Restaurant review - The Hoghton Arms, Withnell

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS       'The Hoghton Arms, Withnell
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS 'The Hoghton Arms, Withnell

Natalie Banks and Josh Vosper have to travel miles to find anywhere to eat

If there’s something talented photographer Josh Vosper and I have in common then it’s our love of food.

In fact, that’s a lie.

We also share a very broad Lancashire accent, and as we embarked on an afternoon in the pub there were rounded vowels galore.

The odd ‘ee love’ was also thrown into the mix for good measure, and we had the perfect recipe for an enjoyable afternoon together.

We’d been set free from the office on one proviso – that we do a restaurant review. Oh the chore!

We had decided to head out in to the sticks of Abbey Village (the further away from Guardian HQ the better due to it being deadline day), but what we believed would be a simple task soon turned into a bit of a challenge, as every eatery we passed had either already been reviewed or was shut.

We travelled down country road after country road, scouring for somewhere for lunch, and after a 20-mile round trip we settled on the Hoghton Arms, in Blackburn Road, Withnell.

By the time we had arrived we hadn’t eaten for a good few hours, a rarity for Josh and I, and our stomachs were rumbling so loud that the staff could probably hear us coming. With that in mind, we didn’t mess around when it came to ordering.

Going for a ‘light’ lunch, Josh opted for the goat’s cheese and caramelised onion bruschetta (£3.45) to start.

In record speed he also threw in a gammon steak for his main, and to top it all off he treated himself to a strawberry waffle cheesecake... with custard.

Cheesecake and custard? I was completely bewildered, but didn’t ponder too long and I read out my own order of chicken tikka masala served with rice, a naan and poppadum.

I decided to skip a starter, but couldn’t refuse a dessert and the chocolate melt in the middle caught my eye.

Sipping on a soft drink each, lemonade for me and cola for Josh, we eagerly awaited our meals.

Josh’s starter soon arrived and he didn’t seem thrilled.

It’s ‘al reet’ he said as he tucked into the bruschetta that looked a little on the burnt side for me.

We decided to hold out for our mains and not long after Josh had polished off his starter, they were brought to our table by a helpful waitress.

I dived in and went straight for the chicken pieces, but they were almost cold in the middle.

The tikka sauce was nice enough and the rice too, but for me the chicken was a letdown and I even got Josh to have a taste to get a second opinion.

He was happier with his gammon and for the first time since I met Josh I found the secret to keeping him quiet... food.

I was still hungry when the waitress took away my plate, and was grateful that I had taken the plunge and gone for a dessert.

The best thing was that Tuesday is Pudding Club, too, and all desserts are just £1.50 each.

The chocolate cake took me straight back to my school days and it really was delicious.

Josh also gave his cheesecake a big thumbs up – even with the custard – that I still can’t get my head around.

I’ve been to the Hoghton Arms before and think I may have just gone for the wrong dish with the tikka as I’ve always had really good food there.

It certainly won’t put me off going back again, but next time I think I’ll try a different main course.

Factfile -

Name: The Hoghton Arms

Address: Blackburn Road, Withnell

Tel: 01254 201083

Website: www.hoghtonarmspub.co.uk

Rating: 7/10