Robert Kelly relived his university days with a pal - and just like his student life, kept his eye on the cost
January is the month where we all feel the financial pinch so I had mixed feelings when one of my friends from university said he was in town and wanted to go out for a meal.
I jumped at the chance thinking that he would be paying me back for all those late nights out and the number of pints that I had bought him while we were studying.
However, after considering the fact that he had travelled all the way from Cornwall to see me I decided to dig deep in my pocket to rustle up every last penny to pay for lunch.
The last time I saw him was at my wedding over a year-and-a-half ago and then we were rushing about on the day trying to make sure everything was prepared and ready.
So it was quite ironic that we opted to go to the Hartwood pub - where it all began with the ushers and friends and family met up.
My pal Simon and I have changed a lot since then - notably my waistline by a couple of inches - and the Hartwood has also undergone a brand new look and feel.
The weather outside was dark and gloomy but inside the restaurant was bright and welcoming.
Even though it was lunchtime it was still busy ranging from people like us on a working lunch to those who were breaking their journey on the nearby M61.
Anyway, I weighed up the options on their new menu, which includes an inviting ‘Two for £10’ section.
They included the traditional classics such as scampi and chips, gammon steak and chicken burger but also now boasted Italian style chicken, a big breakfast and chicken and bacon salad.
Anyone who has read my restaurant reviews knows that I have to go the whole hog and try to pack in three courses.
I was tempted by the chicken nachos (£3.39) or the cheesy wedges (£3.29) which tickled my fancy but Simon was wanting to make it a quick lunch so we plumped straight for the mains.
He chose the Fayre and Square cheeseburger (£6.29) which was a 6oz square burger in a toasted bun with Heinz burger sauce topped with mature Cheddar cheese served with chips and coleslaw.
Meanwhile, I chose the Fayre and Square Boroughbridge sausages and mash (£7.29) which was also on the ‘Two for £10’ menu.
We sat back and reminisced about the good old days but I felt at home in the bustling surroundings and banter which made me feel like I had not left the Guardian offices.
Despite having already chosen our meals I could not help but be impressed by some of the eye-catching main course such as honey and soy tuna (£7.29), firecracker chicken which was a chicken breast topped with a spicy Heinz Firecracker sauce and mozzarella cheese served with chips and coleslaw (£7.29).
There were also lots of options for vegetarians including Quorn chilli (£6.69) or vegetable lasagne (£6.69) and both of these options were on the ‘Two for £10’ menu
Anyway the meals arrived in double-quick time and after missing out on breakfast - not for the first time -I was ravenous like
The sausages were meaty just like the ones that you get from a a butcher’s shop and it was a rare treat for me to eat meat as my wife is a pescatarian.
They were filled with taste bud-tingling herbs while the onion gravy and peas were perfect additions.
The mashed potatoes were creamy and well-seasoned and I probably saved a bit of money from the dishwashing because there was not a drop of sauce or mash on the plate.
Meanwhile, Simon seemed to take an age to break through the mound of food on his plate and gradually slowed down after his burger.
All in all two empty plates and the demands of getting back to work dictated my lunch eating pattern despite being interested by the profiteroles (£2.29) and black forest gateaux (£3.79).
The menu has at the Hartwood has plenty of choice and has something for everyone - whether you are on a tight budget or want an extravagant meal out.
All I know is that I have many happy memories of the Hartwood and I am hoping there will be more.
Name: Hartwood Hall Hotel and Restaurant
Address: Preston Road, Chorley near the M61 roundabout
Cuisine: Traditional good pub grub with plenty of options for vegetarians.