Located in the beautiful Lancashire countryside in the rural hamlet of Mitton, The Three Fishes is the flagship of Ribble Valley Inns with a solid reputation.
The brainchild of Michelin Star chef Nigel Howarth of Northcote Manor fame and wine expert Craig Bancroft, these pubs pride themselves on traditional food using locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients.
We had heard a lot about the Three Fishes, but had never actually been, so my husband and I were full of anticipation when invited to the re-launch night following a refurbishment.
We were impressed by the traditional yet modern interior with photographs of local food suppliers and producers adorning the walls.
With stone walls, a log burning fire and red and grey seating, the venue is spacious enough to prevent diners feeling hemmed in.
Foodwise, we were off to a delicious start with a selection of nibbles consisting of Nigel’s free-range pork chipolatas with mustard mayonnaise, Ashcroft’s cauliflower fritters with curry mayonnaise and bacon pastry swirls with a very moreish homemade brown sauce.
Eating off a special re-launch night menu, for starter, I chose the Twice Baked Butler’s melting Lancashire cheese souffle with a divine topping of beetroot relish which complemented the cheese beautifully. The only gripe was the absence of bread to mop up the cheesy sauce.
Keith had King Oyster Garlic mushrooms which came with a poached Pike Hill Farm free-range hen’s egg – and he did get some homemade bread!
Although the mushrooms were tasty enough, Keith would have preferred more actual mushrooms than stalks. He also found the egg swimming in garlic butter a peculiar addition.
For mains, we both chose Steak Diane, an Angus sirloin medallion in a mushroom sauce with shallots, French mustard, brandy and cream.
We were told the steak came medium. Slightly bemused at being told how to have it, we were happy enough to go with it.
The presentation was a bit sloppy, but the sauce had a deep, rich flavour. However, the meat was more rare than medium.
But the thing that let the main course down was the serving of thin cut chips akin to fast food fries instead of proper, fat home-made chips.
To add to the disappointment, there were no vegetables. Not a single pea or stray piece of carrot.
This really is one of my pet peeves. If you’re going to give a dish a £22.50 price tag, you should at least serve a full meal.
In this day and age of encouraging people to eat their five a day, to omit veg altogether is very remiss.
For dessert, I chose a peach melba while Keith had the summer fruit crumble.
I expected a peach melba with a special twist, but it was a bit lacking in flavour and presentation. The peach had a nice flavour but came with just a few raspberries and a blob of ice cream.
Keith enjoyed his crumble of apples, plums and strawberries served with clotted cream, although the crumble topping wasn’t the tastiest he’d experienced.
Service was good but with some inconsistencies such as our coffees arriving without mini home-made Eccles cakes which other tables received. However, after asking, we did get them. They were tasty, but a touch undercooked.
We left The Three Fishes feeling like we had had a pleasant enough meal, but somewhat underwhelmed – especially as the food bill should have been in the region of £70.
Maybe opening-night glitches, it just needs a few tweaks to maintain its reputation for great food.