Lancashire Life Luncheon - The Oyster & Otter, Feniscowles

PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 January 2019

Venison haunch with dauphinoise potato, confit carrots, savoy cabbage with dark chocolate and red wine jus

Venison haunch with dauphinoise potato, confit carrots, savoy cabbage with dark chocolate and red wine jus


Lancashire Life went back to where it all began for one of the north’s most successful dining pub companies and we weren’t disappointed

They say you never forget your first love and if you apply that to Joycelyn Neve’s working life, there is one place that will forever have a special place in her heart.

That’s the Oyster & Otter, the first venue she opened some seven years back. Since then, the Seafood Pub Company has opened a further ten dining pubs, most of them in Lancashire – several with rooms – and, more recently, in Yorkshire. A group of investors, who know a good thing when they see it, have provided the funds for further expansion across the north of England so watch this space.

After such a sudden surge of growth you might think the old Oyster & Otter was in danger of being a bit neglected; a little left behind in the love stakes. Not a bit of it. This was the venue for our most recent Lancashire Life luncheon and the good news is this pub is still whip-smart with classic furnishings, attentive staff and some outstanding food.

We’ve been to most of Joycelyn’s dining pubs over the years and I’m pleased to say this one is up there with the finest. The fact that it has a new general manager, Andrew Mallott, and a new head chef, Steven Mayren, has, if anything, re-invigorated the inn.

Head chef, Steven Mayren (left) and his team Aidan Parker, Moustafa Eltoukhy and Jordan FoyHead chef, Steven Mayren (left) and his team Aidan Parker, Moustafa Eltoukhy and Jordan Foy

Joycelyn has impeccable credentials to run food establishments. Her father, Chris, is a legendary figure in the food industry having provided fish to top hotels and restaurants for decades. He and his wife, Janet, were among the guests and just a few minutes in his company left you in no doubt that his passion for supplying top quality fish is, if anything, more intense than ever.

As a teenager, Joycelyn attended a Lancashire Life lunch with her parents and that inspired her to open a restaurant with the goal of hosting her own lunch.

Since launching the Seafood Pub Company she has hosted several and picked up a host of national and regional awards, including a hatful from the Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards. While the Oyster & Otter’s front of house team ensured guests received a warm welcome, the new head chef and his team were keen to display their culinary skills. Steven Mayren, from Charnock Richard, has been in charge for just over three months. He was previously at the Lakeside at Newby Bridge, the Barton Grange and he also spent time in the kitchen at Marco Pierre White’s Yew Tree.

He learned to bake with his grandmother and was cooking in a pizza restaurant at the tender age of 14. His all round skills allow him to apply some Lancashire twists as well as local produce to classic dishes.

Hilary and Andrew McLean with Adam Czyzewski and Jason Crowder-BartonHilary and Andrew McLean with Adam Czyzewski and Jason Crowder-Barton

We started with beautifully fresh queenie scallops with a creamy celeriac puree, crisp pancetta and apple batons – light, full of flavour and beautifully presented.

The main course was a generous helping of sliced venison haunch – well seared on the outside and pink in the middle. Overcook venison and you’ll need your best teeth to get through it. This was tender and yielding and it came with a classic dark chocolate and red wine sauce. Lick-the-plate good.

Dessert was another show-stopper – a sticky toffee fondant that oozed in all the right places, its intense sweetness balanced by salted caramel ice-cream.

Thanks to social media, everyone is a critic these days so I decided to sit back and enjoy lunch while asking my table companions to jot down their opinions.

The relaxed surroundings of the Oyster & OtterThe relaxed surroundings of the Oyster & Otter

‘Excellent venue, very friendly staff and very knowledgeable about their food and wine. Smiley face,’ wrote one.

‘Fabulous meal, a real treat. The venison perfectly cooked, an interesting touch with the chocolate sauce – one to pinch for Christmas day!’ saide another.

‘Excellent food, well presented, well cooked and a good balance.’

‘Great décor and lovely ambience. Food was excellent, and the dessert was a particular highlight.’

I saved the best to last – a comment that summed up all our thoughts. It was simply: ‘YUM!’

The Oyster & Otter, Livesey Branch Road, Feniscowles, Blackburn, BB2 5DQ.

01254 203200.

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