It would be perverse of a restaurant reviewer not to have the sirloin at The Sirloin Inn.
Like going to Bury and having a white pudding, rice perhaps; to Bakewell and having jam roly poly not the tart; to Eccles and having Chorley cake; to Chorley and having Eccles cake, having Lincoln sausage in Cumberland, to ... well the list goes on.
So a sirloin it is, and it happens to be steak night tonight (Friday, buy one get one free) so everything is as it should be.
Except that the nice tale about King James I (VI of Scotland) thrice bringing down the Royal sword upon the joint when he was staying at Hoghton Tower round the corner and thus launched Sir Loin into history back in 1617 is continually doubted by some spoilsport scholars.
This is their version: it comes instead from the Middle English surloine, itself derived from Old French surlonge, that is, sur la longe ‘above the loin’.
By now we are well into sampling the excellent bitter on offer, and it’s amazing how liquid refreshment tends to promote the more romantic view of things.
The centuries old Sirloin is as stylishly a pub as you could wish: beautiful stonework, subtle colours, log fires roaring, ‘Reserved’ tags on tables, conversation buzzing.
Totally incongruous then that as cosy and settled as we are a stubbornly unclosing door means that a cold waft of air sweeps in around our legs. It’s the door to the kitchen so it’s regularly opened.
The explanation is forthcoming, but not much can be done about it.
Staff are carrying tables up to the restaurant above and this means that an outside door is open.
We have to get up and shut it a couple of times, and the problem niggles throughout the meal.
Both the menu and the wine list – from house wines at £10 to a Bordeaux at £59 – are extensive with lots of surprising choices. I go for one – sardines.
Two whole fish are lightly covered in breadcrumbs, and the flesh is firm, moist and with lots of that distinctive sardine flavour.
A slice of lemon and lots of rockets add sharpness.
The garlic bread starter consists of four garlic infused triangles upon which is melted mozzarella cheese with a hint of brown crustiness on top.
And so to the main event. The steak night steak is an eight pounder, so I go for the a la carte 10 pounder which comes in at £23.
It’s a whopper, rare as requested, seared on the grill, and with caramelised baby onions on top.
With it are whole cherry vine tomatoes warmed to the point of bursting; a Portobello mushroom and more rocket; and I’m paying a bit extra for options of mash and creamed spinach.
It’s a feast, as you can see, and all good, but a little short in justifying the price.
The smoked haddock arrives in a tower structure, centre plate.
At the base is a smooth and creamy mash, then a generous layer of spinach, then a thick piece of succulent and tasty fish, lightly seared on top.
Egg white fluffed by poaching, a richly coloured yolk bursts forth and intermingles with a parmesan cream.
We opt out of desserts, not because they don’t look tempting, they do, but because we are uncharacteristically full.
The bill came in at £53.
Name: The Sirloin Pub & Restaurant
Address: Station Road, Hoghton
Contact: 01254 852293
Details: Midweek market menu Monday to Thursday: Two/three courses £15.95 and £18.95.
Other details: Lots of offers including steak night Friday. Buy one get one free
Wheelchair access: Easy access from front door to bar area and some tables, steps to other tables and upstairs restaurant