Guide

The Best Gastropubs in the North West

Below you’ll find the very best gastropubs in the North West, serving the kind of bang on British pub fare that’ll make you want to plop down by the fire, kick off your wellies and whistle Jerusalem.

  • 4 Book Now Yorkshire

    The Moorcock

    Modern British

    An astonishing arrival on the Northern culinary scene

    This unassuming pub serves foraged and regional ingredients in thrilling configurations, catching the eye of national food critics and diners alike. The Moorcock team are Alisdair Brooke-Taylor (chef) and Aimee Turford (front of house). They worked together in Australia then at Belgium’s much-missed Michelin star, In De Wulf. Yet having only opened their joint venture in 2017, they’ve got a success on their hands. The setting is back-to-basic pub, with a bar in one room, restaurant space in the other. Bar snacks cost up to £7 – think jack by the hedge fritters (a kind of fast-growing wild garlic), house-made charcuterie, spiced pork scratchings and unpasturised organic cheeses. The menu proper could include crispy fish skin and tarts of foraged berries, wood-roasted goat, leeks with new season garlic and pickled plums, homemade black pudding, roasted beeswax ice cream and a cascades of herbs and leaves that go way beyond plate dressing. Wines are largely natural and from small producers, while traditional Belgian beers are another strength. A rising star that looks set to eclipse many of its neighbours.

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  • 10 Book Now Lancashire

    The Freemasons at Wiswell

    British

    Cooking goes from strength to strength at this adventurous food pub. Roaring fires, cast-iron fireplaces and pictures of fantastically proportioned livestock lend a cosy vibe to the renovated cottages which make up what’s often been described as the original gastro pub. But don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a static operation. Following a relaunch in 2009, traditional cask conditioned ales from the region’s finest breweries are served alongside over 250 international wines. Norfolk quail with truffle and hoisin sauce is a typical starter followed by crispy suckling pig belly with sticky pork cheek and ‘black pudding Paul Heathcote’ or venison, smoked over pine from Wiswell Moor, balanced against pear and Stilton. Steven Smith’s menu sees powerful flavours handled with ease. Pairings of Yorkshire rhubarb with duck egg custard or orange and vanilla rice pudding don’t drop the baton at dessert. Expect something really special.

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  • 11 Book Now Lancashire

    The White Swan at Fence

    British

    Some folk in the village stlll refer to it as “The Mucky Duck’ and you can still order a pint of Timothy Taylor’s at its very pubby bar but over the past three years the Swan has established itself as a destination fine dining spot thanks to 20something chef Tom Parker. From up the road in Burnley, at 16 he begged a start at at Michelin-starred Northcote, becoming a protégé of Lisa Allen and scooping a Young Chef of the Year award. That prodigious talent is evident throughout the short menus here, which change daily on the back of produce turning up on his doorstep. Maybe you’ll get a blob of luscious, home-smoked mash atop a seared fillet of Longhorn or a lobster raviolo, one large pasta parcel encasing the sweetest claw meat, matched by equally sweet butternut squash puree. A five course £45 tasting menu is the perfect introduction to a Swan on song.

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  • 15 Book Now Lancashire

    Parker’s Arms

    European

    Homely pub, serving and baking extraordinary, modern European food. This tastefully renovated pub and restaurant has everything the worldly gourmand could desire, with none of the faff and pretension that usually comes with that title. Wines and beers are plucked from the world’s finest makers while food is served in the clean lines of the restaurant and woody bar. The menu changes often and could include organic salmon croquettes with pea mayonnaise or a Portuguese-style wild garlic custard tart, rump of Bowland beef or Morcambe Bay megrim sole. Homemade pies (Lancashire cheese and potatoe, roast chicken and creamed garlic, with chicken fat pastry) are another strength. With pastries, ice creams, bread, chutneys and more made on site, dessert sees familiar faces pulled off with aplomb. Eccles cakes, vanilla custard, home-made curds and damson compote are just a few examples. A wonderful place to come and recharge the batteries, in one of the country’s overlooked corners.

