Despite living just a few miles down the road from Claughton I’d never thought to visit its 250-year-old historic inn The Fenwick.
An invitation from owners The Seafood Pub Company to try out its new accommodation, however, left me packing the wash bag faster than I could say full English breakfast.
Perhaps ownership changes and a few closures left me unsure whether it was still a going concern, but we’d heard good things of late, not least as the restaurant currently sits at Number 2 on Trip Advisor’s Best Places to Eat in Lancaster.
The Fenwick – which is probably best known in recent local history as the place that campaigned for real gravy (its former owners featuring on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares in the noughties) – has had a complete makeover.
The Seafood Pub Company took over in 2013, The Fenwick being one of six of its growing number of award-winning Lancashire gastro pubs and hotels.
On arrival on a cold, blustery near dark Saturday afternoon my wife Liz and I were greeted by manager Tom Wilkinson in the inviting and cosy bar area.
Tom quickly went through the particulars of the stay and booked our table in the restaurant for later that evening.
He then led us back out the door to the new accommodation - nine new en-suite bedrooms accessed via a flight of steps to the side of the building.
The set-up reminded me of a rural French motel, but the comparison ended when we entered the sumptuous junior suite at the end of the hall.
Opened in January, the rooms boast modern touches with a country living feel.
A thick carpet, thick curtains against deep farmhouse window sills, and a beamed ceiling all gave off that “we’ll sleep well tonight” feeling.
The bathroom was large and modern, with a deep bath and lots of light.
What attracted me most to the room was the sight and sound of a babbling brook through one of the windows outside. Relaxing to say the least.
The restaurant was chilled out and jovial when we took our seats around 7pm, the huge original fireplace throwing out a nice bit of heat as the logs crackled and set the scene.
Service was prompt, friendly, and most importantly down to earth. We weren’t allocated one individual waiter and it was great to meet and speak to some of the relaxed, humorous and at times entertaining staff.
Our starters were all about the seafood.
We chose scallops with black pudding and mussels in a sweet and tangy sauce with crusty bread from the specials menu.
We also picked out a bottle of Spanish Garnacha from the extensive wine menu to go with our meal.
The starters were delicious, full of flavours and plenty of kick in the mussel sauce, while the scallops were cooked to perfection.
It put us in great expectations for the mains. I took on a huge T-Bone pork steak with a creamy sauce and Bombay potatoes with grilled pear and vegetables, and Liz opted for the monk fish with lime and coconut. Both from the specials menu.
Again, fantastic food. Plentiful and freshly cooked with an individual, professional style.
There was, of course, enough room for dessert, Liz went for the caramel chocolate pot with salted peanut praline, while I found the idea of a passion fruit creme brulee with Viennese biscuit too tempting to ignore.
It was an excellent culinary experience, and we enjoyed a few more drinks in the bar area, chatting with Tom about the pub and its history, before calling it a night and relishing a child free lie-in in the morning.
Ultimately refreshed, breakfast was served in the restaurant with a choice of full English (me), smoked salmon and scrammbled eggs (Liz), and even a grass fed rump steak (next time).
There were plenty of cereals, yoghurts and drinks laid out too.
We took our time over the meal and again thoroughly enjoyed it.
After packing up to leave we donned a pair of wellies each and had a walk up the track across from the inn which wound up into a beautiful gorge with a waterfall and stream running through it, flanked on either side by ancient woodland.
We had a much needed break at The Fenwick, away from the daily grind, and remembered the importance of some self-indulgence from time to time.
We’ll definitely be going back in the near future, after all, it’s only up the road.
There are lots of offers you can take advantage of as well, so check out The Fenwick’s Facebook page for more information.