The next restaurant to be reviewed in Blog Preston’s series of dog-friendly establishments is The Golden Ball of Longton.Advertisement
I took my Chihuahua Archie, my mother Yvonne and my father Dry Tony to try out the hospitality of the restaurant that won the Lancashire Tourism Dog Friendly Award in 2019.
First impressions were good; there was a little outdoor area with an open tepee sheltering the seating from the elements. The inside was modern, warm and inviting with the huge fireplace contributing to the feel of a cosy country pub, and we received a warm welcome from the front of house manager.
Read more: New outdoor tepee dining area added to Longton pub as it prepares to reopen
We were given the a la carte menu and also the lunchtime menu which offered two courses for £10. There were plenty of options to choose from, with starters such as patatas bravas and caprese style salad. Yvonne chose smoked mackerel pâté with pickled cucumber which arrived quickly and was accompanied by a side salad and toasted ciabatta.
Yvonne loves smoked mackerel but I’m not a fan as I find it greasy and so offensively fishy that I suspect it’s an evolutionary move. Perhaps the female mackerels are only attracted to the strongest, greasiest male mackerels, to the horror of their parents, like an aquatic Dirty Dancing but cleaner, unless they’re off the coast of Rhyl. I was surprised that the mackerel taste was so subtle; the chef must have added ingredients to tone it down just the right amount.
Dry Tony’s antipasti starter was fabulous, with generous helpings of green olives, prosciutto, salami, fresh mozzarella, fried chorizo, ciabatta and rocket.
I waited patiently for my starter of black pudding fritters with mustard mayonnaise and rocket salad, but when I commented to my parents that it was taking a while they pointed out that I hadn’t asked for one, which was a blow. However, it explained why the manager only asked me if I was going to have dessert when we ordered, so he wasn’t just singling me out because I look like I’d be all over the desserts and he needed to make sure they were stocked up.
For the main my dad had beer battered fresh haddock, hand cut chips and mushy peas. The fish was light and crispy and the chunky chips were perfectly fluffy, leaving me with slight main course envy. I chose the Golden Ball beef burger with cheese, relish and skin on fries.
It was excellent and topped with a freakishly big onion ring that, like the pattie, fries and relish, also looked homemade. It was the size of the rubber rings that PE teachers used to throw at pupils’ faces in the 1970s whilst pretending that they wanted us to catch them, which in those days was how most stubborn milk teeth were removed. However, as it tasted of onion instead of instant potato and terror, that’s where the similarities ended.
Yvonne opted for oriental style sticky beef salad, spring onions, peppers and sesame seeds. The beef was intensely flavoured and complemented by a soy dressing. Yvonne found the dressing a little on the salty side for her taste, but still thoroughly enjoyed it. It might have benefitted from some potato, croutons or other starchy carbohydrates as a main course on its own, but was just enough when preceded by a starter.
For dessert I had a warm Belgian waffle with caramel sauce and honeycomb ice cream.
As I haven’t been for a meal with Yvonne for quite some time I absent-mindedly told her to help herself which, much to my horror, she did. She even went after a strawberry garnish that I was saving until the end. Then to rub it in she said, “I don’t normally like sweet things, but I’d have that,” like I hadn’t just watched her eat most of mine.
My dog Archie had been extremely well behaved throughout our visit, which paid off when the manager asked if he would like something from the Doggy Menu, which turned out to be vegetables and gravy with either chicken, beef or cod.
They’re all priced at £5, but a doggy meal is free for owners dining at the restaurant who join The Golden Ball Facebook dog group. The Golden Ball doesn’t just allow dogs, it welcomes them.
According to Dry Tony his beer was well kept, and the glass of Sauvignon Blanc that I had was excellent. With Yvonne’s half a cider the entire bill came to just over £38, which was incredible value for the service and the quality of the food. The prices in the a la carte menu were similar to those of other reputable restaurants (between around £12 and £16 for a main course) but, considering the standard at which The Golden Ball operates, those evening prices are more than justified.
It’s a gem of a village pub that gets everything right, and Archie and I will be back for some black pudding fritters and another doggy dinner.
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Have you been to The Golden Ball of Longton? Let us know in the comments.