The Wagon and Horses is an inviting pub on a cold, dark and windy quayside, and at 7pm on a Saturday night, it’s already busy with diners, including families, and groups and couples beginning their night out.
There’s a nice relaxed buzz about the place, it’s well lit but not too bright, and the decor suits the pub’s setting as one of the grand old buildings lining St George’s Quay that give the former port its post industrial charm.
My wife Liz and I booked a table in advance, and after enquiring at the bar, we’re shown to a table for two towards the front of the pub in a little snug area.
I’m accompanied by a pint of Trooper, which is brewed by Wagon and Horses owner Robinsons, and inspired and created by Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.
An unlikely combination but the result is extremely moreish.
There’s a definite restaurant feel to the pub with waiting staff on hand and a more formal eating arrangement at the table.
We check out the menu, which is excellent and full of personality.
A nice touch is a map which shows where the kitchen gets its food supplies from, and it’s all from the north west region.
There’s an appetiser list, including breads, peppers, olives and seaweed, but we skip this, and move to the starters.
There’s some interesting stuff, including New England chowder with clams and scallops and beef carpaccio, but we go for Asian style mussels “in a magical concoction of eastern herbs and spices, fruit juices and soft fruit” served with artisan bread, at £6.95, and homemade game terrine wrapped in streaky bacon with plum chutney and toasted bloomer, at £5.50.
Both were absolutely delicious, and plentiful, although, as always, the mussels disappeared far too quickly.
Liz and I shared the starters and agreed they were pretty much unique to this menu.
For mains, I went for the trio of pork - slow roasted pork belly, sticky apricot and sage flavoured ribs served with sweet potato and thyme hash brown rosti and a pork sausage meat and apricot bonbon, at £11.25.
After some deliberation and questioning of the waitress about spice levels, Liz chose the lamb kheema vindaloo, with rice, fruit chutney and naan bread at £11.95.
The trio of pork was fantastic, the pork belly meat tender and easy to strip, the skin cooked properly, and full of flavour. Funnily enough the ribs were spicier than the vindaloo, but great all the same. Liz was very happy with the vindaloo too, and we finished off with a scoop each of Lewis’s ice cream, me banoffee, and Liz sticky toffee pudding flavour, and a glass of Rioja. The bill came to £56, which for the content wasn’t bad at all.
I’d never considered the Wagon and Horses to be a place to go for quality food, but after this meal, and the friendly and prompt service, I can safely say the pub has got it right on many levels.
Check out the website www.wagonandhorseslancaster.co.uk for more info on food, rooms and music at the pub.
By Nick Lakin.