Barry Freeman managed to pack away one last colossal meat and two lunch of the season at the Midge Hall pub/restaurant near Leyland
Paint the words ‘Country Pub and Dining’ on the side of your eaterie and rest assured, customers will roll-up with rigid, if modest, expectations.
Simple well-made meals. Quality ingredients. And value for money (or, put another way, generous portions).
Midge Hall pub/restaurant in Midge Hall Lane, near Leyland, has thrived offering just such fare, thus breakfast was early and light on the day – New Year’s Day, in fact – we set out to lunch there.
The sturdy white partially ivy-clad building certainly looks the rustic part, bluff and no nonsense. Things get a little more snazzy inside, a smattering of modern decor breaking up the wood and brass, but not enough to lose that cosy traditional feel.
Ordering was straightforward. The menu is small – albeit well-varied, and with a fair offer of fish and veggie dishes – the daily special selection likewise, and my own main course was pretty much settled in advance.
Having drunk and nibbled here previously – there is a reasonable bar menu, salads, sandwiches, etc. – I’d many mouthwatering steaks exit the kitchen, so the 9oz sirloin with chips, tomatoes, mushrooms, side salad and pepper sauce was always my destiny.
To start, a flirtation with heartburn called ‘Fritter Platter’ – battered haggis, black pudding and white pudding.
Across the table a slow-cooked lamb shank was quickly identified as the main, with mash ‘n’ veg, and the pub’s own recipe chicken liver pate with homemade onion marmalade for an opener.
Food as simple as you like. What can go wrong?
Very little, it turned out. The pate was rich in flavour, light in texture, like a good chicken liver pate should be, and the onion marmalade –while neither sweet nor sticky enough to qualify as a marmalade – had a tangy fresh taste that saw it enjoyed as a decent chutney. One bum note, likely due to seasonal kitchen crisis, the two accompanying hunks of garlic bread.
Garlic bread? I won’t repeat the joke, but a shortage of fresh bread seems the only sensible reason to risk overwhelming everything else on the plate with pungent bland bulk, however tasty.
The Fritter Platter, a disaster cack-handedly handled, was great. Piping hot comfort food for wintry climes.
Thin, crackly crisp batter, neatly encased four handsome hunks of offal pudding, thereby preventing them sucking up half the fat in the pan. Fluffy steaming spicy haggis in particular was a joy, and a forkful got set aside early on to be my ‘last bite’ of the course.
Onto the mains, again, food so Route One there could be no degrees of right or wrong, merely a tick or a cross.
Two ticks it was.
A shank of tender sweet lamb which – although not the largest joint ever to grace a bowlful of rich brown cooking juices dotted with tiny shallots – packed meat right down to its slim bone.
The accompanying mash mountain was plenty buttery, mildly cheesy, thorughly heartwarming. The vegetables erred on the well-done side, but were clearly fresh and went down with relish.
A similar story my side of the table, where an excellent slice of beef had been cooked only a touch off perfection – if you want rare I’d suggest adding a ‘very’ – but was succulent and oozing pinkly enough that I was scarcely perturbed.
The chips were crisp chewy double-fried delicious and piled high, the sauce, pepper-hot, creamy and profuse, the mush and toms nicely griddled, every box ticked.
Well, every box bar the side salad which was actually a garnish on a side plate. Fresh, crunchy, but for the sake of just half a dozen leaves more...
Dessert unthinkable, we called the bill. At £46 – food having been washed down with corporation pop and two splendid cask ales (Timothy Taylor Boltcutter and Joseph Holt Two Hoots) – a fair tab.
In quality, quantity and value the Midge Hall does exactly – ‘Country Dining’ – what it says on the inn.
Midge Hall Country Pub & Dining
15 Midge Hall Lane, LEYLAND PR26 6TN