Restaurant Review - Fenwick Arms, Hornby Rd, Claughton, near Lancaster
PUBLISHED: 09:19 04 October 2013 | UPDATED: 21:41 19 January 2016
Lancashire Life award-winner Joycelyn Neve’s latest venture is quite a catch. Roger Borrell reports
I once knew a woman who told me she couldn’t eat anything that had a face. ‘Does that include fish?’ I asked. How she grimaced. ‘What about a crab?’ She went puce. ‘Shrimps, mussels, oysters?’ She made like a small boy pretending to vomit into a bag.
I don’t think she fancied anything that came out of the sea unless it was David Beckham in Speedos. It’s a complaint that afflicts many (fear of fish, not the Becks thing). Vegetarians I can understand, but if you are prepared to eat greasy chicken flown across continents and served in a plastic bucket why not a lovely fresh, bright-eyed sea bass from Fleetwood?
This fear even has its own name: ichthyophobia. You can’t help but feel sorry for any ichthyophobiac who has gone through life without sampling the delights of eating hot fish and chips straight from the paper. So, if you are one of the afflicted, look away now because we are talking fish, and nothing but fish.
More prevalent than fear of fish is the fear of cooking it. It looks fiendishly complicated, probably because it all happens so quickly and there are no second chances. A bit like a row with the wife.
Done well, it can knock spots off anything on four legs and if you want to see it done well head off to The Fenwick in the north Lancashire village of Claughton.
They say there is no such thing as bad publicity. But when Gordon Ramsay filmed an episode of Kitchen Nightmares here several years back, the excitable chef poured a vat of the pub’s gravy into a pothole on the A683. He argued it moved around so little that it was better suited to mending roads. This was the place where the campaign for real gravy was born and the place it died. Road kill.
This half-timbered roadside inn has now been given a new lease of life by The Seafood Pub Company. This expanding little empire is run by Joycelyn Neve, a surname instantly recognisable to anyone who knows the Fleetwood fishing industry.
The Fenwick has the décor of a classic dining pub with painted woodwork, quality mix and match furniture. The welcome is warm and attentive from a staff that is eager to please without being obsequious. We went though the specials board. A crab salad was fresh a fresh as a daisy, brought to life by a lovely light lemon mayonnaise. The second starter, my favourite, was an oily, unctuous fillet of mackerel with fresh orange wedges.
The main courses continued to impress. A plump, snow white piece of cod came perched on a terracotta dish of divinely soupy haricot beans and shredded ham hock while the show-stopper was a whole plaice freshly plucked from Morecambe Bay. This substantial chap was dressed to the nines with a set of peeled broad beans for buttons. A lovely earthy sauce almost had it flapping on the plate.
From start to finish, we had top class ingredients and excellent cooking. There was nothing fishy for dessert so we gave it a miss but it contained some good looking stuff, including a steamed syrup sponge. And, if any ichthyophobiacs have stayed with me to the end, there are meat and chicken dishes and just about enough for veggies to avoid malnutrition.
Fenwick Arms, Hornby Rd, Claughton, near Lancaster. LA2 9LA