I noticed a glowing article in the Live Ribble Valley magazine describing the Macdonald Tickled Trout Hotel as THE place to go for steaks. They seemed immensely proud of their Scottish Steak Club and the article provided mouth watering images from the restaurant.
The place offers aged, hung meat with guest steaks from the Argentine and the USA as well as the very best from Scotland (true to their Scottish heritage). I notice they say a minimum of 21 days hung while a few other local restaurants offer at least 35 days (such as the Eagle at Barrow). I was really looking forward to visiting and feeling very positive.
I was encouraged to book a table on the website. It gets busy they say. When we got there, just one other couple who were finishing up.
The atmosphere is old school ‘grill room’, dark brown with a hint of red and what we initially thought was leather black & white cow skin on one wall but turned out to be a marbled effect.
The dimly lit interior demands good eyesight to read the small printed menu. They helpfully had a little candle on the table which helped a bit. But really, it was 7.30 in June and broad daylight outside. The place is trying to create an atmosphere, but with the total lack of diners it was just flat. The piped ‘elevator’ musak didn’t really help.
Anyway, down to the food. Very interested in the pork cracking sticks as an appetiser . Looked great in the photo. Not ready the waiter said even though it was was 7.30pm. Was the chef waiting for a rush later on that evening? Disappointing didn’t get to try these. If an item takes time to make it should be indicated on the menu -.don’t order before 8pm or something.
So, we went for the bread and dips which turned out to be alright. Gone are the days the diner was offered free bread at the start of a meal. Not even bread sticks anymore. The fresh tomato dip that came with the selection was very tasty. The roasted garlic could have done with another 10 minutes in the oven.
Down to the serious business of the steaks. That’s why we are here. The menu explained the various ways a steak can be cooked. To be frank, if you are a serious steak eater this can be patronising. I know they are trying to be helpful but no quality steak should ever be well done. Speak to a chef, a meat buyer, or a master butcher. It’s sacrilege. Anyway, they offer a range of cuts costing from £21.50 to an eye-watering £28 for the Fillet and T-Bone. Aside from the main menu they have the USA and Argentinian dry aged steaks.
We prefer Rib eye and went for a Scottish and a bife de ancho (Argentine rib eye). I ordered rare and it came rare. The other ordered medium and it came medium. Reassuringly the steaks come with a little ‘lolly’ stick telling you how it’s been cooked just in case you can’t remember what you ordered. The menu also says you can order ‘blue’. I thought the nanny state had cracked down on under cooked meat so that’s good.
Both steaks were expertly cooked with a tasty char grilled exterior. The classic cuts moist, textured and delicious. Although billed as 8oz mine was noticeably smaller for some reason. The Argentine had the edge, and should considering it was more expensive that the Scottish.
The meat came with the traditional garnish. Thick, chunky hand cut chips in the now trendy silver bucket, (one) flat mushroom, watercress and tomato (hardly grilled at all). Had to order onion rings separately. Most steak houses include these as standard. The quality of the food did stand up to scrutiny though. Ordered a side of classic Creamed Cabbage and Bacon which was excellent.
Dessert was a selection of sweet ‘shots’ in a row, on a little wooden board. You can choose three, six or ten from the menu selection. A great idea and becoming more trendy in other restaurants.
We went for Knickerbocker glory, Lemon Cheesecake, Peanut & Salt Caramel Parfait. Sweet on top of sweet, but I liked them. A great way to sample the various puds and delicious little treats.
Minus points. The big white plates for the mains were, well, too big. The sparseness on the plate revealed too much white and they were just not hot enough. While the steak was fine the accompaniments were going cold and shouldn’t have made it past the pass. Even less excuse as we were practicality the only diners. It’s a small thing but detracts from the enjoyment of the meal. And for the money they could have been more generous.
It wasn’t just us. The only other table being served became very vocal about the coolness of their food (they also said the onion rings were greasy, but I disagree with that).
Plus points. Obviously the steaks but the stand out was the service. The waitress. Although slow to pick up we had arrived, was attentive and friendly and we liked the way she recommended her favourite table. She asked if we wanted water on the table which was helpful. The waiter, Luca, was outstanding. Very knowledgeable about the menu, explaining the various steaks and the method and means behind the interesting pudding ‘shots’. Also took time to talk about the various cuts on display in the cold cabinet at the entrance to the restaurant. Great positive manner and an asset to the Tickled Trout.
It’s funny how things come around. The steakhouse is trendy again but beware of anywhere that proclaims ‘The Best Steak in Town’ as it is setting itself up for a fall. So many places provide excellent steaks these days but when charging ‘London prices’ you really have to be on top of your game. While there is doubting the Scottish Steak Club steaks are mouth wateringly good, the rest of the meal experience, apart from the service, needs a bit more attention.
Macdonald Tickled Trout Hotel
Scottish Steak Club
Preston New Road,
Value for money 4/5
Have you tried the Scottish Steak Club? What did you think?