The Fenwick Arms, Lancaster Road, Claughton, Lancashire LA2 9LA.
Whit Weekend - 2007. See also: November 2009 - Fenwick Arms review...

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

There is a sign above the door of the Fenwick Arms, Lancaster Road, Claughton, Lancashire LA2 9LA proclaiming the 'Campaign for Real Gravy'.

Presumably this is a call to action, a campaign which could be commenced right here on the premises judging by the mix of cornflour, salt and flavour enhancers, which accompanied the Bowland steak, kidney and mushroom pie on bubble and squeak [£9.25].

The Fenwick rose to national fame when it was one of the establishments to feature in the television series 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' in which top chef and foul mouthed presenter Gordon Ramsey attempts to revive ailing businesses in the catering trade.

Our visit at Whitsun weekend 2007 was sometime after said televisual broadcast, this was no accident on our part as we wished to see how things had 'panned out' at the Fenwick once the dust had settled.

We arrived at 7.30pm as booked, and were shown immediately to a table (all but two in the restaurant being empty).


We were left, drinkless for half an hour, to make our choices from a selection of main courses which included Pan fried fillet of salmon with buttered Samphire (regrettably neither of us could immediately call to mind exactly WHAT Samphire might be), the word may be more familiar to Crossword buffs, students of Shakespeares 'King Lear', or even the short stories of Patrick O'Brian. Suffice to say Samphire is a wild plant similar to Asparagus. Apparently.

Starters include Bubble and Squeak (more of this later) served with a poached egg and HP sauce, toasted crumpet with onion marmalade, and of course prawn cocktail - here served 'Gordon Ramsey Style' in a glass.

After a good 30 (dry) minutes we asked if they had, perhaps, a Wine List?
"Yes!" said the young lady serving us, then seemed to await further instruction.
"Could we see it?" we asked.

A wine list duly arrived.
"Did you want this?" asked the waitress....
Not an auspicious start. We made our choice of wine (number 64 A Rhone Lirac "Les Queyrades"), which was dumped, open on our table by a passing waitress. It was passable, once we had poured our own glasses and fished all the bits of cork out.

So, great, about 40 minutes into the evening and we got to drink something.

The staff were hardly rushed off their feet, only 2 other tables had diners. The bar was deserted.

A tumbleweed rolled past one of the windows, paused, as if looking though the doorway, rocked from side to side, shuddered, then continued on its way towards Lancaster......

We chose the Salmon and haddock fishcake, potato salad and a caper dressing [£4.75] and *Goosnargh chicken, chorizo and parmesan salad [£4.95]

Notwithstanding the descriptions on the Menu, the starters could be summed up as follows:

Potato cake coated in breadcrumbs with a faint taste of fish, deep fried in oil, served on a bed of cold potato salad in oil garnished with a drizzle of oil.

Chicken pieces from Preston served in oil accompanied by small cubes of charcoal black burnt Spanish sausage served in a dish of oil.


No enquiry had been made 'everything all right with the meal?' at any stage to this point, and shortly our main courses arrived.

The Bowland Steak, kidney and mushroom pie on bubble and squeak arrived served in a bowl as an island surrounded by a strange coloured greyish/brown muddy liquid. It is only now on reflection that I see that this dish is one of those on the menu NOT featured as being served with 'Real Gravy', so perhaps this suspension of cornflour granules is offered as a contrast! The dish was at best average, and we both sampled the 'gravy' in an attempt to pin down its origins, and perhaps a recipe. Suffice to say that a stock cube, plenty of salt and cornflour should produce similar results.

The Beef Pistou was a tasty, rich Beef Bourguignonne, with added black olives, onto which had been slopped (school dinner stylee) the most overcooked pasta you can imagine. It's overriding flavour was of water and it formed a wet, stodgy goo over the stew.

Relieved that the meal was almost over we stood up to make our way with our remaining wine from the now deserted dining room to the equally empty bar.

This being May 2007 the opportunity of an after meal smoke could still be found here, in pre 'smoke-free England'.
Unfortunately one of us was blocking the path of a waitress carrying used plates to the kitchen.

"I need to be there," asserted the charming young lady, motioning one of us out of her path, to then barge kitchenwards, with her plates!

We asked to pay (around £46 for the meal for two including wine). Again no question enquiring as to how we may have enjoyed our dinner, the wine, etc.
In fact at no point during the evenings experience had any such question been made. Maybe they anticipated our answer...

Atmosphere: neg.
Food: desperate (vegetables OK though)
Service: abysmal
Value for Money: ho ho

In a word? I don't think either of us had one - although, if my memory serves me correctly, I think Gordon Ramsay does.....

At a point further along the Lancaster Road is a lay-by popular with motoryclists where you will find a catering trailer serving hot teas, coffees and regular hearty fare such as a good bacon or sausage sandwich. Do yourself a favour; pull off here, enjoy the food and drink and stroll along the parked ranks of the free motorbike show.

*Goosnargh - village near Preston, oft quoted as being the 'Dead-Centre'** of the British Isles.

**Dead-Centre'* - The Fenwick?

We returned to the Fenwick Arms late in 2009 - read on.....

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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.