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Review: Bland, brown and grey feature at this Whitestake carvery

Posted on - 15th April, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Food & Drink, Opinion, Preston News, Pubs, Restaurants in Preston, South Ribble News, What's On in Preston
Farmers Arms turkey carvery
Sometimes there’s not enough pepper in the world

As my daughter Ground Zero was home from uni this week and desperately wanted a roast dinner as much as I desperately didn’t, we decided to visit The Farmers Arms in Whitestake.

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As a Stonehouse chain restaurant, it has a menu that covers almost every type of cuisine as, alongside the pizza menu and the carvery, it contains dishes such as fish and chips, chicken and bacon salad and a plethora of deep-fried items.

Ground Zero chose turkey as her carvery meat, and then drifted along the accompaniments to add stuffing, mashed potato, carrots, peas and what turned out to be some sort of cauliflower cheesecake. It looked like cauliflower cheese but it was bizarrely sweet, and the white sauce was decidedly un-cheesy.

The verdict on the stuffing was “it’s alright”, and the carrots were “just carrots”, but the garden peas had dried out under the heat lamps to such an extent that most of them had corners.

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I was under the impression that everyone who makes a horrible roast dinner (me) knows that you can still pull it back from the brink of insult with a decent gravy, and that splurging whilst slumming it with chicken Bisto is forgivable in such circumstances. Nope.

My Grandma once told me that during the Second World War stockings were like gold dust, so women would paint their legs with gravy browning and draw seams up the back in eyeliner. For those in the younger generations, gravy browning was a cupboard staple before gravy granules were invented. It didn’t taste of anything, just existed to de-beige a sauce made of meat juice, flour and a stock cube if you were feeling swish.

Nowadays tights can be bought everywhere, so on the bright side we can at least be happy that the gravy didn’t taste like a Nana’s popsock.

None of the gravy pots were labelled, but fortunately for our vegetarian friends I’d guess the ingredients in the entirety were simply water and brown.

Farmers Arms gravy
Brown

I ordered the garlic pizza flatbread starter as it would give me an indication of what the pizzas were like. It arrived at the table at the same time as my main course, meaning that one of them would be eaten cold, and it was dry, brittle and uninspiring.

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Farmers Arms garlic flatbread
Looks aren’t everything, unfortunately

My burger was a good size but was bland, under seasoned and cooked just enough to make it grey without adding any charred flavour; although half of the bun was burnt black, so I suppose there’s that.

The frozen chips were frozen chips. There was no lettuce inside the bun, but I don’t blame it. Following on with the bland theme, some mayonnaise was hanging around on it, but ketchup had to be sourced from a bowl next to the Gravy Browning station. Even that was watery… has Stonehouse invented Ketchup Redding?

Farmers Arms burger
Grey

I could taste so little of the food that I genuinely started wondering if I had COVID-19 again, but a sticky toffee pudding dessert disproved my theory because it was surprisingly nice. I’d ordered it with cream instead of custard, which turned out to be the processed shaving foam type, which was a shame, and the pudding and toffee sauce looked like a meatball with gravy, but nevertheless it tasted like real sticky toffee pudding! Hurray!

Farmers Arms sticky toffee pudding
I don’t recommend the cauliflower cheesecake, but the sticky toffee meatball wasn’t bad considering the company it was keeping

Ground Zero went for apple pie, which was even better. The pastry was crumbly and sweet, and it was packed with apple and smothered in hot custard making it enough for a meal on its own. This was fortunate as we had eaten very little of the earlier courses.

Farmers Arms apple pie
I bet the apple pie felt like that pretty blonde daughter in The Munsters

We’d both chosen from the set menu: three courses for £13.29 and two courses for £10.79. It seemed like a good deal, but the poor quality of the food made it hard to enjoy, and a lot was left uneaten. It was the culinary version of The Blair Witch Product; an hour of boredom followed by ten minutes of excitement at the end. A decent finale but no way am I sitting through that again.

The service was friendly but nobody came to ask if everything was okay with our food even when they cleared plates that were almost untouched. I’m not surprised, as the staff must get sick of apologising for an issue that starts in the boardrooms of chain restaurants like the Farmers Arms and results in churned out food that’s either deep fried or deep boiled. The unfortunate staff on the front line then have to cook, serve and apologise for it.

The saying “you get what you pay for” could be wheeled out in this situation, and that used to be the case for a cheap and cheerful roast dinner at the Farmers Arms years ago. But at £8.29 for a traditional carvery, its food is no longer cheap, and is far inferior to the smaller, independent businesses in the area.

Instead, if you want homemade, traditional comfort food and you can get a table, I’d recommend that you try the fabulous buffet for £9.99 at the Blue Anchor in Bretherton.

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

Do know how your Nana’s leg would have tasted? Maybe tell us about it in the comments? Or don’t. No pressure. Just whenever you feel ready.

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