Restaurant review: Top Lock, Heapey

Top Lock
Top Lock

We are sitting by the window chuckling as the Leeds and Liverpool wends its way downwards towards the coast.

There’s a fair easterly getting up, and as that’s about the extent of my nautical terminology, I won’t strain for any more.

We are chuckling over an old canal tale from yesteryear.

We have dined out on this one a few times, it must be said. It bears retelling, polished a little bit, and two pints of the local Timothy Taylor and Burglar from the Peterborough brewery Oakhams, beautifully kept both, are helping nicely in that respect.

The son of good friends of ours is a resourceful lad.

He used to help out at a canal boatyard which must remain nameless for reasons which will become clear.

General duties, after school, until one night the pilot, or captain or whatever the name is of the one who steers it, failed to turn up for a big party barge trip with 40 or so guests.

Young Jack (not his real name) rose to the occasion. They propped him up behind the wheel, on a box so he could see where he was going, put it into first gear, and peeping over the rim of the wheel, he steered the revellers home.

Anyway, we turn to our no nonsense pub food.

The wind and rain are lashing up a squall on Johnsons Hillock locks outside so something warm and honest is required – liver and onions in my case, and cheese and onion pie for the first mate.

There’s a rich gravy into which I add dollops of brown sauce to make the dipping of the big and chunky chips all the more rewarding.

The liver is as liver is, and a melange, to describe it incongruously, of softened broccoli, cabbage, carrot, swede and one unidentifiable ingredient adds an odd accompaniment.

The cheese and onion pie is being raved about. It has several plusses: thin short crust pastry, a generous cheese and onion filling and mushy peas which are moist and mushy but which yet remain slightly al dente and retain the shape of the individual peas.

We speculate for a moment how this seeming impossibility has been achieved.

Plus the hand cut chips previously mentioned… crisp on the outside with a fluffy interior. She’s also taken extra gravy.

Equally good pastry, plus sugar this time, tops my warm cinnamon spiced apple pie which comes with loads of vanilla ice cream.

The first mate’s vaguely expressed desire to cut down on dessert rapidly translates into two scoops of ice cream, one marshmallow and the other banoffee, with chocolate sauce drizzled, pouring cream and a chocolate flake in each scoop.

We debate whether or not to splice the mainbrace again. I checked that out too … it means have a tot of rum, but as it’s only two bells we decide against.

The bill: £28.40.

Factfile

Address: Copthurst Lane, Heapey, Chorley

Opening times: 11am-11pm Mon-Sat; 11am-10.30pm Sun

Meal times: Noon-9pm

Other details: Good access for disabled diners. Real ales, ciders on gravity. Curry night Tuesday, fish and chips Wednesday, quiz night Monday, live music most Thursdays.