Eating Out in and around Preston: Out Lane Social at Croston brings a taste of a Cornish summer holiday right here to Lancashire

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Days by the seaside watching the sun go down as you sip a glass of something chilled are just a dream.

And yet, you can actually conjure up the spirit of Cornwall at a small Lancashire town thanks to a new restaurant at its heart.

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Out Lane Social – so named because of its location on Out Lane in Croston and the desire of the proprietor to create a place where people can socialise as well as eat – serves seafood from Cornish harbours shipped overnight as well as dry-aged beef steaks from a local butcher.

Out Lane Social at CrostonOut Lane Social at Croston
Out Lane Social at Croston

For those of us who can’t wait for a trip down to the West Country later in the year, it sounded just the ticket.

The restaurant is on the site of one of our former favourites, Fresco Fresco, so we were interested to see how much had changed.

Inside has been transformed, with leather banquet seating, wooden floors and plenty of sepia pictures depicting Croston of old. There are also a few stools and a table close to the bar where a group of young folk were enjoying a bottle of wine and socialising as directed.

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But we were there to try the food. As well as the main menu, there was a series of specials on the blackboard, including smoked salmon, roast sirloin steak and free-range chicken two ways.

Out Lane Social at Croston: Cornish CrabOut Lane Social at Croston: Cornish Crab
Out Lane Social at Croston: Cornish Crab

My eyes alighted on a couple of specials which sounded irresistible. An unusual surf and turf starter and Cornish seabass in clam chowder. That was me sorted.

Across the table, husband Bob stuck with the main menu, opting for Cornish crab on toast and Lobster Thermidor.

The friendly waiter brought us a jug of water, plus a soft drink for me (the driver) and a pint of Pint (yes, it really is called that!) for Bob.

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A 15-minute wait – just long enough to take in the atmosphere – brought our starters. The Cornish crab, both white and dark meat, was pronounced top notch by the man who has eaten enough of it on holiday to know the good stuff. The pickled cucumber and capers were the perfect accompaniment.

Out Lane Social at Croston: Cornish seabass in clam chowderOut Lane Social at Croston: Cornish seabass in clam chowder
Out Lane Social at Croston: Cornish seabass in clam chowder

My starter was a thing of beauty. Slow-cooked confit belly pork which yielded on the touch of the fork, alongside some perfectly cooked hand-dived small scallops, with blobs of sweet potato and apple sauce. I’m not usually one to mix meat and fish in one dish, but this was delicious and made me realise that there is an assured hand at work here...a great start.

Our main courses were just as impressive. The Thermidor consisted of half a sweet tasting lobster with salad and a side dish of parmesan fries. I suspect Bob could have eaten the other half of that lobster too..but it was a lovely dish nonetheless.

My choice featured two fillets of seabass, perfectly cooked again with crispy skin and flaky fish, sitting on top of a dish of clam chowder with tiny potatoes, corn and pancetta. It was a rich dish, but delicious too. A side of chips wasn’t really needed but was good.

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And this is my one gripe with Out Lane Social. All the side dishes had to be ordered separately, chips, potatoes, vegetables – even though the main courses are not cheap.

Out Lane Social at Croston: Lobster ThermidorOut Lane Social at Croston: Lobster Thermidor
Out Lane Social at Croston: Lobster Thermidor

Why not put an extra pound on the cost of the dish and serve a few spuds and veg with them – it will make people feel like they are not only getting top quality grub but great value for money too.

Our bill came in at £110 for the two of us. Not inexpensive, but this is an accomplished chef serving up excellent ingredients backed up by good service from knowledgeable staff. It’s the kind of place which deserves to do well.

And you can’t really put a price on the feeling that close your eyes and you could be on a Cornish beach.....