The Parkers Arms in Lancashire

Usually I like to start restaurant reviews with a bit of background about the restaurant, its owners and chef, and a little of their collective story. But the Parkers Arms has been one of the UK’s Top 50 gastropubs for several years and many people have written many thousands of words on those topics already.

A quick web search will reveal many articles detailing how self-taught chef Stosie Madi and business partner Kathy Smith came to buy a long-abandoned, derelict pub in the tiny village of Newton-In-Bowland (near Clitheroe, in Lancashire’s beautiful Forest of Bowland) back in 2007 and transform it into a much-loved and very highly regarded pub restaurant. Today, Stosie cooks up a storm the kitchen while Kathy and her younger brother AJ look after front of house.

Parkers Arms in Lancashire Parkers Arms in Lancashire

You might wonder then why I’m writing a review at all, but the answer is that I was so utterly captivated by the food, and bowled over by the warm welcome that I feel compelled to add my own humble words of tribute!

I met Stosie on Twitter back in 2009, the year both of us joined the platform and quickly became part of a wonderful community of food lovers that encompassed restaurateurs, food journalists, cookbook authors, food bloggers and many others who simply love to cook and eat good food. All of which to explain that it’s been fifteen years that I’ve been intending to go to Parkers Arms. And yes, you don’t need to tell me about all those wasted years–I’m already kicking myself, but at least I have made it there now!

Thanks to recommendations from friend (and Kavey Eats contributor) Nicky, I booked us a couple of nights in nearby Clerk Laithe Lodge, and made reservations to eat at the Parkers Arms for both Saturday night and Sunday lunch. Excessive? Maybe. But I’m so happy I listened to her!

Guests book for the Parkers Arms three course menu, priced at £50 per person, which usually offers a choice of 3-4 starters, at least 5 mains and 3-4 desserts. There is also a selection of individually priced snacks and small plates available to order, for those with eyes bigger than their bellies (that would be me!) or casual visitors popping in for a drink and bar snack.

The space is casual–as befits a restaurant within a pub–with wooden floors, teal wallpaper featuring a bold stags-head print, comfortable wooden tables and chairs, a roaring wood fire at one end of the room and a corner bar at another. There are two additional rooms off the main one, so plenty of space to cater for demand; and demand is high so make sure you reserve a table in advance to avoid disappointment.

Parkers Arms menu Potato scratchings (top), Pork Piri Piri Puffs

From the Snacks section come crunchy, salted shards of Potato scratchings (£6) and a bowl of ethereally light and crisp Pork piri piri puffs (£6.5)–be warned that the piri piri is fiery hot, not for the faint-hearted.

Both are a good foil to my Aperol negroni and Pete’s pint of local brewery Bowland’s Hoppy Hedgehog pale ale.

Whipped cod's roe Whipped cod's roe

Whipped cod’s roe (£7.5) comes with slimline toasts and crunchy crudités including cucumbers, spring onions and radishes (with their fresh and peppery greenery still attached). The cod’s roe, topped with salmon or trout’s eggs, is so smooth and silken that it melts away on the tongue whilst imparting a strong, clean fish flavour.

Potato and wild garlic fritters Potato and wild garlic fritters

Potato and wild garlic fritters are an extra that’s not listed on the menu, sent out for us to try by Stosie. Hot from the fryer, crisp and light, these are the perfect bar snack-appetiser though it’s at this point I start to worry about my belly’s capacity for the three courses still to be served!

Fresh bread Bowland pork and free range Malham chicken terrine

Pete’s starter of Bowland pork and free range Malham chicken terrine comes with dressed salad and a bowl of piccalilli that he raves several times about. It’s a far richer and smoother terrine than we expected from the pork and chicken combination (a good thing) and pairs well with the very fresh bread served alongside both starters.

Manx queenie scallops in wild garlic butter Manx queenie scallops in wild garlic butter

My Manx queenie scallops in a wild garlic butter are similarly rapture-inducing; the sweetness of very fresh scallops comes through even against the intensity of the wild garlic butter. I could eat this dish every day for a month and be happy; indeed I would say it’s the nearest to a state of religious ecstasy that a heathen like me can expect to experience in life!

