Eating Out: A slice of Bread and Butter is the main course in the new Penwortham
There was a time, not so long ago, when Penwortham was just a starting point for a night out in Preston.
With one pub, a couple of restaurants and a handful of takeaways, the town centre, for most people, didn’t offer enough for an entire evening.
But how things have changed since talk of a bypass turned into hard ashpalt and now a plethora of bars and eating places have sprung up along Liverpool Road.
Penwortham has well and truly arrived on the map as a destination venue instead of a place just for passing through.
As boom towns go, things are really booming. And as word gets out, the chances are more will follow.
There are now five bars - soon to be six - to make up a decent pub crawl. But this column is about food and so, after being alerted by one bar customer to the splendid nosh available a couple of doors down, we decided to give the recently re-vamped Bread and Butter a try.
Now B&B has been a successful cafe business in the centre of the town for a while now. And, as this previously sleepy one-pub main street has been enjoying its renaissance of late, the owners have decided to take a step up and move to brand new premises just 30 yards from their previous home.
Those who are not familiar with Penwortham might be surprised to hear that in just one block of six units - five of those newly-converted from a supermarket and a bank - three are already in the catering business and a fourth is soon to join them.
Bread and Butter moved from one end of the block to the other for new and more spacious premises. Their old home now has planning permission to become a micropub.
Once that opens its doors as No 16 on the Hill, visitors will have one more reason to stay local and spurn the city’s brighter lights up Fishergate Hill.
B&B owners Fay and Ryan Johnson admit their business enjoys something of an identity crisis.
The pair, who both trained at Michelin-starred Northcote at Langho, have been asked: “What are you? Restaurant? Bistro? Or cafe? Their response just sums up the ethos of Bread and Butter. “We’re foodies!”
We managed to get a late table for the Sunday lunch service which was all-but full. The identity crisis might come from the fact that as a restaurant, it does not serve alcohol. No problem there, though, because for £5 corkage you can take your own.
From Wednesday to Saturday this impressive little eatery is really just an up-market cafe. They do a wonderful breakfast menu and their lunches and three-tier afternoon teas are stunning.
There are also special occasions, like Valentines Day next week, when it switches seamlessly to restaurant mode with a romantic three-course evening meal.
But the highlight has got to be the hearty Sunday lunch menu which knocks spots off more pretentious places in the area for both quality and value.
When Mrs E and I called in to sample the goodies there were eight main courses to choose from and four desserts - no messing about with starters here. On other weekends the chef has produced up to 11 and five. One course costs £13.50, two are £17.50.
And if the substantial main course isn’t substantial enough for you, there are a few sides to top you up between £3 and £3.75.
At this point regular readers will be surprised to hear that for once the boss decided against the roast beef which, over the years, has become a staple for her while on Eating Out duty on a Sunday.
Instead she went for the roast turkey, allowing me the rare privilege to test the red meat which, on this occasion, was a sizeable chunk of slow braised brisket of beef, with crisp roast potatoes, buttery mash, seasonal vegetables, a whopping Yorkshire pud and rich, delicious gravy.
Now I’m not a diner who enjoys fighting with a chunk of meat and leaving a restaurant with jaw ache. So the melt in the mouth brisket was an absolute dream for me. Mrs E’s longing glances across the lunch table were a picture, although she had to admit her own generous serving of turkey with all the trimmings was food heaven too.
We added a side of cauliflower and broccoli cheese (£3.75) and an absolute dishful of succulent pigs in blankets (£3.75).
For dessert we chose apple and cinnamon frangipane served warm with clotted cream and fresh berries, together with Eton Mess cheesecake with a mulled berry compot and meringue pieces. Both were spectacular.
Restaurant? Bistro? Cafe? Who cares? Whatever it is I would recommend a slice of Bread and Butter.