Does the Red Pump Inn in Bashall Eaves serve the best steak in Lancashire?
PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 September 2017
The steaks are high at the Red Pump Inn in Bashall Eaves. Mairead Mahon reports
Jonathan Gledhill has spent a significant part of his life learning about steak cooking in Europe and Argentina. In fact, the first meal he prepared for wife Fran was a romantic steak dinner. So they jumped at the opportunity to take on The Red Pump at Bashall Eaves and turn it into a steak restaurant in 2014.
And what they have created is no ordinary steak venue. Since opening, it has been listed in Alistair Sawday’s Guide to Secret Places and The Good Pub Guide and diners come from as far afield as mainland Europe to sample its delights.
‘It’s something we’re really pleased about. But we work hard to get the best,’ said Jonathan. ‘Most people wouldn’t blindly choose a piece of cheese or select a wine without any thought. The same applies to steak, which has its own subtleties of flavour. The best steak deserves respect.
‘Our menu contains some tasting notes but even before it makes it on to the menu, we take care to select the right breed for the cut. For instance, a rump taken from a Galloway Short Horn would be too small but the breed lends itself perfectly to a fillet.’
Their steak supplier, Ginger Pig, normally reserves its meat for top restaurants in London and Paris. But Jonathan was determined The Red Pump would make it onto their select list.
Ginger Pig were so impressed with Jonathan and his passion for steak they took the unprecedented step of delivering to him. Now, the Red Pump is the only UK restaurant outside the capital to serve their steaks.
‘We couldn’t be more delighted,’ he said. ‘As well as having various breeds of cattle that graze on a natural diet of grass and hay, the meat is also perfectly aged.
‘It takes 40 days to age our sirloin and for our rib eye, a lengthy 90 days. It is worth it as it gives a beautiful marshmallow tenderness. The first time I saw the Ginger Pig vacuum fridges, I thought I had made a mistake and stumbled into NASA.’
The stunning cuts of meat are all prepared using expert knowledge from Lancastrian Thomas Drinkall. He has cooked all over the world, from exclusive private dining in the French Alps to char-grilling on the beaches of Australia. He chooses to serve steaks simply.
‘With steaks like ours, that is all that’s needed,’ said Jonathan. ‘They come out of the fridge, are left to gently come to room temperature, are placed on the griddle, turned three times, carefully seasoned to finish and then served.
‘That’s how we like it. Seriously good uncomplicated food, influenced by our love of provincial cuisine.’
Jonathan and Fran both like their steaks cooked medium rare but, naturally, a steak can be cooked any way a diner chooses. Although so far, no-one at the Red Pump has asked for a B and B!
‘When I was cooking in Argentina, a B and B order came in,’ remembered Jonathan. ‘It perplexed me but, using my initiative, I thought it referred to bread and butter and so served it with some.
‘When the hilarity died down, I was told it actually referred to black and blue: black on the outside and blue on the inside. In Lancashire, some people mention they don’t like too much blood in their steak but because our steaks are not wet aged, that is never a problem no matter how it’s cooked.’
There is some Argentinian influence on the menu in the Picanha steak, which is the best part of the rump. It is thinly sliced and served with chimichurri sauce. While steak is the stand-out item on the menu there are other locally sourced dishes, including the recipe for beef bourguignon that Jonathan’s father loved to cook. There’s also Fran’s Irish stew and fish chowder. Success does have its downsides though.
‘We do a fantastic roast rib of beef for Sunday lunch,’ said Jonathan. ‘Fran and I look forward to enjoying it all day only to find, more often than not, that it has completely sold out.
‘Sunday supper for us is often beans on toast. But it’s a small price to pay for people enjoying our food.’
Food review - The Red Pump, Bashall Eaves (November 2015)