Charcoal grilled Burholme Farm hogget cutlet Charcoal grilled Burholme Farm hogget cutlet

My main of Charcoal grilled Burholme Farm hogget cutlet with Navarin sauce and a Lebanese-spiced hogget pasty comes with new season greens and my choice of fries or mash–I choose fries. Oh, this hogget is magnificent! Since moving to Wales we’ve been buying lamb, hogget and mutton direct from a rare-breed farmer by the half or whole sheep; hogget is our favourite for its combination of rich, intense flavour, a good fat content, and tenderness of the meat. This Burholme Farm hogget is all those things and an absolute delight served pink with cutlet bones French-trimmed so I can pick them up and gnaw after going in first with a knife and fork. I love that Stosie brings to bear her Lebanese heritage in the masterfully-spiced pastry, a clever means of showcasing hogget in two very distinct ways. The seasonal veg and fries are also all on the button.

Pie of the day - potato and cheese Pie of the day - potato and cheese

There are three pies available on the day of our visit including curried mutton, fish (fully encased in a pastry crust) and the one Pete chooses, a Cheese and potato pie. Described as essentially a rich potato Dauphinoise layered with plenty of cheese inside a pastry case, this is a double-carb masterpiece and the fries or mashed potatoes alongside make it a triple carb score! And to add to the richness, it’s served with a creamy garlicky sauce. There are some mixed seasonal vegetables to provide a balance. Stosie is famous for her pies and this is an excellent example; I’m keen to give the curried mutton pie a try on a future visit.

Baked 70% Valrhona chocolate mousse Amalfi lemon meringue pie

We are already pretty full by the time desserts roll around but gamely push on since we don’t want to miss out on the Baked 70% Valrhona chocolate mousse or the Amalfi lemon meringie pie!

The chocolate mousse is as strong and dark as I’d hoped and dressed with a cute chocolate meringue, shards of dark chocolate and a big quenelle of Chantilly cream. The cream is perfect to temper the intensity of the mousse every few mouthfuls.

The lemon meringue pie sits on the thinnest of crusts, all oozing lemon curd and floppy Italian meringue, both packed with flavour and creating a lovely balance of sweet with sharp. The pie is served with ‘ice cold Gisburn pouring cream’.

Our first happy hours in the Parkers Arms have come to a close, we are fuller and happier than we dreamed possible, and emotionally enthusiastic (if not physically ready) for a second feast a mere 16 hours later!

Parkers Arms in Lancashire Parkers Arms menu

Sunday lunch rolls around faster than our bellies might like but we’re all in and excited for another extravaganza of food.

The three-course menu offers some of the same dishes as yesterday as well as some new options, and there’s also the addition of a Walker’s lunch choice between Welsh rarebit or Lamb manouche dressed with salad leaves, with fries as an optional add-on.

We, of course, are braving the full three courses (and additional snacks) again.

Spiced lamb manouche Spiced lamb manouche

Embodying the legendary Parkers Arms generosity, Stosie sends out a Spiced lamb manouche (£20 when served with fries and a dressed salad) to all the tables near us, and I can see that the others enjoy it as much as we do. The bread is remarkably light whilst also moist and soft, and the spiced lamb, labneh, radish and pickled onions are a whirlwind of textures and flavours.

Smoked Tarleton beetroot Smoked Tarleton beetroot

Next Stosie sends out a variation on one of yesterday’s dishes, featuring Smoked Tarleton beetroot, labneh, thinly sliced radishes and cucumbers, sweet pickled onion, sharp sweet pomegranate seeds and a herby za’atar dressing, alongside some soft white bread to wipe everything up with.

Salt cod fritters

And yet one more that we didn’t order, a (thankfully taster) portion of the Salt cod fritters with a Caribbean-style spiced tomato sauce. How it is possible to achieve such crispness of exterior when the fritter dissolves almost instantly you eat it?!

Cornish crab parfait, freshly picked crab Cornish crab parfait, freshly picked crab

With a not insignificant volume of our belly space already filled, we move on to our ordered starters. For me, the Cornish brown crab parfait and freshly picked white crab, served with a carrot, orange and fennel slaw and thin crisp toasts. The parfait, hidden beneath a tumble of fresh white crab meat, is luxuriously rich and pungent. The pickled slaw helps to balance it, as does the sweet and delicate white meat.

