Food review - The Red Pump, Bashall Eaves
PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 November 2015 | UPDATED: 19:31 22 November 2015
Michael A. Sewell
This country inn has become a hot ticket for diners who love exceptional steaks cooked to perfection. Martin Pilkington reports
You can drive to the Red Pump Inn at Bashall Eaves the easy way via Waddington or the hard way down Lancashire’s twistiest little lanes. The Good Doctor and I foolishly chose the latter, and arrived last-minute stressed for our booking. Ninety minutes later we left relaxed and decidedly replete.
If we should be eating less red meat, as medics (currently) suggest, then the stuff served here is the sort we should indulge in as a treat. The Red Pump sources its beef from The Ginger Pig, farmers and butchers who raise the best beef breeds the natural way. The animals feed on grass and hay and live the bovine good life to mature properly, after which the meat is hung for around 40 days to develop deeply delicious flavour. Somewhat belatedly, I should warn vegetarians to look away now. However, they are certainly well catered for with some classic dishes on offer. For purposes of this review, though, the carnivore is king.
To offset her meaty main The GD chose a veggie starter of twice-baked cheese and red onion soufflé, its richness cut with a sharp salad centred on pickled beetroot. I went with the meaty flow and opted for the wood pigeon and black pudding, which came with a rocket and tomato salad. Both were cooked perfectly, both accompanying salads were well chosen. The portions were generous and I suppose we could have left some, but we didn’t.
Intrigued by the name as much as anything, my wife ordered the picanha rump, a cut popular in Brazil and Argentina it seems, which came in two pieces and looked like a half-way point between rump and sirloin. She asked for it cooked rare to blue. I had the signature dish of prime rib, served rare with chimichurri sauce (garlic, oregano, parsley, oil and lemon I think), 400g of beef on the bone that looked like a (not too) small roast.
Many English restaurants cook steaks one or more rungs up the doneness ladder from what is ordered; chef Thomas Drinkall got ours bang on. The beef really is superb, tender, full of that whiff-of-the-butcher’s-shop flavour that the best of its kind has. Crisped fat at the edge of my steak was the highlight of a sensational piece of meat. A small salad that looked rather lost beside the grilled meat came with it, and we both chose thick chips rather than mash. In for a penny....
The Red Pump’s dining room (under half-full on our midweek visit, something that as word spreads across Lancashire is likely to change) is very cosy English Inn, with an eclectic selection of wooden tables, comfy old settles and chairs, its walls hung with prints of cockerels. It’s a place to enjoy a meal at leisure, and the waiting staff were good enough to allow us that luxury – happily only one ‘Is everything OK with your meal?’ (we’ve all been to eateries where being asked about it every five minutes prevents conversation and ruins the evening)
Having had a few minutes to digest our protein-fest we ordered puds that had the menu been thrust beneath our noses as the plates were cleared would have seemed beyond us. The Good Doctor predictably went for the lemon brulée, which proved very lemony and with a topping that snapped beneath the spoon. Having enjoyed a rich starter, big steak and richer pudding she had the gall to suggest my choice of sticky toffee pudding on top of the Flintstones-rib could qualify legally as a suicide note. But what a way to go. And anyway, with a delicate little physalis on top and very light sponge it almost qualifies as health food.
Sticky toffee pudding is part of a quiet Lancastrian underpinning to the menu (its ancestral home of Cartmel being in the County Palatine), along with most of the cheese board, Goosnargh duck, perhaps the black pudding and certainly much of the beer list, though I drank the house Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Red Pump offers unpretentious food using top quality ingredients (especially the beef!), expertly cooked and discretely served in pleasant surroundings within a particularly beautiful part of the county. It deserves to thrive. Did I mention the steaks were really good?
Our three courses, plus coffees, bottled water and my two glasses of wine, came to £105 including gratuity.
After dining at The Red Pump you can stay the night. There are eight boutique bedrooms complete with French antique beds, fluffy slippers, comfortable mattresses and powerful wet room showers. It is recommended in Alistair Sawday’s Secret Places and the Good Pub Guide.
The Red Pump, Clitheroe Road, Bashall Eaves, near Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 3DA. 1254 826 227. www.theredpumpinn.co.uk