Food review - Coach and Horses, Bolton by Bowland, nr Clitheroe

Loin and shoulder of cull yow, with peas, mushroom and roscoff onion

Loin and shoulder of cull yow, with peas, mushroom and roscoff onion - Credit: Emma Mayoh

When it comes to great rural dining destinations, Lancashire and the Lakes has an embarrassment of riches. From innovative inns bringing national plaudits to the county to traditional country pubs beloved by all who venture through their doors. In the Ribble Valley, there is a huge number of great places to eat. For a place to thrive, it has to be good. And that’s rather under-egging the pudding, so to speak. 

Step in Ian Moss. The former Northcote, Ledbury and Harwood Arms chef, is now happily ensconced running the kitchens at Bolton by Bowland’s Coach and Horses and has put this fabulous inn – a recipient of two AA rosettes – on Lancashire’s tasty food map. 

There is good reason, with casual dining menus, a Sunday lunch you’d tell your whole family about, the chance to taste beers brewed in their on-site microbrewery and rooms so gorgeous that they attracted the attention of the judges at the latest Lancashire Tourism Awards – Coach and Horses were awarded the Perfect Stay accolade – you have all the ingredients for the perfect place to eat and spend time.

The Coach & Horses the only pub in the North West to make it through to the final round in the Best Pub for Food category in the 2022 Great British Pub Awards, the winners of which will be announced on on October 4th of this year.

Snacks to start Cheese and onion pie, smoked salmon cornets and chicken liver parfait with rice cracker

Snacks to start Cheese and onion pie, smoked salmon cornets and chicken liver parfait with rice cracker - Credit: Emma Mayoh

Like so many during lockdown, Ian was forced to stop doing what he loves most but used the time to think of new ideas. With his team they cooked up a new tasting menu – a new thing for the rural inn. ‘We have a lot of ambitions and with Lancashire establishing itself as a real foodie hotspot,’ says Ian. We felt a tasting menu would be well received both locally and beyond. It’s already been incredibly popular, and really takes our offering to the next level.’ 

Like all of the food prepared by Ian and his team, the menus focus on the best local and seasonal ingredients, used perfectly to create dishes like crab, watermelon, pea puree, wasabi mayonnaise, brown crab cigar and suckling pig. And this has, of course, become an ethos extended to the new tasting menus.

Asparagus, packed egg and hollandaise

Asparagus, packed egg and hollandaise - Credit: Emma Mayoh

And what an achievement. This was six courses of heaven. We started with snacks of cheese and onion pie (which didn’t look a bit like cheese and onion pie), cornets filled with a smoked salmon mousse and a chicken liver parfait with rice cracker and Brazil nuts. Then plates of delicately cooked asparagus with just-the-right-yolk poached egg and creamy hollandaise, followed by my favourite, scorched mackerel with tartar and avocado; it’s a dish I would happily eat for every meal from now until the day I leave this earth. Add to that list, the loin and shoulder of cull yow, with peas, mushroom and roscoff onion and you start to get the idea of just how good this meal was. Then onto the sweet stuff: two decadent courses of yogurt panna cotta with an oat crumb and a Coach and Horses banoffee pie with vanilla ice cream.

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Each course was executed with flair and attention to details – what a triumph. There is an option for a cheese course, for an extra cost, but we opted to come back another day for those treats.  

Country inns aren’t the usual playground for tasting menus – that's usually something reserved for Michelin starred venues or hotel restaurants at the top of their game. But the Coach and Horses have changed that. Bravo.

Banoffee pie

Banoffee pie - Credit: Emma Mayoh

Owned by husband-and-wife team Ko Labeij and Susan Lord, the Grade II listed pub had been closed for three years when they bought it. They spent nine months renovating it, creating seven beautiful rooms, a new kitchen, restaurant, bar and beer garden, which opened in 2017. A six-course tasting menu is now available at the pub, for £55 per head, with an optional cheese course (£9.50) and a wine flight for £30 per head. 

The Coach and Horses

The Coach and Horses - Credit: Carl Sukonik

Main St, Bolton by Bowland, Clitheroe BB7 4NW

https://coachandhorsesribblevalley.co.uk/