Tucked away in a charming hamlet among the rolling hills of the Ribble Valley, The Freemasons at Wiswell is an unassuming village pub – blink and you’ll miss it. But keeping your eyes peeled in this quaint slice of the country will pay off in spades.
Steven Smith’s rustic yet elegant Lancashire gastropub with rooms, is the perfect getaway for foody folk with a penchant for refined dining in unostentatious surroundings. There is nothing pretentious about dining here, however, the menu is up there with the best in terms of creativity and contemporary flair. Each dish is carefully curated with an absolute understanding of food and flavour.
The Freemasons at Wiswell boasts four super luxurious bedrooms, and with an AA 5 Gold Star Restaurant with Rooms Rating, and an AA Breakfast Award, it’s certainly worth making a weekend of it and treating oneself to the full Freemasons experience – have you ever had a tasting menu for breakfast? Stick a pin in me and roll me home…..
I actually had the pleasure of the spending the weekend here over summer, which was cracking. The pub lends itself to warmer weather wonderfully, however, I have plans to go back this autumn as I can see the cozy corners of the restaurant offering a completely different experience in colder climes. Whatever the weather, this is an incredibly enjoyable place to spend a couple of days, you can quote me on that.
I was lucky enough to land the super chic Mr. Fox suite, a tasteful room with timeless decor and lashings of luxury including a mezzanine roll-top bath and dressing room. The accommodation offering here is akin to any of the the big hitting hotels whilst retaining all the charm of an independent. The devil is absolutely in the detail, from the opulent double sink bathroom adorned with floor to ceiling marble, lavish soft furnishings, fluffy towels and matching robes, to the top end technology including Sonos sound system, 50 inch smart TV and Nespresso coffee machine – quite unexpected if I’m honest. I initially thought this was a pub with rooms, I think however, it is actually a luxury hotel of bijoux proportions with a secret swag you only know, if you know….
Of course the jewel in the Freemasons crown, is undeniably the food. But let me say this, I’m not one for taking food as seriously as some, and the pretensions of ‘fine dining’ leave me cold in all honesty. The offering at the Freemasons is far from pretentious. Creative, contemporary and most importantly (to me) completely delicious, but never pretentious. The front of house team are professional, knowledgeable and evidently, and rightly so, very proud of the product they have created at The Freemasons, which in a nutshell, is an incredibly good restaurant with rooms.
The menu is a frenzy of seasonal ingredients whipped into seriously tasty dishes by a kitchen team who know their onions. If you are visiting anytime soon, it is imperative that you order the soup. Whatever the soup is, it will be delicious, but for me, it’s merely a side show for the Truffled Cheese Hot Dog. O.M.G. Don’t visit this place and tell me you didn’t order it. I stole the photograph from their website as mine just did not do this beauty justice. It’s sublime.
We were treated to Roast loin of Whitby Cod with whipped cods roe with a vegetable and herb nage. This dish was exquisite, full of fresh flavours and textures that married together perfectly. The food here is presented beautifully and absolutely optimises fine dining in every sense of the word – apart from, the portions are proper. You will not leave this gaff hungry.
The aged Lancashire beef, roast sirloin and sticky cheek served with gherkin ketchup and crispy potato was absolutely knockout and the stand out dish for me. Meat that (I know I know, its cliche) melts, with a killer kick of gherkin to cut through the rich beefy flavours.
Dessert was a real treat for me – Meringue pie, and the only one that has ever come close to my mums homemade one that she only ever made to take to my cousins house on Boxing Day. It was delightful, and polished off a most memorable meal, well, not quite, I couldn’t resist the homemade chocolate rose ‘teacakes’. I’m not telling you – you’ll have to find out for yourself, but try save a little space for them.
I can’t rate this place highly enough. From the attractive accommodation offering with the upmost attention to detail, to the friendly front of house team and comfortable surroundings, and of course the cracking food served with a culinary flair that can only come from a kitchen team that love what they do – you NEED to visit the Freemasons at Wiswell. Tell them I sent you.
PS – Don’t miss the homemade crumpets at breakfast.
Words by Joanne Brook-Smith
Christmas is just around the corner, treat yourself to a seasonal gastronomical delight at the hands of Mr Smith and his team…..
Served from 1st to 23rd December, Wednesday to Sunday – Lunch and Dinner (not available Saturday evening)
2 Courses – £32 | 3 Courses – £37
CHILDREN UNDER 10 HALF PRICE
Steven says: “It’s all about treating customers to our full gastronomic dining. Deep mid-winter finds a whole range of produce at its very best, such as chestnut, pumpkin and of course Turkey. Throughout the year I try to bring the best ingredients to the Freemasons at Wiswell table in an ever-evolving Seasonal Menu, and the Christmas period is my chance to serve up a warmly spiced slice of country life.”