Third to be reviewed in Blog Preston’s series of eateries with outside areas is the Stanley Arms in Lancaster Road in Preston City Centre.Advertisement
I took my mother Yvonne and my daughter Ground Zero for lunch on a chilly Wednesday, so we chose to sit inside rather than at one of the many tables and chairs on the pavement in front of the pub.
It’s not the most serene of outside areas in which to dine as there are a lot of passing busses trying to cough on your sausage. However, it’s ideal for anyone wanting a pint in the sun, perhaps before going a few yards down the road to the Charter Theatre to watch Preston’s unexpectedly long running box office smash, Sweet Fanny Adams, still going strong in its fourth year.
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From 1850 the Stanley Arms has been a constant presence in Preston. My mother Yvonne told me that in the 60s she and my father Dry Tony used to go to the soul nights back before my sister and I showed up to slowly chip away at those precious souls with our relentless requests for Bacon Grill, Sea Monkeys and Moon Boots.
The Stanley Arms is still known for its Soul Nights, as well as having an upstairs function room where small shows, art and acts add a bit of culture to the city. During lockdown it also made a name for itself for delivering magnificent roast dinners to people in their pyjamas who were ‘working from home’.
It was almost empty so we chose a seat by the window and decided on what to eat. Yvonne had already informed us that she wasn’t hungry and would only order something small, then to nobody’s surprise chose a whopping halloumi and pesto burger which came with chips, coleslaw and a small side salad.
She’d asked for some bacon to be added, and enjoyed her meal so much that she cleared her plate. I managed to sneak a bite of the burger and it was excellent. Definitely something I’d order next time, and I’d ask for a slice of pineapple on it as well.
Ground Zero ordered a ‘small’ portion of fish, chips and mushy peas, which was easily big enough to fill most stomachs. The fish was fresh and the batter was light and crispy, which scored another success.
I went for the American breakfast, which featured bacon, fried potatoes, sausages, pancakes, waffles, beans, hash browns and maple syrup. It didn’t look too appealing as the pancakes, waffles and hash browns seemed like they were from catering packs, and the sausages were a tad shrivelled. If I’d nodded off into my block of scrambled eggs halfway through Yvonne’s story about the time my dad told her she had big hands, they would have bounced me back upright without having missed a word.
Hang on, though! It tasted far better than it looked. After a few mouthfuls of the herby sausages, scrambled egg and hash browns I realised that the combination tasted exactly like sausage and egg McMuffins from That McPlace, especially after I’d used all of the available packets of salt on them. The bacon may have been cooked or kept warm in an oven which dried it out a fair bit, but I was fine with that as I’d asked for it crispy. Also, my glasses prescription is so high that my eyes are protected from any rogue pig shards should they shatter when I fork them.
The pancakes and waffles weren’t the hot, fluffy homemade type that might be found in a diner on Route 66 but that’s because I wasn’t in a diner on Route 66, I was in a pub in Preston City Centre. The whole bill, including a pint of lime and soda, a coke and the two good meals that my family enjoyed came to just over £25, so fair enough.
In retrospect, should I have gone for a full English it would most likely have been much better as the sausages were great and the eggs would have been the non-bouncy fried type. Instead I’d ordered something that was bound to contain several pre-made items for the price, and that was less a failure on the part of the Stanley Arms than it is my own fault for ordering an American breakfast in an English pub that’s known for its excellent roast dinners.
The staff had the warmth and friendliness that can usually only be found in a traditional and unpretentious Northern local, and it gave the Stanley Arms the type of energy that made me miss the days when pubs were hubs of the community and anyone feeling lonely could nip into one and feel less so.
(Although they’d probably better leave by eleven if they’d rather not be dragged into an impromptu rave by a gurning 50-year-old, which is what happened to me the only previous time I went there. As I mentioned before; we’re in Preston, cha.)
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Do you need to tell Karen how ridiculous she is for ordering an American breakfast even though she’s already acknowledged it? Go for it in the comments.