Lancashire Life Reader Lunch - The Railway Gastro Pub, Euxton
PUBLISHED: 19:32 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 22:07 21 October 2015
Ray King takes a trip to Euxton's latest gastropub for a first class Lancashire Life luncheon
IT'S taken a substantial investment in time, effort and money but, at last, the Railway is firmly back on track.
Under the guidance of Paul Rogers, his wife Wendy and their business partner Shaun Leatherbarrow, the line-side pub just outside Euxton, near Preston, has become one of the rising culinary stars in central Lancashire.
Oh yes, and Network Rail have spent £9bn on upgrading that other railway, the West Coast Main Line.
I'd passed through Euxton many times on trains en route to conferences in Blackpool and often wondered why a small village had such a gigantic railway station. Now I know - it served the nearly former Royal Ordnance Factory that, at its peak, employed 40,000 people making munitions for the war effort.
It's likely the Railway pub slaked many a cordite-induced thirst in those days - it's certainly built on the grand scale. Latterly, however, it fell on such hard times that even a troupe of pole dancers (such imagination!) couldn't save it.
Then, in April 2008, along came Paul with a much simpler but far more effective vision and guests who gathered at the Railway for February's Lancashire Life luncheon were able to toast a well deserved success story when the welcoming bubbly was uncorked. Not only was the Railway highly commended in this year's Lancashire Life Food and Wine Awards for Casual Dining but was named Newcomer of the Year 2008/9 in the Marston's Food and Wine Awards, staged with great ceremony at the Belfry golf resort last November.
Despite 20 years experience in the food and beverage business, eight of them working as general manager in four and five star hotels, Paul is something a newcomer to the art of running a pub, but his approach - concentrating on a warm welcome and freshly prepared, hearty traditional food, proudly sourced from local suppliers - fits in exactly with the prevailing culinary zeitgeist. Indeed the team have already expanded the winning formula developed at the Railway to the Hind's Head in Wrightington.
There are no haughty reservations here about using the term gastropub - indeed both the Railway and the Hind's Head are so tagged - and the description, better than any other, describes a business which combines the attractions of a traditional pub with those of a restaurant serious about food. There's a special welcome for children, too.
Lunch, prepared by Thomas Lowe, the ex-Heathcote's chef who launched the Railway and is now at the Hind's Head, and his successor Sean Nind, was a splendid affair - based on the menu that was cooked for the Marston's triumph.
We started with that classic of the British Raj, sumptuous kedgeree with perfectly done spice-infused rice generously endowed with moist chunks of proper smoked haddock, peas and parsley and topped with a just-so, soft poached egg. The wine partnership, described by Piers Mortimer of Corney & Barrow, was inspired: rich, spicy Gewurztraminer 2006 from Cave de Cleeborg, Alsace, whose delicious lychee flavours complimented the dish's mild curry spice.
The main course paid fulsome homage to region and season, featuring roasted suckling pig, meltingly tender and surrounded by the most amazing crackling. The Romans call this porchetta; but when in Lancashire, do as the Railway does - with piglets from Barry Pugh's farm near Garstang. The accompanying Anna potato cake was skilfully crafted and layered with black pudding from H Greaves & Son of Up Holland, excellent with the pork, and a fine dish was completed by flavoursome buttered kale and glazed autumn fall Cox's apples.
Fleurie 2006 from Mommessin in Beaujolais, soft and chock-full of delicious raspberry fruit, provided the ideal foil.
Pudding comprised a thoroughly modern take on an old favourite - treacle, cranberry and ginger tart topped off with sumptuous thick cream from Rowlands Dairy, Mawdesley - with which the honeyed but uncloying sweetness of 2003 Chateau Septy Monbazillac made a delightful marriage.
The Railway Gastro Pub, Wigan Road, Euxton, Chorley. PR 7 6LA
Tel: 01257 275005; www.therailwayeuxton.co.uk
Food service: Mon-Sat - lunch noon-2.30pm; dinner 5.30pm-9pm. Sun & Bank Holidays - noon-8pm.
A la carte starters (or light lunches) £4.25-£5.95; main courses £8.95-£17.50; desserts £3.95-£5.95. Fixed price menu £10.95 for two courses Mon-Fri noon-2.30pm; Mon-Thu 5.30pm-7.30pm.
Children's menu: £5.00 for two courses; £7.50 for three.