Following its closure due to the retirement of the the owners and its subsequent sale, the road to reopening the Grade 11-listed venue at Goosnargh has been delayed by lockdowns and red-tape, with the huge roadside ‘Coming soon’ sign marking the date revised every season optimistically.
But finally the time is nigh and Ye Horns is back and, although its carefully preserved historic facade looks much the same from the roadside, it’s quite the transformation.
With plentiful parking and beautiful seating areas to the rear, the black and white beamed pub-restaurant which has been a hostelry since c1782, is now an experience.
It is obvious a lot of money has been spent sensitively crafting and restoring the stunning interior; glass meets beams meets quirkiness in a labour of love that takes in old and new and provides somewhere for everyone, from a sunny outdoor table to a cosy fireside nook.
But it’s not just the reimagining of the interior that openly shouts ambition.
The appointment of chef-patron Sean Wrest from a kitchen in Yorkshire which he led to a coveted Michelin star, means the menus were never going to be ordinary, not least thanks to the Ye Horns’ physical location on the edge of the Forest of Bowland and close to the foot of Beacon Fell.
The area is home many of the county’s finest local producers from Mrs Kirkham’s Cheeses to Goosnargh Gin and more. It has positioned itself to have something for everyone and you are as welcome for a pint and bar snack as for the full restaurant experience.
Jubilee special commemorative coins handed out by Lancashire County Council
So, after reading a stated promise of ‘creative food, exceptional service’, we were very much looking forward to our Saturday evening meal. We arrived on foot and hungry and the beauty of the building was immediately apparent as we were welcomed with smiles for a pre-prandial at the bar, including a lovely chat about the English wines they serve.
After a relaxed tipple admiring the glass walled conservatory area and its adjoining ‘beer garden’ we were invited into the double-height main dining area, an atmospheric space with a beautiful fireplace and towering mirrors aimed at more intimate dining and a hint at the quality on offer.
This was the ‘A la carte’ experience (they also offer Bar Snacks Menu from £4 and a Sunday lunch menu) so the wine list is expansive and clearly aimed at the deeper of pocket, but with something for everyone. We opted for an Argentinian red – Julian Reynolds Reserva 2016 – to accompany our meal and it was medium-bodied and delicious, plus some water to keep us hydrated.
Next on to the menu, which is curated around the seasons and produce. Starters ranged from a tomato salad with green strawberries and Leagrams Curd for £8 to Beef Tartare, with heritage tomato, gherkin ketchup and onions for £12.
My partner opted for the aforementioned tomato, while I chose a starter off the bar snacks menu (£7), a delicious fried chicken dish to set off the tastebuds.
Next up the mains and my pre-chosen dish of Cod Tempura (£20), with triple-cooked chips, pea puree and tartare sauce. But this was no ordinary fish and chips; the fish was coated in the super light tempura – a Japanese batter places in a espuma gun (me either, but it’s a thing) – which is fluffed up and foamed over the fish. It made for a very tasty experience and these were some of the best chips I’d come across for a while; crispy yet not overcooked.
My partner is the more adventurous one and opted for the Lamb Rump at £28 with wild garlic and, asparagus and Shepherd’s pie. Based on the fact he hasn’t stopped talking about this Shepherd’s Pie ever since, I’m sensing the dish was a hit. Neither plate was enormous but we were flagging so decided to share a dessert in the name of research.
We opted for a strawberry and white chocolate concoction which was utterly delicious and polished off in seconds.
It was a fantastic experience, though definitely a treat, and we’ll be back next to try out the Sunday lunch menu.
Ye Horns Inn, Horns Lane, Goosnargh, Preston, PR3 2FJ