6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Behind the scenes at the Aviary Restaurant in Ormskirk

PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:31 24 October 2015

Slow Roasted Organic Belly Pork with Sweet Mashed Potatoes, Lea's Black Pudding and Red Wine Jus

Slow Roasted Organic Belly Pork with Sweet Mashed Potatoes, Lea's Black Pudding and Red Wine Jus


Meet the couple who are ruffling feathers in Ormskirk. Emma Mayoh reports

Chef, Michael Maslorz Chef, Michael Maslorz

Ruth and David Lea know how to think outside of the box – in their case it’s the bird box. The couple run The Aviary Restaurant and Lea’s Butchers in Ormskirk. While many dining places’ unique selling point might be the type of food they serve up or an impressive wine list, at the back of this popular eatery there is a huge polytunnel free flight aviary filled with more than 150 exotic birds David has collected. Everything from blur fronted Amazon parrots and kakarikis to finches and blue canaries. David and Ruth said it is the only restaurant of its kind in the world.

David, 52, bred birds during his childhood and has recently reignited bird keeping as one of his hobbies – the couple also keep alpacas and goats on the farm in Blindmans Lane. It is a spectacle that has visitors to Lea’s Butchers and diners at The Aviary visiting time and again.

David said: ‘People are really surprised to see an aviary like the one we have here. They think it is absolutely wonderful. You can sit out in the sun, we have it all day long, and watch the birds. It’s great.

David Lea and one of the resident birds David Lea and one of the resident birds

‘There is really nothing like it that we have discovered. We have other wildlife too and people come here for a real experience.’

But it is not just the birds that have been ruffling feathers. The food coming out of the kitchen at this popular restaurant is first class. It was requests from customers at the butchers that prompted the couple to open somewhere to eat. They had originally intended to open a café serving simple food but it evolved and what they ended up with was much more.

Today, with the help of manager Marco Camacho, they run a restaurant where classic dishes like afternoon teas, Sunday roasts and breakfasts sit on the menu alongside other dishes you would expect in a fine dining venue like grilled sea bass from Neve’s in Fleetwood and organic pork belly from their own butchers – in fact the lion’s share of produce served up to diners comes from Lancashire. The couple credit the staff they have attracted as one of the big catalysts in their change of heart. One of them is head chef Michael Maslorz, who previously worked in a top notch Japanese restaurant in Liverpool.

David and Ruth Lea, the owners David and Ruth Lea, the owners

Ruth said: ‘People are really surprised when they come into The Aviary. They say it has a real wow factor. They don’t expect it. We love seeing that kind of reaction.

‘Michael, or little Mike as we call him, is an incredible chef. He’s really ambitious and very passionate about his menus. He creates stunning, modern dishes. When we knew we would have people like him and Marco on the staff, we knew we wanted it to be more than a café. It’s just evolved and it’s fantastic.’

David and Ruth decided to launch the restaurant in July. They used to run Lancashire Geese, supplying geese to customers during the Christmas period, but that closed. The restaurant was built by David and his two sons, Mike and Tom. They removed many polytunnels on the farm and converted the former geese incubation shed into the beautiful building they have there today. Ruth took care of the lovely interior.

Today, along with Lea’s Butchers, which they have run for three years, they are now pleasing diners who travel from around the county and further afield to eat at The Aviary. They are delighted with how things are progressing. But a confession from Ruth reveals a startling phobia.

‘I hate birds,’ she admitted. ‘Having so many birds where I work and next to where I live wasn’t exactly in my life’s plan. I hate it when they are flapping around your head. I can’t stand it.

‘But I got used to the geese because they were on the ground and I used to close them up every night. But I can’t go into the aviary. It would be too much. Luckily, David has the passion for that side of things. But I love sitting outside and watching them. They are beautiful

‘We are pleased with what we have done here and seeing customers enjoy themselves when they come here is one of the best things for us. We have been constantly surprised about how much people like it here. I remember it as a bird shed. We now want to carry on making people happy and being the best we can.’


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Yesterday, 00:00

Kara Johnson is following in her dad’s footsteps at one of the county’s legendary food producers. Emma Mayoh reports

Read more
Mon, 17:47

Kids eat free every Sunday from 12 - 2 pm at The Feilden’s Arm Mellor Brook.

Read more
Mon, 17:04

Join The Feilden’s Arms at Mellor Brook for their steak night every Thursday from 5pm.

Read more
Mon, 12:36

Tea for two every Wednesday from 5pm at The Feilden’s Arms Mellor Brook.

Read more
Mon, 11:34

Pie and Pud for just £15 all day every Tuesday.

Read more
Friday, May 18, 2018

Our prestigious Food and Drink Awards return this October, and we want your nominations to help find out who is the cream of the crop.

Read more
Friday, May 18, 2018

We have five copies of The Lakes and Cumbria Cook Book for readers.

Read more
Thursday, May 17, 2018

Afternoon tea has grown in popularity as a summer pastime, here are a selection of some of the best on offer across the North West.

Read more
Thursday, May 17, 2018

20 Stories in Spinningfields is Manchester’s newest restaurant to see and be seen in. Janet Reeder went along to check out what chef Aiden Byrne is up to now.

Read more
Manchester Restaurants Spinningfields
Monday, May 14, 2018

Baristas around the country can’t get enough of a special milk produced on a family-run dairy farm in Farleton. Emma Mayoh reports

Read more
Friday, May 11, 2018

A series of projects looks like turning a very good Lakeland hotel into a great one

Read more
Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Cartford Inn chef Chris Bury loves scouring Lancashire’s countryside and coast to find the best foraged food. Emma Mayoh reports.

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

After more than 30 years Andrew and Belinda Wilkinson are back behind the bar at the Lunesdale Arms. Emma Mayoh reports.

Read more
Pubs and Bars
Friday, May 4, 2018

The Titanic Hotel’s beautiful restaurant Stanley’s Bar and Grill has unveiled its new spring menu and you can expect seasonal produce and spring flavours to suit all palettes

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search