As a former wedding venue, Haighton Manor has certainly offered a wow factor for brides and grooms planning their perfect day.
So with the historical country manor reopening its doors as a pub, it was hard to envisage exactly what we would be greeted with as we turned up Haighton Green Lane.
What a transformation.
For those who may never had ventured to the 17th-century house it was first converted as a wedding venue and restaurant in the 1970s and held a gothic castle like charm.
It might not make me popular with all, but on my previous visit it definitely felt it was time for a facelift of sorts and this investment has paid off.
The ambience is just right, whether you’re looking for a weekend drink (dogs welcome), a light bite, an intimate evening meal to a nice family occasion or an evening out with friends – the place has been fitted out with all this in mind.
There are a mixture of small and larger dining spaces, an inviting bar area, modern vintage in design, a concept which runs throughout, retaining that rustic feel of old.
In addition there is a new extended garden room which looks over the grounds (with a small play area) and the surrounding countryside. For my husband to have noticed all these things, it must have hit the right note.
His final verdict would have come down to the beer, unfortunately for him, he was driving. However, he did take a tour over the cask ales, scouting them ‘for my dad’.
A ‘while you wait’ cocktail menu is a nice touch and the daily menu offered the right number of meals without being overfacing.
A ‘Charcuterie board’ was an easy option for starters, not cheap at £16.95 but a nice selection of cured meats, chicken liver pate, stuffed peppers, pickles, olives and a side of toasted granary bread.
It was complemented with a pleasant chutney, not-too-sweet which cut through the richness of the meat.
Torn between the pork tenderloin and steak burger I eventually asked for the Lancashire hotpot with pickled red cabbage (£13.95), the other half tempted by Mrs Kirkham’s cheese, potato and onion pie, greens (£11.95) and a side of fries.
Served up in a piping hot pot, the plate looked deceivingly empty but the meat was beautifully tender with a rich gravy, carrots to add a touch of sweetness and crispy potato top. It is a simple stew but a good job of this northern classic
Asking my husband about his pie, he replied ‘have a taste of this carrot it’s the best I’ve ever tasted’.
I wasn’t sure what to make of that but assumed it must be a good thing.
A friendly team of staff were attentive throughout, happy to top up drinks and bring out more bread the minute we asked – we were impressed and a glance around the buzzing pub, the faces of other diners told a similar tale.
With room to just squeeze in a lemon meringue roulade the final bill came in at £63.
Haighton Manor is now one of the Brunning and Price chain but the modern renovation, fitting with their model, suits this traditional venue without leaving it soulless.
The manor has in no doubt been stripped back to the very heart but with it brought back to life some of the hidden features they have unearthed along the way. Try it for yourself.