs in the guide. In its listing, the guide says, "During the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, the 15th Hussars and the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry – consisting largely of local businessmen – rode past this pub on their way to slaughter unarmed civilians. The place had a different name then, but according to legend it acquired its new one when it sheltered people from the carnage. The story is told in murals on the pub’s walls." House favourites are named as Britons Protection and the pie of the day for £7.95.
The Port St Beer House in Port Street, Manchester is named as one of the 10 best craft beer pubs in the guide. With a warm warm, lively atmosphere and staggering choice, the guide states that "Port Street remains the benchmark Manchester beer experience." It notes a well-kept pint of progressive Northern cask (Magic Rock, Pomona, Squawk), to more unusual keg collabs such as Mutants, a 9 per cent ABV imperial porter and IPA blend from Lisbon’s Dois Corvos and the Bulgarian White Stork. House favourites include Track Sonoma to drink and a 'Manchester egg' (Scotch egg with black pudding sausage) at £3.50.