Jenny Simpson turns back the clock with a trip to a favourite city centre pub.
It didn’t start out as a restaurant review.
The intention when we dropped into the New Continental one Sunday afternoon was to have a quick drink and meet a friend. But we got too comfortable in the cosy snug room at the front of this riverside pub, and soon afternoon had rolled into dinner time.
The Conti feels a bit like visiting an old friend. My other half and I used to pop in all the time before we abandoned Preston to live in the sticks. However, it was nice to see it has had a spruce up with some clean new décor since we last crossed the threshold.
The snug, complete with huge open fire, at the front of the pub welcomes dogs and there were almost more pets than people when we arrived – if only more city pubs were so pooch-friendly.
Happily, there is also a section at the back of the dining area where dogs are allowed, so we grabbed the last remaining table and a menu.
The Continental| www.newcontinental.net| South Meadow Lane, Preston, Lancashire PR1 8JP - 01772 499425|
The Conti has just launched its spring/summer menu and it was clearly proving popular in the packed restaurant. Our waitress told us there would be a bit of a wait for food as they were so stretched, but having been warned, we didn’t mind, especially as she was friendly and polite when she did arrive to take our order.
The starters, including the Garstang Blue cheese panacotta and marinated wood pigeon, looked amazing, but we decided the desserts were even more tantalising and that we should save space for those instead.
There was a decent range of main courses, including half a dozen salads and plenty of veggie, vegan and gluten-free options. My dining partner decided to stick with tradition and order Sunday roast – but unfortunately, so had everyone else so there were none left by early evening. Instead, baked sausages of the day were quickly substituted for roast, while I chose the garlic and rosemary pan-fried chicken (£12.50).
The food was worth the bit of a wait. The chunky sausages came piled high and thick with delicious onion gravy atop a tasty bubble and squeak mash, and were great value at £8.95.
My chicken was neatly presented on a moreish bed of celeriac mash, with a gorgeous, meaty red wine and wild mushroom sauce bringing out the flavours in the white meat.
A few different types of veg to add to the sugar snap peas would have rounded it off nicely, but at least I was left with a little room for dessert.
My vanilla bean and white Belgian chocolate pots (£4.95) were beautifully presented, with the chocolate sauces in tiny jars on an artfully arranged slate plate, but it didn’t take me long to dismantle it and enjoy the rich, but not overpowering, chocolate flavours.
My dining partner had the last slice of sticky toffee pudding from the specials menu – but we wondered if it was a double portion as the slab of pud which arrived was so enormous. It was a challenge to finish it off but the light sponge and creamy toffee sauce made it worth the effort.
The bill came to a reasonable £34 with a beer and a juice.
Fingers crossed for warmer weather on our next visit so we can enjoy the beer garden too!