This year, Tim and I are planning to make the most of the amazing pubs we have practically on our doorstep in the Ribble Valley. Having a toddler means that evening visits to pubs are generally out, but we thought a regular Sunday lunch slot would be a fair measure of working out the best and the worst. It also means that we’ll get to know lots of the villages around us. We’ll be visiting lots of Ribble Valley pubs to sample their Sunday Lunch menus – sounds like a good plan to me.
Last Sunday, we visited The Calf’s Head at Worston. Worston is a pretty little village, tucked under the imposing Pendle Hill. The pub (Country Restaurant, Hotel and Watering Hole actually, according to its slogan) is the biggest building in the village, and certainly doesn’t want for car parking. We visited on a wintry, windy day in January, and the setting was a bit bleak.
At this time of the year, it sometimes feels as if it’ll never be summer. Looking out on Pendle Hill, winter was definitely in full force. So the roaring fire inside, with hot spiced apple for sale at the bar, were both very welcome.
Although we had booked, we were asked to buy a drink at the bar and wait until our table became available. In fact, before I had even ordered the drinks, Tim was being taken to our table and had ordered our meals.
The dining areas are, I presume, extensions of the pub, and there seemed to be three different areas in use. This meant that, although it was very busy, it didn’t feel crowded in any way. This is certainly a popular location for Sunday Lunch, particularly with multi-generational parties – I think we were the only table with only two generations, rather than three, at the table.
Although the pub is very traditional, the dining areas are a bit more modern, although the decor did seem quite dated. It is a hotel, and it felt like a hotel dining room rather than a pub, if you get my meaning. Rather than being cosy and traditional, the dining areas felt a bit cold and unloved. However, the facilities for children – highchairs and changing rooms – were excellent, and the toilets were good too.
Sunday is carvery day at The Calf’s Head, and, having a slightly fractious toddler on our hands, we opted out of having a starter (I had already seen the dessert table). We were given a slightly odd plate of crudites to nibble, which kept Ben happy while Tim got our meals.
The carvery offered quite a selection in terms of meat on offer: turkey, gammon, lamb and beef were on offer, and, as Tim got my meal, we both had all four. Tim, being a committed carnivore, thought this was excellent, and was particularly pleased with this. Ben devoured his Yorkshire pudding, and would have happily eaten ours too if we had let him. Personally, while the meat was fine and well-roasted, I would have liked a lot more vegetables. Mashed carrot and shredded cabbage just weren’t special enough for me, I’m afraid.
The dessert table was a bit special. I’m a real sucker for dessert, and this one is clearly a draw for the Calf’s Head. It’s on display opposite the carvery, so you can’t miss it.
There’s a fresh fruit salad right at the bottom end, so you do have a healthy option!
The choice of desserts fitted the traditional aspect of the pub: lemon meringue pie, black forest gateau, trifle, banoffee pie. We sampled both the lemon meringue and the banoffee, and both were fine, although I did wonder how much the menu varies from week to week.
As Ben had well and truly had enough by this time, we skipped coffee and headed home, our bill coming to just under £35. That wasn’t too bad, I thought, for a 2 course Sunday lunch for us, but I did think the whole experience was slightly like stepping back in time, in terms of the food and the decor. However, it is very popular, and we went based on a recommendation, so it definitely suits other people’s tastes.
I’d love to hear your Sunday lunch recommendations, so please comment below. Next week, we’re heading to the Aspinall Arms at Mitton.