Lancashire Life Luncheon - Angels Restaurant, near Ribchester

PUBLISHED: 17:26 26 July 2011 | UPDATED: 22:09 21 October 2015

Lancashire Life Luncheon - Angels Restaurant, near Ribchester

Lancashire Life Luncheon - Angels Restaurant, near Ribchester

Diners at this month's Lancashire Life lunch discovered an angelic treat in the Ribble Valley. Emma Mayoh reports Photography by Kirsty Thompson

The Dining RoomThe Dining Room

The print version of this article appeared in the August 2011 issue of Lancashire Life 

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It is a bold claim to say a restaurant is the best you have ever eaten at. But Jim and Enid Worden know what they are talking about. For the past few years, the Lostock Hall couple have made their monthly pilgrimage to Angels Restaurant, near Ribchester, for the latest dose of their favourite foods. Visiting friends are always brought here to sample the menu and the couple make the more than 30 mile trip in a taxi every Christmas Day to make their festive season extra special.

It is high praise indeed for owners Nick and Shaun Ford who three years ago transformed the building, which has formerly been the Cross Keys Inn and an Italian restaurant. Now it is a chic, striking restaurant you’d expect to see in a city centre rather than a countryside retreat on the outskirts of Ribchester.

The success of Angels has been in no small part down to the skill displayed by their small kitchen team, including head chef Simon Eastham. Under his stewardship the menus are packed with modern British food celebrating the best of what our great county has to offer. The 43-year-old, who began training to be a chef in his hometown of Blackburn when he was 15, also has big ambitions to get a listing in the exclusive Michelin guide.

He said: ‘It is about time they came to see us here at Angels. I think at the very least we should expect a Bib Gourmand. We have put a lot of hard work in and I think we deserve it.’

Michelin judges, take note. The inspired menu at the Lancashire Life lunch was certainly worthy of their attention. Canapés of trout risotto balls and delicate quail eggs with droplets of curried mayonnaise started the proceedings well. A refreshing Baron de Beaupre Brut Champagne was the perfect companion.

A well-executed starter of grilled watermelon, pearl drops of whipped feta, cubes of tomato jelly, orange and yellow plum tomatoes and micro leaves left unsure diners at our table correcting their premature judgement of the unusual dish. The Picpoul de Pinet 2010 from southern France, introduced by Neil Goldie from specialist wine and champagne merchants House of Townend, complemented the dish perfectly.

A main of blade of beef, slow braised for six hours, showed off the expert skills in the kitchen. This cut of meat, which was sourced from just a few miles down the road at Hothersall, may not be normally considered the top choice for fine dining but was so tender it barely required a knife. The dish, served with spinach, crushed Jersey potatoes, broad beans and peas, was a huge success.

A light dessert of an intensely-flavoured Bucks Fizz parfait, iced chocolate mousse with a crunchy honeycomb and strawberries was the ideal way to finish the meal before enjoying delicious petit fours including a light, crumbly coconut fudge.

Like all the times before, and like the many diners at this special lunch, Jim and Enid left as satisfied customers. But they also left with a promise to return for another meal the next evening. There is surely no better compliment than that.

Angels Restaurant, Fleet Street Lane, Ribchester, PR2 3ZA, 01254 820212

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