FLYING THE FLAG…
Tedd Walmsley catches up with chef Steven Smith of the Freemasons, which has moved into the top five in the Morning Advertiser’s Top 50 Gastropubs in the UK
It was good to catch up with Freemasons’ Chef Patron Steven Smith shortly after the pub rose two places to take triumphant fourth place in the UK’s top 50 gastro-pubs and two days after this award-winning pub re-opened after its annual 10-day early January closure. This period is used to restore the pub to its timeless elegance and give the staff a richly deserved break after an incredible Christmas and New Year.
I was keen to see what 2017 had in store – with news that this ground-breaking pub had even more awards to be announced imminently. However, we first reflected on a fabulous 2016 culminating in December with the Freemasons being included in the Open Table Top 100 Best Restaurants 2016. They fly the flag for Lancashire being the only pub in this important listing. Combine this with the Good Food Guide 2017 highest ranking pub and a host of other awards from the likes of Hardens, and we can quickly see that the food, service and passion has been recognised across the industry and by its loyal and knowledgeable customers.
2017 sees a delicious new seasonal menu introduced, which we simply had to try – my son and a friend were on hand to help sample these delights. Each of the three choices from starters, main and desserts were stunning and our fellow diners were also enthralled by the presentation of the food and exemplary service.
‘Mix and match’ is encouraged by Steve and he prides himself on creating a food and drink experience for everyone’s appetite, taste and, crucially, budget. The pub always has a great atmosphere and the dining areas were packed on this Wednesday lunchtime. It really is a great way to spend time with friends, family or indeed a rare business lunch.
Following lunch Steve joined me to look at the private dining options upstairs – my twins celebrate a special birthday in May and want to enjoy a spectacular Sunday lunch with the rest of the family – where better than here at the Freemasons!
Steve of course had one or two suggestions to make the experience even more special – typical of the team wanting to create memories. A date is booked, but more of this in future issues.
HOT OFF THE PRESS!
Hot off the press are the latest awards to be bestowed on the Freemasons. As we go to print on the last day of January the Freemasons are in the top 10 spot, moving up two places to finish in an impressive fourth place in the Morning Advertiser’s Top 50 Gastropubs.
Celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of the great British gastropub, the top 50 are voted for by a selection of industry experts ranging from hospitality experts to food writers, executives chefs, pub guide editors and many more. The Freemasons joins esteemed company in the top five, with the Coach at Marlow in fifth place, the Pony and Trap in third place, last year’s winner the Sportsman in second and the Star at Harome taking the number one spot.
Following on from a fantastic year in 2016, in which the Freemasons won Best Food Pub in the Great British Pub Awards, retained its place as number one pub in the Waitrose Good Food Guide and moved up to 25th place in the Square Meal Top 100 Restaurants, 2017 is looking to be another successful year for Steven, Aga and the team at the Freemasons. With this top five finish the perfect start to the year, Steven said: “It’s always an honour to be voted for by your peers and we’re delighted to have not only have kept our place in the top 10 but to have moved up to fourth position. We believe we’ve created something really special at the Freemasons and it’s great to get recognition for all the hard work the team does day in day out. It’s also great to see a number of other Lancashire pubs on the list, helping us to fly the flag for the region!”
Freemasons at Wiswell
8 Vicarage Fold
Wiswell, Nr Clitheroe
Lancashire BB7 9DF
Steven Smith Chef & Managing Director
01254 822218 ext 2 / 07794 408887