I watched the crime thriller Reacher on Amazon Prime.
For those unfamiliar, he’s a veteran military police officer who is built like a warrior and has become a bit of a nomad since entering civilian life and is emotionally closed off. He is falsely accused of murder and quickly gets to work to solve the case. He also eats ALL THE TIME.
You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this at the start of a food review. Well, Reacher tries several times but keeps getting interrupted, only to eat a slice of peach pie which he is repeatedly told is “the best in the state”. [Georgia]”.
READ MORE: Ribble Valley’s Parkers Arms and what chef Stosie Madi says makes his pub the best in the north
Spoiler: In one of the last scenes of the series, he finally manages to eat the pie and says “he did better”.
Skip to my dessert at the Higher Buck Gastro Pub in Waddington. a short drive from its larger gastronomic neighbor Clitheroe. My eyes were drawn to him at the bottom of the specialty board – the hazelnut and raspberry meringue, to me, is a trio of dreamy flavored desserts.
I was thrilled because I can’t remember ever seeing that combination of ingredients on a menu, so I really built anticipation, but then I remembered Reacher’s reaction to his pie, so I was aware that this could be a huge disappointment.
It was not. I spent the two minutes it took to tear it down, eyes gleaming and mumbling “oh my god” to the tart pop of fresh raspberries, blood red sauce and hazelnut crisp, sitting on top of a perfectly formed meringue and textured.
So we don’t have states here but we do have counties but this meringue was easily “the best I’ve had in Lancashire” [or anywhere, to be honest] but it also allowed me to end what had been an all-around excellent meal on a meringue wedge.
The Higher Buck was recently named one of the top 50 gastropubs in the country, and we didn’t have to look past the substantial specialty menu and warm, genuine welcome to see why.
The quintessentially English pub with rooms sits just on the main road through the pretty village of Ribble Valley, beside a stream that runs past the outdoor beer garden picnic tables and is at the comfortable among terraced stone cottages, blooming flowerbeds and a parochial green. .
The interior is classic, rustic, and very well finished, with pleasant greens, browns, and grays, individually embroidered chairs with patterned fabrics, and the smell of log fires wafting through the parking lot.
I was particularly taken with the subtle nod to the name of the pub and to Ribble Valley and the landscape and heritage of nearby Bowland Forest, with references to deer and also wildlife such as pheasants and grouse , with colorful artwork using shotgun bullets adorning the walls.
The place also sells homemade flavored gin and there are lots of other little quirks that set it apart from the rest and the only thing it lacked was ambiance [the music was also tinny]but maybe that’s because we had dinner on a Tuesday night.
Also our final bill was £100 for two (not including two glasses of wine and tip) which is closer to the rather steep end of pub restaurant prices.
We focused heavily on the specialty menu, which changes regularly, ordering the Queenie scallop starter (£10), the Beef Wellington (£24 the Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Tart (£17) for the main courses and the dreamy dessert I mentioned earlier (£7).
Scotch egg with black pudding (£8) and vanilla yoghurt panacotta (£7) were on the main menu.
The three scallops were served adorably on individual shells, the garlic and black pudding breadcrumbs counteracted the fishy and marshmallow texture of the scallops and I could have eaten three times the portion as they just kept getting stale. ‘to improve.
The Scotch egg was substantial and hearty, the yolk bright and bold, and the treasure at the heart of the outer layers crispy and flavorful. The mustard mayonnaise gave the less prominent salty flavors a welcome zip while the bacon on top was salty and crispy.
I had some disastrous pub pies in my day, and that put me off ordering them, but I had a really good feeling about this one – and my instincts didn’t let me down.
Served in a pretty pie pan [main picture], the filling was creamy and soft, the chicken tender and it was stuffed to the brim, nestled in the best flaky pie crust I’ve had in some time. I liked how the pastry flakes fell into the filling, giving each fork a variety of textures. The greens that came with it were well seasoned and hadn’t had the cooked nutrients and the cooking was good enough to swap the fries for mashed potatoes [pie and mash is always the way]which was chewy, with a hint of cheese and pepper.
The beef wellington may also be a risk, but the meat was perfectly pink and succulent, the batter delicate and crispy and had a wonderful shine, and the gravy-like sauce was rich.
It was served with a healthy helping of beautifully buttered dauphinoise potatoes, which had nailed that delicate balance between soft and hard, with a golden crunchy top layer.
Finally, the panacotta was beautifully prepared with a characteristic sway, again showcasing the chef’s clear and technically savvy cooking skills. It’s sweet with the fig compote and homemade shortbread which worked very well
And while there was no plastic carton in sight, the yoghurt’s unusual and distinctive vibe made it one of the best desserts ever to sit alongside a ham and cheese sarnie in a box. lunch.
Food was a recurring theme throughout Reacher. Although he was constantly on the move, he always found time to eat, snack or shovel a meal into his mouth – it was certainly necessary to maintain his Herculean frame.
But I’m quite sure even he would have stopped in his brutal crime-solving ways to enjoy a meal at the Higher Buck and come away with a full stomach. I’d bet he’d have an extra helping or two of that meringue, too. It couldn’t have been better.
Note: I would score the Higher Buck 4.5, if I could.
re foodviews of Denise Evans are published every Sunday morning. The restaurant didn’t know we were coming and our review is anonymous.
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