An outwardly unassuming pub on North Road in Preston isn’t a place where out-of-towners might expect to find an authentic selection of wood-fired pizzas. However, Prestonians have discovered that The Moorbrook pub is an oddly perfect blend of quirky local hub, craft beer treasure-trove and laid back pizzeria.Advertisement
I say laid-back because the hand-made pizzas are ordered and paid for at the bar, and delivered to the table in cardboard take-away boxes. Forget cutlery, that’s for Southerners and old people. No perfectly circular pizzas here, it’s good to go as long as it fits in the box. Expect one small paper serviette per person, and don’t wear anything that will show up a tomato stain. Lastly, don’t bother trying to take an appetizing photo of it for Instagram because all you’ll end up with is cold pizza.
So, taking into account the lack of table service and the staff’s student-level dedication to dodging any washing-up, why was the place packed on a Thursday evening?
It’s due partly to that very lack of pretentiousness. It’s the welcoming staff, cheery Northern atmosphere, hands and clothes covered in tomato sauce and taste prioritised over aesthetics. Not to mention the extensive array of real ale. Mostly however, it’s the plain cardboard boxes containing some of the best, most inventive pizzas in Preston.
That’s why a group of friends and I always make sure we arrive for the monthly Moorbrook Quiz early enough for pizza. The reasonably priced menu contains pizzas ranging from traditional to unexpected, including everything in between.
Pizza purists can play safe with old favourites like tuna and onion, margarita or pepperoni, whilst the more adventurous can opt for jerk chicken with coconut, mango and avocado salsa.
Europhiles who are happy to play fast and loose with their arterial health might brave a whole baked Camembert with chorizo, garlic and rosemary in a calzone. Alternatively, for a first date that isn’t going well there is the opportunity to put the final nail in the coffin by choosing a topping of sardines, fresh garlic, feta and rocket.
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I ordered the latter, but requested that the sardines be replaced with the controversial topping of pineapple. It was perfect; a thin crispy base with lots of well-distributed topping and a fabulously garlicky tomato sauce.
A friend seated opposite me ordered the meat feast. His pizza looked a little pale and had a slightly perturbing droop to it. Nevertheless, he ate it all without bringing it to the attention of the staff, and clearly enjoyed it. Not so much the rest of the table who had to watch the floppy, mono-napkinned carnage unfold like a zombie B-Movie.
The pizzas for the other six in our group were fortunately all cooked perfectly with no skimping on the toppings.
There is very little to criticise about the Moorbrook pizza experience. I’d like to have the option of cutlery or better still- napkin dispensers on the tables so I never again have to see Craig looking like he’d gone at his pizza alone in the dark.
The only other micro-quibble I have is that there are no condiments on the table. The pizzas are very well seasoned but as I like to go overboard with black pepper I have to ask a busy waiter for some. I’m then reunited with the Moorbrook’s elderly pepper mill. It contains one tenacious and elusive peppercorn that’s been successfully playing cat and mouse with customers for the last six months.
I found no other negatives, and I had plenty of time to look for them whilst attempting to avoid seeing Craig trying to eat his meat feast with his ears.
Read more: The Moorbrook named as Central Lancashire CAMRA’s pub of the year
To sum up, The Moorbrook just gets it right, but if you need any more convincing, it has just been declared Pub of the Year by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).
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Have you eaten at The Moorbrook? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below