After catching a fleeting glimpse of Father Christmas as he made his way from Lancaster Castle to Market Square for the lights switch on on Sunday, we decided to withdraw from the pressing crowd and find a quiet place to eat.
The Three Mariners is slightly off the city’s beaten track, but a destination nonetheless for those who appreciate the atmosphere and surroundings of a 600 year old pub.
A hostelry has been on the site since the 1400s, and the building is set into the stone of Castle Hill, rumoured therefore to harbour ghosts of varying identities.
We didn’t see any on this visit, but it was certainly a way of getting the kids to leave the gambling machine alone and sit down and behave.
The pub’s beautiful frontage is well lit and makes for a very inviting place, especially on a cold night.
With friends and their two children, we found a place to sit to the right of the main entrance.
The low beamed ceilings and chunky walls coupled with the dark wood panneling and low lighting creates a cosy ambience, and the well kept cask ale an ideal accompaniment.
The menu features traditional pub grub like fish and chips, steak and ale pie, lasagne, and even liver and onions.
There’s also a burger menu, hot and cold sandwiches and salads and a kids’ menu.
Liz and I managed to bag the last two pork Sunday roasts, which, we were informed, had been very popular throughout the day.
Our friends ordered the Steak and Mariner’s Gold Pie and the ominously sounding Chilli Death Burger. The kids went for their usual fish, chips and beans. As we waited for our food the pub filled up quickly, mostly with families.
Our meals arrived in good time and were well presented. The roast was plentiful, with lots of thick sliced pork, honey glazed parsnips, Yorkshire puds, roast potatoes, carrots and broccoli. The gravy seemed to be homemade, and was very tasty.
The only drawback here was that these last two pork roasts seemed a bit tired, demonstrated by the tough edges on the roasties and the temperature of the pork. But it was a good meal all the same.
Comments from the others were positive, the steak pie was well filled and very tasty and the Chilli Death Burger was “awesome, the sauce that came with it was pretty deadly, nice hot jalapenos on the burger and lovely mustardy coleslaw too,” according to our friend Adam.
As usual, the kids wolfed theirs down. The fish fingers were more like goujons with a nice golden batter and a good amount of white fish. We conceded (as is often the case) on dessert, and went for the sticky toffee pudding, chocolate fudge cake and trio of ice cream. All very nice.
Total price for four was £41, including drinks. Not bad at all.
It was great to see so many people in the city on Sunday for the Christmas lights switch on and entertainment.
These free events attract thousands, and the result is that after all the fun and games, people, like us on this occasion, will be looking for a place to go for a treat, meaning a great boost for our pubs and restaurants.
For me The Three Mariners has always been a place to go for great ale and a real fire, but its family friendliness and good pub grub has given it that extra dimension now.