Top 10 reasons to visit:

1. fenwick arms claughton
2. fenwick arms gravy
3. fenwick arms hotel
4. fenwick arms lancashire
5. fenwick arms pub
6. fenwick arms ramsay
7. fenwick arms ramsey
8. fenwick inn
9. real gravy
10. fenwick arms closed

The Fenwick Arms, Lancaster Road, Claughton, Lancashire LA2 9LA - Revisited.

November 2009

Eat and Drink - an occasional review of local Pubs, Restaurants, Bars, and more.

"It will be a long crawl back to success for the new owners of the Fenwick".

The Fenwick Arms, ClaughtonBack in 2007 the Fenwick gained notoriety when Gordon Ramsay made this establishment the first 'Pub' to feature in his 'Kitchen Nightmares' TV series.

You may remember the then Landlord Brian Ray - 30 years in the business, a quadruple heart bypass, working 120 hours a week and a quarter of a million pounds in debt. Nice.

Brian also had possible the world's greatest collection of square dinner plates. Remember those? They were broken up in the car park and thrown in a skip. You may also remember Ramsay using Brian's lumpy gravy to fill holes in the pub car park.

'Brian Ray - the most eccentric fruitcake I've ever met' Said Ramsay.

Since 2007 things have changed at the Fenwick, sold off to new owners by Punch Taverns, the pub has been cleaned up, refurbished and now reopened.


The sign by the roadside stated 'Exclusive opening, all welcome' - so, in we went, on the evening of the 21st of November 2009. To be fair the place had been given a good work over, with new wooden flooring, freshly painted walls and expensive looking curtains.

We were greeted at the entrance by two waiting staff dispensing fizz in champagne flutes, although after a couple of mouthfuls I enquired of our party if anyone might guess what in fact it was that we were drinking? Best guess seemed to be 'Schloer'? Do they still make that stuff? Or had a cache of this non alcoholic sparkling fruity beverage of the 70's been discovered squirreled away by Brian years before in a bricked up back room?

Waitresses passed among us with trays - I tried a Goats cheese and red onion tit bit - about the size of a second class postage stamp, quartered.

Canapés at the Fenwick ArmsFor nibbles this was my lot, since thereafter only a series of dessert tasters were presented - small cubes of cold sticky toffee pudding, meringues, tarts etc. none of these seem to me to complement a pint of San Miguel (by this time I had parked the Schloer).

"Another Goats cheese nibble sir?" "No, I couldn't possibly - I'm full…"

The photographer from Lancashire Life took a few snaps, the pianist keyed out a medley of tunes on an electric keyboard and a table magician set fire to his fingers at the next table.

Presumably the intention of this evening was to show the new look Fenwick, with its new look menu to the locals - we saw quite a few friends from the surrounding villages, each seemed to have similar memories to our own of the Fenwick. It seems we are not alone in honouring this establishments previous management with the prize of providing us with our worst ever meal, coupled with the most atrocious service.

Therein lies the problem for the Fenwick - how to climb back from such a lowly start? Even to give the new owners a chance and award 5 of 10 is not possible when they are in fact starting from a point below zero, this coupled with the fact that the Fenwick website (the domain name is in fact registered in the name of Brian Ray - Sole Trader and is renewed until August 2010) seems not to have been part of the Punch Tavern sale, and has travelled, along with Brian to the new home of 'Real Gravy' in Boroughbridge, which means that anyone looking online for information is greeted with an announcement on the homepage stating that the Fenwick is closed.

Couple this with the fact that C4 endlessly repeat episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, by transmission AND make past episodes available 24 hours a day 7 days a week online.

It seems that the Fenwick's new owners have a mammoth task ahead.

I think the new owners missed a trick at the 'Exclusive Opening' - we never actually discovered who the new owners were. No-one came to our table and introduced themselves, no-one enquired if we had any opinion, or if we might return and dine one evening?

'Hello my name is Anthony (or whatever), we have just taken over the Fenwick, I hope you like what we have done with the place - please come back one evening and try a meal, here's my card, bring it with you when you return, show it at the bar and there is a drink on the house waiting for you'. There - how long would that take? 1 minute per table?

Footnote - way back in a previous life I was trained in the art of sign design. My employer supplying many of the major breweries at the time. The Tetley 'Hunstman' and the Blue Star of Scottish and Newcastle were prime examples quoted by the old hands in the design studio when they let me in on the secret of a good pub sign "it has to be recognisable by a half cut geezer, on a dark night, stumbling through a slanting heavy rain".

True - try it, or just half close your eyes in the dark and look down your high street and see which signs you can recognise.

The Fenwick new signage?

Gold letters on a bronze background.

Enough said.

Views expressed by the reviewers may not be shared by the publishers.

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VRWRAY is published by Red Door VR Limited, PO BOX 101, Leeds LS8 9AX.

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Eat and Drink - an occasional review of local Pubs, Restaurants, Bars, and more.


The Fenwick Arms, Lancaster Road, Claughton, Lancashire LA2 9LA.