Food review - The Clarence, Bury
- Credit: Copyright CHRIS PAYNE IMAGES 201
The Clarence in Bury has all of the right ingredients for the perfect dining pub. Emma Mayoh reports
It wasn’t the first time I’d stepped through the doors of The Clarence. The first, during a misspent youth, was solely prompted by beer priced to suit my university student pocket rather than a charming interior. The second visit was different. Gone was the stale, smoke-filled air, its tired look and a leaky roof. In its place, was a smart, stylish pub for Bury to be proud of.
It is owner Lee Hollinworth and his wife, Lottie, who have been responsible for its resurgence. They have taken this from a crumbling building with a hole in the roof and created a fabulous dining pub. The walls have been stripped to the red brick, original features have been restored and enhanced and it now looks like the sort of sophisticated ale house you might find in affluent Islington.
Certainly, if you were looking for a formula for the perfect pub, you would find it in The Clarence. And this has not gone unnoticed. In its first year it has been named Best Dining Pub at the Eat, sleep, Drink Awards and Best Food Pub in Manchester as part of the Manchester Food and Drink Festival.
It’s no surprise the food has been put in the spotlight. The menu – presented as a newspaper – is extensive. This is a shortcoming for some restaurants where quality is sacrificed for quantity. Not a bit of it here. Despite its large choice of dishes, head chef and former Gary Rhodes protégé Liam Rutherford and his team are turning out top quality food.
Not only is the food fantastic but the micro-brewery Silver Street Brewing Company, currently housed in the basement and lovingly tended by Craig Adams, is getting such a strong following that it’s expanding onto a new site. It will keep the bottom floor base going too.
You can dine in the pub or upstairs in The Kitchen restaurant. We chose upstairs.
And very fine it was too. Pub classics like The Clarence burger, pork and ale sausages and Bury black pudding and leek croquettes sit alongside other dishes that would look at home in a top class fine dining establishment. Think artichoke tortellini, glazed ox cheek, roast crown of poussin and other springtime delights.
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After ogling the menu for an unacceptable amount of time, I opted for steamed plaice fillets with roast scallops, celeriac puree, baby leeks, spinach and crisp Parma ham in a white wine sauce. The pretty dish, full of colour, was almost too good to disturb. The good quality plaice and mussels didn’t need any messing about with. The smidge of sauce was just the trick. My dining companion opted for salmon and mussels from the specials board. The silence that befell my usually chatty friend said all that was needed. An undoubted hit.
We’d saved ourselves for dessert, even though starters of roast quail, rabbit and pistachio terrine and maple cured salmon did their best to tempt us.
But what we’d missed for first course made up for it in the continental cheese board I chose. It was served with small jar of quince jam, a cube of bloody Mary jelly and crackers. You choose your own cheese from a small menu, a great idea.
But my fellow diner’s choice was wisest. The melting chocolate pudding with white chocolate ice cream would be able to swerve even the most dedicated of dieters.
The silence this time came from my side of the table while I quietly stewed with regret of not making the same choice. In fact, so good were the reports of this particular dish, I took a forkful to see for myself. Cue more stewing. I snapped myself out of it with a half of their Silver Street Session ale, a good choice.
The Clarence is everything you would want from a pub. On a dreary midweek evening it was doing a roaring trade.
Having a slick operation and good people certainly helps. It’s a place that has got people talking, as well as having them go back time and again. I know I’ll be visiting again soon – just so I can have the chocolate pud.
The Clarence, Silver Street, Bury, BL9 0EX, 0161 464 7404, www.theclarence.co.uk