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  • 26 Book Now Lancashire

    The Cartford Inn

    British

    This historic coaching house serves adventurous British pub food in poetic configurations. Cooking is by mushroom forager and head chef, Chris Bury, whose CV includes the Fat Duck and Claridges, while award-winning suppliers include local wine merchants, D Byrne and Gornall’s dairy, near Preston. Snails with ‘Nduja mayo, Bury black pudding doughnuts or seared lamb’s heart with red peppercorns to start, followed by Goosnargh duck breast with pickled, green strawberries, rump of local lamb with sorrel pesto and sticky oxtail and real ale suet pudding are typical dishes. Dessert, meanwhile, could be homemade cherry Bakewell tart with fresh thyme and homemade vanilla ice cream or something decadently chocolatey, with poached blackcurrants and smoked whey. The interior, some of which dates back to the 1800s, is packed with wood panels and idiosyncratic artworks while the wider complex takes in glass-clad extensions, an al fresco terrace, and cool, eco-style cabins, integrated into the landscape. A place to get away from it all for a day, or a night – and enjoy some of the best food in the region at the same time.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    The White Hart at Lydgate

    Modern British

    Rustic dining pub with excellent reputation and wine list. Located seven hundred feet above sea level, where Saddleworth Moor starts, the restaurant is located in an impressive former coaching house, and it’s a place for all; a composite experience including a restaurant and brasserie with two AA rosettes, pub, function areas and a boutique hotel. There are many cosy seating areas: low ceilings, beams, exposed stone walls and big fireplaces. Head chef Mike Shaw’s cooking, meanwhile, is all about local ingredients cooked with flair. Foie gras is served with smoked onion, for example, while elsewhere, there’s a fruity roast partridge with beer-braised red cabbage and wild mushrooms. Cheese is a strength with French and British options, while dessert could include duck egg custard tart, a passionfruit cheesecake, coconut yoghurt with chocolate and eucalyptus, or a pear tart tatin with liquorice ice cream.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Bird At Birtle

    British

    “Local chef’ Andrew Nutters’ near perfect gastropub .

    The big first-floor window at the rear of Andrew Nutter’s pub operation frames the moors – and this pub, a sister to Nutters’ restaurant proper – is an ode of sorts to its’ impressive, rural location, the menu as handsome as the view. Dishes are principally British and Lancastrian recipes, artfully delivered. Sticky slow-cooked Dingly Dell pork belly, a traditional prawn cocktail with artisanal sourdough or tempura Bury black pudding with Lancashire cheese; Nutter doesn’t shy from retro classics, and this menu makes you wonder why we don’t see more of them. Mains, meanwhile, give you what you want; there’s a short rib Birtle Burger, beer-battered cod, oak-smoked haddock with rarebit, home made bangers and gourmet peri peri chicken as well as dry-aged English steaks and an outstanding steak and kidney pudding. Expect more crowdpleasers in the dessert department; peach melba knickerbocker glory and creme brulee, for example while wines cover both showstoppers and schlurpers with seveal bottles drawn from Nutters’ impressive cellar. If you like the sound of this, see also Nutters Restaurant entry. “

