The Continental situated on the banks of the Ribble, would have you believe it is on The South Bank of the Thames judging by their website.Advertisement
Since opening in 2009 it has secured its place as a venue for arts, a pint of real ale (mainly at the large beer festival it holds) and has a reputation for serving decent food.
I’ve visited on countless occasions, so I decided to see how the kitchen is currently faring.
Beer gardens are something of a premium in Preston, and anywhere that offers the luxury of grass and chairs should be welcomed.
Furthermore, the large conservatory area is a light pleasant spot if you can cope with the low din of the air conditioning.
The Continental offers a rotating variety of real ales, with plenty of choice. The wine is unadventurous but reasonably priced, and the bar does harbour a couple of whiskys that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else locally.
After hunting for a menu (which needed a wipe, was missing the wine section and was thrusted with no explanation to what the specials were), the gentleman working groaned that I should come back in twenty minutes as the kitchen was too busy, despite being approximately half full of diners.
Some management of my expectations as to how long I would be likely to be waiting for the food to arrive would have been nice. Instead I felt like I should be apologising for the inconvenience my lunch would have caused.
In regard to the food the starter of ‘Mixed Fish Plate of the Day’ for £6.25 was presented beautifully. Perhaps wrongly I assumed it would be larger then it was as a plate is generally something one shares; however, that is likely just my greedy nature.
It also took a while to arrive considering there is literally no actual cooking involved. The Continental advises their fresh fish is delivered daily from C & G Neves of Fleetwood, and they seem to be supplying a quality product. Each component had clean, sharp flavours that were very much savoured.
For mains the wordy Three Hour Slow Cooked Spiced Blackened Belly Pork for £12.95 was a generous slab of pig. The first mouthful was of sticky, sweet meat, which lit up my brain in the right way. However, all this sweetness and endless chewing got a bit tiresome and it turned into more of a challenge then a lunch.
To balance out the sweetness was the job of the wild mushroom and sun blushed tomato risotto, which was something of a disaster. Overcooked and under-seasoned, it was more like rice pudding than al dente risotto. The sun blushed tomato consisted of literally one sliver of tomato the size of a five pence piece as though placed in error. There was also one mysterious mouthful of chilli, which in all seriousness I presumed was there in error.
The wild mushrooms, consisted of just one kind. oyster, and I’m not sure what these lumps brought to the table.
The ‘Fresh rosemary, lemon & garlic marinated lamp rump’ for £13.25, was also presented handsomely. The lamb was served pink and cooked with care, but looked a bit silly in comparison to the mountain of mash it was resting on. The quality of the meat was high, but the brutal garlic strangled the lovely natural flavour of lamb. The red wine sauce acted as a lubricating glossy moat, while the Seasonal Vegetables for £1.75, were not seasonal but were vegetables that did a job.
Overall The Continental offers an attractive traditional menu with some proper cooking that has room for improvement. The service needs attention, but its location at the foot of Avenham Park provide the ideal location for you to work up an appetite or walk off a big meal.
Don’t just take our word for it, see what everyone is saying on Trip Advisor. The Conti currently has four out of five stars and a certificate of excellence.
Our food reviewers pay for themselves and aren’t invited by the venue, if we are we will always say in the review.
Have you eaten at the Continental? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments below