Review: It’s all about the sprouts at this Bretherton buffet restaurant

Posted on - 25th June, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Food & Drink, Leyland, Opinion, Preston News, Pubs, Restaurants in Preston, Reviews, South Ribble News, What's On in Preston
The Blue Anchor beer garden
It’s a whopper

The next eatery with outside seating in Blog Preston’s series of summer reviews is The Blue Anchor in Bretherton, Leyland. 

Known for its buffet-style dining, it also has a huge garden area with plenty of tables well dispersed among mature trees and bushes. 

I took my friend Pauline to try the Sunday carvery, priced at £10.95 per head, having made sure to book a table in advance because it’s so popular. 

Customers order at the bar and are given tiny tickets to hand over to the staff operating the carvery, who then take a plate and ask what type of meat you’d like on it. The choice was shredded roast beef in gravy, roast chicken, gammon, pork or turkey.

I initially requested chicken and gammon but changed my mind after almost an entire chicken breast was put onto my plate. The helpful staff member told me that if I wanted some other meat later I could just come and ask for it.

The Blue Anchor buffet

As well as the hot options there was also a salad bar offering staples such as leaves and other healthy stuff, although I think I also clocked a pork pie hanging around on there as well, shuffling its feet and trying to hide its jelly.

There are two types of customers in the buffet world. The first are those who see a sign in a restaurant that reads ‘One Trip Only To The Salad Bar’, without caring that there isn’t a ‘please’ added to the end of it. They take their little side plate on automatic pilot and spoon a wee bit of their favourite items on to it while chatting to their friends about kittens and charity work.  

Then there are those who take that rule as a gauntlet thrown by a capitalist society, and will create a teetering structure worthy of a Dr Seuss character in order to rebel against authority.

Popular techniques include breadstick posts propping up a wall of cucumber slices or nachos, then stabilised with rice, pasta or couscous tamped down into a concrete. The next layers can be the less weighty ingredients such as croutons and salad leaves, as long as they’re glued together with a Caesar dressing. Celery stick RSJs are another potential option, but there’s always the danger of being expected to eat them.

As I was there to review the food, I needed to try as many buffet items as possible, but as there was a queue building I panicked and just started throwing stuff on like an amateur. I even forgot to use the Yorkshire puddings as gravy vats which is a particularly shameful mistake for a Northerner. Although I only took a little of everything (except mushrooms because they’re hideous creatures) my plate was piled high enough for me to try and shield it from other diners on the way back to my table.

Fortunately, the list of dishes was displayed on a board, so I could refer back to it if anything baffled me. My favourites turned out to be the sweet chilli parsnips, followed shockingly by the brussel sprouts in cream and peppercorn sauce… sprouts being the vegetable equivalent of the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Blue Anchor carvery
Stop it, looks aren’t everything

Many chain carveries feature dried out and depressed shards of meat, stingily chipped off the joint by a sad and sweaty teenager. Customers then shuffle on to the dessicated accompaniments underneath a sign reading ‘Help Yourself’.

Before they take in the grim array of vegetables, diners might assume that the sign was written by the management, but upon seeing the shrivelled horcruxes it appears more likely that it was a stark warning by a dying customer who had taken a razor sharp garden pea to the head. 

Apart from the invitation to return for more meat in addition to all the trimmings, what stands out at the Blue Anchor is the care and imagination that goes into every accompanying dish. There is no simple boiled veg here. Instead, there is Cajun seasoned cabbage, garlic and tomato potatoes, pan fried veg in black bean sauce, tarragon mushrooms, and broccoli and cauliflower cheese.

Even more impressively, 11 out of 16 of those dishes were listed on the board as vegan, in addition to the clear information on whether an item contained gluten.

Read more: Reviewing vegan options in Preston

At £10.95 for an adult and £6.95 for children, who also get ice cream, the Blue Anchor carvery is exceptional value. For an additional £4 diners may also have their choice of dessert.

Pauline and I both opted for the strawberry pavlova, which was disappointing as it consisted of a tiny catering meringue with a blob of ice cream, a small dollop of cream and three strawberries chopped into pieces. I don’t like ice cream and pavlova isn’t supposed to contain it, so I regretted choosing it over the rhubarb crumble, which was home made, so probably a far better option.

The Blue Anchor pavolva
A pavlova, allegedly. The ice cream realised it didn’t belong there, and tried to leave as the server put the plate down

I’ll definitely return to the Blue Anchor for a Sunday carvery, but next time I’m going to forgo the meat altogether because, as beautifully cooked as it was, the trimmings were even better. In fact, any vegans who miss a good Sunday dinner should consider doing the same as it’s wonderful value even without the meat. Just remember to book, the Blue Anchor is deservedly popular.

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