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  • Book Now Lancashire

    Eagle and Child

    British

    Award-winning pub grub in the hills above Manchester This excellent pub is famous for Sunday lunches and gourmet pub food. Under the auspices of Glen Hackett, the décor is comfortable and pubby, with a major draw being the beer garden. Start with freshly baked breads, Lancashire sauce hummus, beer-battered black pudding, crispy chipirones or ‘heritage carrot tasting’ brulee. Firm favourites on the menu include the beetroot braised bulgar wheat with home grown honey and dill, the south coast clam linguini and the ‘Three Little Pigs’ slow braised belly, cheeks and shoulder– and Sunday lunch is a thing too. The pub won best food pub at the 2016 Manchester Food and Drink Awards and Pub of the Year at the Great British Pub Awards. Sourcing is impressive: sirloin comes from the Trough of Bowland via Albert Matthews’ butchers on Bury Market for example, while sticky endings include Heaton park honey and garden lavender panna cotta with blackberry and honeycomb. Enjoy a bottle of wine from the compact list, or a choice of Thwaites beer. The beer garden was jointly created with local food growing initiative, Incredible Edible Ramsbottom and Hackett has a back ground in youth work and so on, so much of his project here (and at other offshoots such as Heaton Park café and Fusiliers Museum in Bury) has training opportunities for young offenders, and those who might otherwise find it hard to get on their feet. A feel good, eat good kind of place.

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  • Book Now Yorkshire

    The Hinchcliffe Arms

    British

    Full-on British food delivered with flair and imagination. Putting the goodness of earth, river and sea on a plate, head chef and game expert Robert Owen Brown possesses both skill and character to turn locally caught creatures into the kind of hearty dishes you’ll really want to eat. Former head chef at The Bridge, ROB was an early adopters of the Manchester Egg (a Scotch Egg variant with black pudding wrapped around a pickled egg). Expect equally flavour-packed cooking here – crispy black pudding potato cake with tarragon sauce, for example, or hickory-smoked corn-fed chicken salad with parsnip crisps, alongside mains which celebrate traditional British cuisine. Whole roast grouse with game chips, and bread sauce, Cornish octopus with homemade saffron mayo, loin of local lamb or pheasant breast are typical. Desserts such as bread and butter pudding, ROB’s signature Vimto trifle, and selection of chocolate mousses, top off a hearty feast – and there’s a solid wine list too. Beers are supplied by Mancunian brewers JW Lees, little surprise give the impact that Owen Brown has made in the city. And the setting is perfect too; a real country pub, dating back to 1850 with open fires. What more could you want?

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  • Book Now Cheshire

    The Roebuck

    British

    Multi-award-winning pub in the Cheshire countryside. Winner of countless ‘best pub’ awards, and established in 1708, the latest incarnation of The Roebuck is owned by Cheshire Cat Pubs. The Grade II listed building is now a bonafide ‘rustic country inn’ with six bedrooms, a bar, a bistro and a tiered beer garden. Described as ‘classic bistro food’ the menu covers all your pub essentials from fresh, stone-baked pizzas to sharing boards (the ‘fromagerie board’ for examples include Taleggio, Comte, Brie and gorgonzola – there’s no standing on ceremony here), via small plates (crab mayo and crushed avocado with chilli, for example, crispy confit duck rolls and… Thai spiced chicken wings). Mains include lasagne, an updated chicken in the basket (thyme roast chicken with frites and madeira sauce) and a curried lamb shank in balti sauce. People pleasing puds take in pancakes and crème caramel and there’s an excellent wine list too, packed with the likes of Spanish Bobal. Quirky yet homely decor comes as standard at this lovely place to eat.

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  • Book Now Lancashire

    The Hearth of the Ram

    British

    Extraordinary pub food reinventing classic local flavours.

    Enjoy confident cooking in a historic, 200 year old pub on the cusp of the countryside. Marketing is a little like the Drunken Duck; comfort and service are pushed to the fore while fine, French techniques meet local flavours on a seductive menu. Start locally with sticky pork belly from Bowland and apple gratin or a parfait of Goosnargh duck liver served with a zesty marmalade gel. Mains suit an occasion, particularly the likes of the barramundi, served with a tempura oyster or trio of lamb with sherry jus. Hybrids such as grilled monkfish and aloo gobi work while dessert could include a spicy pineapple carpaccio, mint pomegranate and mango sorbet or a panna cotta with Irn Bru. Well, the owners are Scottish afterall: Euan and Dena Watkins, with more than 20 years’ experience in the trade. The wine list is small but spot on, and whisky stands out.

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