Wild garlic custard tartPete’s Wild garlic custard tart is wibbly wobbly delicious–a canny savoury rendition of a Portuguese pasteis de nata. It’s served hot out of the oven with new season asparagus, a nicely dressed salad, and more of those glorious pink onions.

Charcoal grilled 60 day aged beef rump cap with peppercorn sauce Charcoal grilled 60 day aged beef rump cap with peppercorn sauce

The Charcoal grilled 60 day aged beef rump cap with peppercorn sauce, fries and a huge pile of judiciously-dressed leaves is a masterpiece! The ageing has resulted in a real depth of umami flavour without any of the funky game overtones that can sometimes accompany such ageing. The meat is tender but not pappy, and cooked just right. The accompaniments (crisp fries, peppery salad and creamy sauce) are each impeccable, yet none of them flamboyant–chosen to champion that sublime rump cap. Oh my!

Charcoal grilled peanut marinaded Malham free range chicken breast brochette, West African style at the Parkers Arms in Lancashire

Manifesting Stosie’s range of culinary influences and skills is the Charcoal grilled peanut marinaded Malham free range chicken breast brochette, West African style. The smooth, glossy and vividly orange Domodo sauce combines peanut butter, tomato and curry spices, pairing well with superbly moist chicken and steamed rice with wilted leaves.

Rhubarb parfait, almond tuile

I can scarcely believe we manage to find space for desserts but find it we do.

Pete’s Rhubarb parfait with almond tuile comes with roasted Tomlinson’s candle-grown rhubarb and a sauce made of the same. The flavours are clean and fresh, a perfect expression of this distinctively flavoured fruit.

Citrus pavlova

My Citrus pavlova is one of the best desserts I’ve had for ages, yet when I describe the simple combination of orange slices in a slightly jellied sauce, lemon and orange Chantilly cream and big dollop of meringue, you might wonder how that could be? The answer, as with virtually all of the dishes we have eaten during these two epic meals, is in the deft way Stosie extracts and distills the very soul of each ingredient, weaving them together with the ingenuity of a kitchen virtuoso.

It has not been a surprise to me how much we have loved every facet of our two meals here; not only for the food (of which every bite has been a delight) but for the warmth of welcome, the attentiveness of service and the agreeably relaxed setting. And yet, somehow the Parkers Arms has still exceeded my exceedingly high expectations!

I’m embarrassed that it took me fully fifteen years of online friendship to finally visit–and I’m cross at myself for missing out on so much deliciousness for so many years–but both my heart and belly are so full of happiness that those feelings of regret are submerged by the thought of future visits to come.

The Parkers Arms offers a three course fixed price menu for £50 per person, with a small number of additional small plates which are individually priced. It is recommended to make a reservation (bookings open 3 months ahead) at which time a deposit of £25 per person is taken from your credit card; credited to your bill when you visit. Visitors are welcome to pop in for drinks and snacks without a reservation, if there is space available. 

With thanks to Stosie, Kathy, AJ and their team for an enchanting experience, and for the extra dishes that were sent out on top of what we ordered! 

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6 Comments to "The Parkers Arms in Lancashire"

  1. team NotLeafy

    Your heartfelt enthusiasm leaps off this page! Just give us those potato and wild garlic fritters on repeat. Oh, and that cheese & potato pie! We’re still kicking ourselves for failing to order their lockdown pies.


    I hear you on that! I hope you guys can do a visit, they are helpful on catering to different diets!

  2. Paul Kelly

    I share your enthusiasm.

    I’ve grown tired of Gastro Pubs run by Wannabe Hestons. Stosie and The Parkers Arms are such a breath of fresh air.

    From a long list of Michelin and Gastro dining experiences, The Parkers Arms is one of the few I try to repeat. The others? Sportsman at Seasalter. Asma Khan at Darjeeling Express and more recently Bouchon Racine. The common theme. Good honest food treated and served with love and respect. No fancy foams or smears. Just great ingredients and great cooking.


    Having eaten too at Sportsman and Darjeeling Express (though more often at her home-based supperclub and then first restaurant location), I understand exactly what you’re saying. I adored Henry Harris’ Racine so Bouchon Racine is high on my list to visit!

  3. kaveyeats

    I’m not sure I could handle it, I wasn’t hungry for ages after these two epic meals!


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