The tales of a half-Spanish, Southern guy with Yorkshire roots living in Bolton and looking for some half-decent grub

Monday 12 June 2017

Provenance Food Hall & Restaurant, Westhoughton

Bolton is a big town - after living here for 9 years there are many parts of it that I have still not been to.   

One of the things I love about living here is that despite its size, it has a strong community spirit. So when somewhere new and exciting opens, word spreads like wildfire. 

I have been hearing great things about Provenance Food Hall & Restaurant in Westhoughton since they opened in the summer of 2015.   
They are obviously doing something right because they have been featured in the 2017 Good Food Guide, putting Westhoughton firmly on the foodie map.

On the ground floor is the food hall - a veritable smorgasbord of high quality produce that is heaven for any food lover.  

Cheeses, pastries, steaks... how have I not been here before!  This is what Bolton has been crying out for - what I wouldn't give to have this range of locally sourced delicacies near home.

You have to pass through the food hall to reach the restaurant upstairs so you arrive drooling, ready for something special.

We arrived early for lunch but this proved no trouble for the helpful team at Provenance who seated us in our own corner of the bright and modern eatery, overlooking the busy Market Street.

Now that we are parents, the facilities in a restaurant are even more important than before - we were given a very good high chair for our daughter and there is a communal area outside the toilets with baby changing.  This is such a fantastic idea that I wish more places offered rather than making parents change their children in the disabled toilet.

Homemade Chilli Hummus with bread
Rustic and chunky with a kick, our shared starter got us off on the right foot.  Like a spicy guacamole, it perfectly fulfilled my current obsession for avocado based dishes.

Beazley Sausage & Mash with Crushed Peas
What a revelation.  Somewhere that offers an exciting and diverse children's menu!

My daughter polished this dish off in record time. Easily the best restaurant meal she has ever had - I could not be more impressed with the quality of the ingredients, especially the sausages.  We switched out the green beans for peas which proved no fuss at all for the very accommodating Provenance team.

The sausage was so good that we bought some from the Food Hall to take home.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Burger, Homemade Beans, Fries
Hannah ordered the chicken burger which was to die for.  Sweet and succulent on a brioche bun.

The surprise star of the dish are the 'tomatoey' beans.  Superb.

Beef Burger, Gem Lettuce, Beef Tomato, Gherkins, Tomato Relish, Treacle Cured Bacon, Lancashire Cheese with fries
Just what a burger lover wants.  The best produce used to create a classic taste.  You can really taste the difference with such good ingredients.

This is exactly the kind of place I love - somewhere that values high quality local produce, a family friendly environment and excellent customer service.  

It was so good that we took home 3 vanilla slices, a chocolate brownie, some sausages and a couple of steaks!

If you are taking the family out for a bite to eat, go here, you won't regret the trip to Westhoughton.  We are already planning our return to try the Chateaubriand and enjoy one of their live piano evenings. 

Provenance Food Hall & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday 12 March 2017

The White Swan, Fence by Hannah

This weekend we went out for a drive to try somewhere new. I always say if in doubt, drive north... that's where the best hidden gems are at!

There are some amazing places to eat in Fence. We've had some brilliant meals in the past around these parts, but in dire need of a pit stop to feed my baby's hungry tum we stumbled across The White Swan which from the outside looked very unassuming... However, the food was out of this world.

Here is the run down...

Fresh bread and homemade butter

Warm and yummy. The butter was light and mousse like.

Organic glazehill lamb shepherd's pie, glazed shallots

Rich and heart warming, under the mash lay some gorgeously slow cooked lamb in a rich gravy.

Sticky ox-tongue, marrowbone, roots and pickles

Gorgeous meat which contrasted well with the sharp flavours of the roots and pickles.

Dexter beef fillet, red wine sauce, triple cooked chips and Bearnaise sauce

Glazehill organic lamb, roscoff onions, onion and lemon marmalade, wild garlic

Both pieces of meat were to die for, perfectly pink and melt in the mouth. The lamb came with mash and the beef with chips, both with a deep silky gravy.

Yorkshire rhubarb, panacotta, blood orange and sasparilla

A pretty, light and cleansing end to the meal. 

The only minor criticism I had was that the mains didn't come with any greens. However, the meal came with lots of extra bonuses like the bread and homemade butter and some gorgeous homemade truffles at the end so all is forgiven.

We chatted to the people sat next to us who drive an hour from Southport regularly just to eat here. Says it all, it's definitely an eatery worth a long drive.

Quick run down of the facilities. The White Swan were very accommodating seeing as we rolled up unannounced on a Saturday lunchtime with a baby in tow. They have a variety highchairs, the wooden ones and those you strap to a chair with a tray. I didn't spot a kiddies menu but I'd brought my daughter's food with us and in a rush to get her fed I didn't think to ask. There was space for changing in the ladies and we had a little boogie to the music playing in the loos.

Overall we had an unexpected and fabulous lunch out, a really chilled experience and the attention to detail was second to none. The service was excellent, the staff are absolutely lovely.

