The Derby Arms at Treales, a tiny rural village near Kirkham, is an old destination for me. I used to live just down the road and for a short while it was my regular. It’s only a few short miles outside Preston and I recently made a return visit after a 7 year absence. I’m happy to report that this place should be on the map for any serious Prestonian foodie.
Run by Bowland Village Inns, who have a collection of country pubs (they also own the excellent award winning Punchbowl in Churchtown, the Plough in Galgate and the New Holly at Forton amongst others) brought in Executive Head Chef Michael Weston-Cole to reinvigorate the menu based on the best of locally-sourced food.
Michael is renowned as one of the most talented chefs in the North West and a member of the Masterchefs of Great Britain. He began his catering career at Burlington’s Restaurant in Broughton, Preston and Prestonian’s of a certain age may have already sampled his cooking. He is also known for strong links with local producers and as a loyal supporter of locally-grown produce I was looking forward to see how he had updated the menu at the Treales gastropub.
Perfectly set in the Lancashire countryside the inn has a relaxing atmosphere and true country pub feel. I found the interior comfy, lots of little alcoves filled with rustic dark stripped solid wood tables and chairs. Making the visit instantly enjoyable was the welcome on arrival from manager Andy. Greeted warmly, we were promptly seated and informed about the specials – on an i-pad. Different.
On menu the choices are the ‘traditional pub grub’ of fish and chips, sausages, gammon, steak pies and the like and more inventive modern dishes such as Game, Port and Berry Pie, a Black & Blue Burger and Slow Braised Pork Belly. Mains prices hover around the lower mid-teens, which I think is pitching it just right.
I noticed from the menu they offer a wine selection to suit the mains, just follow the codes shown on the meals over to the wine list then select either a glass, half bottle or full. A very nice touch for the wine novice. The Derby Arms menu also gives a helpful description of how you may like your chargrilled steak cooked. Want a red centre? Well, that’s rare. Want some pink? That’s Medium-well.
Although the pub has a fine selection of wines I tend to prefer a real ale with my meal these days. They do a range of nurtured cask ales. My choice was Unicorn, a pale, rich malty bitter and a very good drop.
Attention to detail I love. Proper linen napkins on the table wrapped reassuringly weighty cutlery. Fresh warm bread served in a basket before the meal. It was all good. Even better when the food arrived.
To start, the deconstructed Black Pudding Salad (£6.25) served on a slate was entertaining to the eye and flavoursome. You can’t really go wrong with Bury Black Pudding, topped with a drizzle of mustard cream and a fine poached egg. It was a treat to slice open the egg and let the runny contents slide slowly down the pert sliced pudding. More of the delicate grain mustard cream was available in a little silver pan. An added treat was a delightful side-lick of mini potato and smoked bacon stack topped with green salad. Probably the star of the starter.
I like a good duck dish and sometimes order when visiting a new restaurant to evaluate the chef. The Duo of Gressingham duck (£16.95) certainly delivered. A perfectly cooked confit duck leg (absolutely delicious, crackling skin) as well as slices of pan fried duck breast drizzled with a tasty morello cherry and kirsch richly scented jus. Good quality duck as it should be. The fresh green sautéed accompaniments were absolutely spot on, crisp and tasty. The dish was finished with a large chefy swirl of the dark red cherry sauce. The thing that impressed me has to be the dauphinoise potato tower with Gruyère. This was simply wonderful. It roused my palate and a plate of just that would make me very happy. An additional side of skinny fries came in a cute mini fryer basket. If the duck breast had been slightly more pink and the skin crispy and the chef had been little less heavy handed with the sauce this would have been a perfect dish.
My eating partner had the Baked Garlic Mushroom starter (£5.85) and Chicken and Chorizo Penne Pasta (£12.50) with cheese topped garlic bread. Both dishes quite substantial, easy on the eye and ate well. Her verdict was simply ‘compliments to the chef.’
Leaving a good while to fully digest the first two courses we ummed and ahhed over whether our bellies had room for pudding. We were glad we decided to go for it as dessert was a knockout!
Mine was a Caramelised Pineapple and Ginger Pavlova (£5.95) with sweet chewy meringue, whipped Chantilly cream and vanilla ice cream in a little dark chocolate basket. It was large and it was satisfying. A good flavour taste combination of ginger, vanilla and Chantilly and added crunch from the pineapple chunks. In fact for a sweet I was impressed with the intricacies of its flavourings. I would certainly order again. A chefy touch was the addition of fine thin chocolate sticks. One dark and one milk chocolate. Literally snapped up in a moment. A faultless pudding.
We also ordered the White Chocolate and Banoffe Sundae (£5.85) with toffee sauce, popping candy and white chocolate ice cream. While my dessert was large this was ginormous (in fact Andy warned the pudding was a tad on the large size when ordering). Brought to the table it made quite a spectacle! A huge glass filled with a huge serving of rich gooey goodness. A sweet rush mountain, but delicate all the same. The white chocy ice-cream was perfect. Sadly, the popping candy didn’t set the mouth a blaze. More of a subtle crunch. Recommend all the same.
See pictures below for some of of the dishes.
The starters were a treat, the mains fulsome and the sweets richly decadent. A good balance of flavours and really great cooking. They are trying to make the food the main feature of the establishment and to that end they are successful. As for the service I couldn’t want for better, no issues at all. Top mark to the staff.
The Derby Arms is keen on customers commenting on their experience via Tripadvisor and I noticed they attempt to answer each and every review good or bad. I like this as it means they are aware of the feedback and can learn from it. I found some comments on Tripadvisor about the cost of the menu quite puzzling as in my experience the Derby Arms, in this tough trading environment, is competitive and offers great value for money (considering the size of the portions) certainly against similar eating establishments in Lancashire.
Impressed by my visit I intend to be back soon. It’s good to be surprised.
Value for money 4.5/5
Have you been to the Derby Arms? If so let us know what you thought in the comments below