My friend Prudey Coops and I accidentally went to The Fleece Inn in Penwortham because I was hiding from someone. It quickly became apparent that The Fleece deserved a review as part of Blog Preston’s best and worst restaurants series according to TripAdvisor.
In a prime position on Liverpool Road, it is well placed to attract passing customers whilst the busy road hinders anyone wishing to leave. Possessing three stars on TripAdvisor, customer reviews on TripAdvisor mention, “poor service, appalling food and expensive drinks.”
As it was a sunny day the large beer garden was packed and there were quite a lot of uncleared tables. We chose one in a less crowded area and decided what to eat.
The menu contained the usual bog-standard offerings such as burgers, fish and chips and hunters chicken. The list of starters contained seven options; six of which are deep-fried including the ravioli or seven if they’ve worked out how to deep-fry soup.
There was also a two-for-one offer from which Prudey Coops chose fish and chips and I opted for “chicken Kiev with a twist.” We ordered our food and drinks at the busy bar and went back to our table to wait.
The food was brought out within about twenty minutes by a young man who plonked our plates down and scarpered. Unsurprising as it looked so dreadful that we both stared at it in silence and then started laughing.
All deep fried fish is dead, but this was ultra dead. It exuded an air of misery and hopelessness that must surely have begun long before it was pulled from the sea. The garden peas were so dried out that they had become multi-faceted lumps of purest green. Pretty, but we weren’t there to make jewellery. The chips were the usual uninspiring frozen type, but definitely the least terrifying food on the plate.
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The chicken Kiev with a twist was supposed to be breaded chicken with a pot of garlic and herb sauce on the side, but it became apparent that the chicken wasn’t stuffed with garlic sauce because it would be physically impossible to cut it open.The sauce didn’t have any flavour of garlic but instead tasted overwhelmingly of melted margarine. The chips were the only vaguely edible things on the plate, and only because they were the pick of a bad bunch.
I had a bite of the chicken and four chips before I gave up. Prudey Coops ate some chips and peas. She did something to the fish but exactly what was unclear. It definitely looked disrespected.
Nobody came out to check how our meals were, which was unsurprising. The Fleece is the first restaurant for which I have struggled to find anything positive to say. The interior had inoffensive generic pub chain decor. The building is quaint and clearly old, so one could hope there might be the added excitement of a ghost. If not an ancient spirit, surely the tragically disrespected miseryfish?
The pub has the added attraction of plenty of outside seating in a large beer garden, allowing customers to enjoy the sun whilst watching a dog let everyone know to whom all the chairs, tables and customers legs belong. There is also free WiFi.
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I had assumed that The Fleece was an independent pub, but a quick Google told me that it’s part of a chain called Greene King. I went on to read many grim reviews of that chain, indicating that it maintains a consistent level of poor quality across all venues. Frozen, pre-packed, cheap ingredients are quickly microwaved or deep-fried before being churned out to customers as part of a two-for-one offer that is less of a bargain and more of a threat.
Both meals cost £12.49 as the fish had a £1 supplement. It sounds like a good deal but is a lot of money to pay for a few chips and a couple of bites of fish or chicken. I can’t comment on the staff as apart from quickly ordering at the packed bar and a brief interaction as the server brought our food, we didn’t see any. The drinks were priced around the middle of what one would expect from a restaurant, but on the dearer side for a pub.
I found the TripAdvisor reviews to be accurate and can’t recommend The Fleece for food. However, it might be an acceptable venue for people wanting to watch sport or have a drink and use the WiFi.
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Have you had a good or bad experience at The Fleece? Let us know in the comments below.