I'd love to come back to try the tasting menu and the homemade spirits. 

Its no wonder they've won a Michelin Bib Gourmand, Two Rosettes, a place in the Good Food Guide and Lancashire Life Dining Pub of the Year 2016. 

They are having a Lancashire tapas night this month... I hope we can go... sounds like a match made in heaven!

Thursday 3 November 2016

Dearden Tea Rooms, Haslingden by Hannah

We went back in time this afternoon, back to 1940s nostalgia. The gentle chinks of cutlery  and crockery accompanied by the heart warming sound of war time tunes like Glenn Miller and the Andrews Sisters. Even the crochet table cloths added to the character.

It was my Mum's birthday so we decided to treat her to a good afternoon tea at the Dearden Tea Rooms. I'd heard of the Tea Rooms from a very good friend, never would I expect to find such a lovely place in hidden away in Haslingden. 

Us ladies went for a traditional Afternoon Tea. Freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam, a selection of finger sandwiches (ham, beef, cheese and egg with corresponding sauces and a scattering of watercress on the top), a selection of treats with a pot of tea. Our treats included raspberry cakes, golden syrup cakes, chocolate mousses, pink macaroons, strawberries, and a mini shortbread biscuit. I couldn't pick out a favourite element... but the warm scones may have swung it!

Elliott decided that he wanted something a bit more substantial so he chose the Dearden Beef Burger. 6oz beef burger topped with bacon, fried onions and black sticks blue cheese on a toasted muffin, served with salad garnish, chips and coleslaw.

The cakes in the glass case looked out of this world! I was tempted to take a slice of the Chocolate Orange Popping Candy Cake home but resisted for the sake of my waist line... and instantly regretted it when I got home.

My Nanna was in her element, high praise indeed!

The service was impeccable, we are not used to being referred to as sir or madam... Nice touch!

All you parents will be pleased to hear the Dearden is child friendly for all ages. There were teenagers, children and our babba all dining there. Baby changing was a lovely and clean.

Thursday 27 October 2016

The Reading Room at the Barlow, Edgworth by Hannah

Becoming a new mum is the most amazing thing in the world. The best adventure ever. We had little Eva Rose in April and she is 6 months old already. I have no idea where the time has gone. However, being a mum is not without its challenges. Completing once simple tasks have suddenly become very large victories...

One of these daily challenges is managing to drink a hot beverage. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, duty calls and your brew is left to ice over. When you're so sleep deprived and in desperate need of caffeine, you take a deep breath, brace yourself and get it drunk.

One of life's little pleasures as a mum is to break out of the house, find a cosy place to meet with friends and have a chat over a brew. Magical places where you can get away from the incessant "eh-ohs" of the Teletubbies for an hour and cross reference topics like nappy contents and weaning recipes without judgement, where no one bats an eyelid if your baby decides to kick off. It also makes a nice change to have someone make a drink for you during the day. You may even get to eat! These safe havens are a special and much needed retreat for mums.

One such place is the new Reading Room coffee bar at the Barlow Institute.

Set in Edgworth, the Barlow Institute dates back to 1909 and is the hub of the little village. Complete with a village hall, library, cafe, children's park and play area, cricket club and bowling green... there is always something going on up there whether it be a craft fair or beer festival. 

The Reading Room Cafe inside the Institute itself is lovely and quaint. There are old, Victorian pictures on the wall and it looks no different, aside from the little pops of colour from the furniture and squidgy sofas.

I decided on a latte... I had 3 loads of washing waiting for me at home, make it a strong one. It was amazing to drink something hot and yummy, what a treat! Ten minutes of bliss. They also offer a selection of Suki teas and hot chocolate. Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified.

The cakes on sale, handmade by Bekah's Little Cakery, are amazing. Aussie Crunch is my absolute favourite. I went straight up to the Barlow when my dear friend, Bekah, told me she was selling her cakes at the Reading Room. She's been making Aussie Crunch (and cakes in general) since our school days so I can vouch they have been crafted to perfection and made with love. Elliott had a slice of Carrot Cake which lasted about 2 seconds. Says it all!

The facilities are great at the Barlow.  You can comfortably fit a pram in the cafe and the bathrooms are spotlessly clean with baby changing. An important selling point for a new mum; you don't want to spend 2 hours getting out the house just to come home again if the inevitable happens!

There is plenty going on to entertain the little ones. There is a quite a large play area and woodland for the older kids towards the back of the building next to the cricket ground. There are also baby classes, a playgroup and crafts during the week if you get stir crazy like me. The cafe is handy because you can grab a brew whilst you're there. 

The Barlow also serves as a quiet place for meetings. There's free wifi in the cafe so you can get some work done in a comfortable setting. Or if the baby is asleep, have a 30 minute browse on Facebook! It's also a great place if you're holding a function or party as they offer room hire in the hall.

Mums (and dads!) if you are in need of sanctuary, this is the place. Great prices, comfortable, baby and business friendly, hot drinks and cake. It's a resounding thumbs up from me!