The contrast with the cold, windy, rainy and generally ‘I can do without winters altogether’ exterior and The Bay Horse interior could hardly be greater.
The murky darkness is banished, and replaced with a brightly decorated, warmly lit cosiness.
The bar faces you immediately on entry, always a welcoming sight, and to the right opens out a vision of whiteness… walls set off with toned grey panelling and tables with white tablecloths and on which are splashes of colour in the form of red napkins, Christmas crackers and flowers, real, in various colours.
We sink into bucket seats at a table by the bar and over pints of Theakstons Black Bull bitter chat through events of the day.
On scanning the menu, everything looks enticing, and with prices so diner-friendly there’s even a slight sense of discovering that which your reviewer’s second-in-command is in constant search of a bargain.
In the course of time, my whitebait arrives. Each little fish is as moist and as fresh as each could be in their slightly crunchy breadcrumbs, and are dipped into light mayo.
Second-in-command’s hot snooty smokey is a charming chowder, which takes the prize for the most alliterative starter of the year.
It’s smoked haddock in a white sauce topped with cheese and served in a large ramekin. It has a strong taste, the cheese is not overpowered by the haddock, and it’s rich but not too rich.
Each starter comes with an undressed and very fresh salad, and, oddly, four already buttered diagonal halves of sliced brown bread.
My ham hock and the full turkey roast dinner both look mouth-watering as they are delivered. Service throughout is excellent – friendly, non-fuss, chatty, efficient.
A generous amount of ham, in an onion sauce and resting on top of mash, is moist and succulent.
The thick slices of turkey breast are also moist and succulent and rest on a deep mound of stuffing, and with them are mini pigs in blankets and roast potatoes.
There is a “wholesome” gravy, the second lieutenant’s word, and a ramekin of cranberry sauce. ‘Full’ was no exaggeration.
Both come with a colourful display of fresh al dente vegetables… cubes of carrot, swede, broccoli and sprouts.
Despite mounting fears that a dessert is going to be a course too far, I rise to the occasion with the salted chocolate and caramel tart.
The assistant is in top form and a Bailey’s cheesecake duly arrives.
Both are deliciously presented, with splashes of colour across white plates from drizzled chocolate sauce and scoops of vanilla ice cream and peaks of aerosol cream with strawberries and raspberries partially sunk in.
The tart has a dense and rich chocolate filling, and the cheesecake is of that deep and circular type which tends to have more moisture, which this has.
Restaurant quality food has been served up.
That needs defining… food from a good restaurant.
The only point I would make is that apart from the desserts the presentation could look a little more professional.
Buttered sliced bread looks unstylish on the same plate as the starter.
Better bread could be on a side plate with the butter to be applied by the diner… and likewise with the vegetables as well.
The assistant was happy to go all inclusive.
At £37.80 we depart happy with our bargain.
Name: The Bay Horse
Address: 200 Preston Road, Whittle-le-Woods, Chorley
Contact: 01257 277590
Serving hours: Tuesday to Saturday, noon-3pm, 5pm-9pm, Sunday, noon-8pm
Access for disabled diners: Good