Ribby Hall Holiday Village - Restaurant review

It's in a holiday village but don't let that put you off. Ribby Hall has a new chef and he means business, as Lea Harris reports

It’s in a holiday village but don’t let that put you off. Ribby Hall has a new chef and he means business, as Lea Harris reports

Ribby Hall Holiday Village, between Preston and Blackpool, may not be on the Ribble Valley foodie trail, but it will surely gain recognition for The Restaurant.

With a new chef, the food here is innovative, locally sourced and accomplished. The portion sizes are ample, the staff friendly, attentiveand, above all, knowledgeable and professional.

We sit at high tables in the bar and peruse a menu divided into a la carte, tasting and table d’h�te (three courses �20). It includes ballotine of foie gras, one of my favourite foods of all time (I know there are issues, but I can’t help myself), while the other half has the scallop and chicken.

There’s more lip biting as we mull over the mains. I decide on the Goosnagh chicken and he swithers between lamb or the beef Rossini. The latter wins. Both our choices have an agenda - so often kitchens send out dry chicken while steaks can be a bit hit and miss, so this is our test for them.

With 19 wines by the glass we can mix and match. I want Sauternes with my starter, but it’s not on the list. I ask if there is any chance of a glass to go with my foie gras and I’m in luck.

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Our unfinished drinks are gathered up and we follow them to our table where we are offered breads made in the kitchen plus Lancashire butter, as yellow as a field of sunflowers. I’m not envious of his first course but I do sneak a taster from his plate. The chicken wing is so soft and voluptuous it could be used as a pillow, the scallop is beautiful in its opalescence. The caramelised cauliflower puree is deeply savoury and the thin sheaths of the vegetable are like giant snowflakes. It’s not a particularly balanced dish but the execution of the ingredients is superb that this incongruity can be forgiven.

Now for mine - perky acidity from the lemon oil balances the richness of the foie gras and the Muscat jelly is almost superfluous. The pickled pear dusted with pistachio is visually appealing, but the subtlety of the nut just can’t compete. Having said that, the ballotine is soft as peach down, combined with concentrated ambrosia of the Sauternes makes for a truly sublime union.

We eagerly await the arrival of the next course. Warm plates are placed in front of us and I’m coveting his before the fork reaches his mouth. A fleshy cushion of foie gras seductively poised one the local beef fillet is almost Reubenesque. The apricot flashes of chanterelle and dark, musky slivers of truffle are contrasting colours against the rich ruby port jus. The steak can only be described as perfect.

My Goosnargh chicken is sliced and splayed, sumptuous and opulent as Botticelli’s Venus surrounded by a verdant green sea of fresh peas, baby broad beans and tiny leeks. The dark meat, seasoned with tarragon, corseted in air-dried ham, has been fashioned into a cigarillo. Flavours are intense for both dishes, well balanced and worthy of praise. Chef Andrew Birch is an understanding chef who treats all his ingredients with equal respect, something that is seriously lacking in many a restaurant.

The other half passed on the pudding, but I can confirm that on a previous visit, the blueberry meringue tart with lemon puree and thyme is blinding. Short buttery pastry, fruity blueberries and crisp yet soft meringue is followed through with a lip-puckering, tastebud juggling lemoniness. The peanut butter ice cream, caramelised peanuts served alongside a banana bavarois had me bouncing in my seat. The textures and flavours are cosy bed fellows and what might seem like an intrusion, the fresh coriander gives this pud an element of surprise.

The Restaurant is in what is essentially a holiday complex, but don’t dismiss it. The team are striving towards providing good quality, locally produced ingredients and food that is value for money. It deserves the patronage of the local community.

The Restaurant, Ribby Hall Village, Ribby Road, Wrea Green. PR4 2PR01772 671 155

Twitter: @ribbyhall

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