Low on the losses handed to the pair by meals eaten out in the last two weeks, Magpie and Himself made one last effort, vowing it to be final, should it prove to be as bad as the others.
The Station Inn at Ribblehead, about 1000m from the Ribblehead viaduct on the famous Carlisle-Settle line was the selected recipient of such pressure. Magpie had eaten the most fabulous burger about three weeks previously and was keen to repeat the experience with steak.
Despite its outward appearances, she wasn’t disappointed.
The whitebait wasn’t delivered with lemon; nor was it either crisp or salted, but it had flavour and was hot and came within 15 minutes of ordering. It wasn’t accessorised with a skin-on mayonnaise and salt and pepper was available on the table. For these simple nods to individual taste, Magpie was grateful. The tiny fish were meaty and though fishy in smell they didn’t taste of the inland fish van. They were oily and with substance.
Himself was indulged with a plain (very Yorkshire) salad which accompanied a fabulous homemade chicken liver pate and real melba toast – by which is meant that it had been toasted, then split and toasted again. Butter was handed over on asking; yes, real butter, despite its being made by Irish dairies. The butter in the pate was present, but not cloying; the brandy too, but the product didn’t taste of brandy. The eater just knew it was there.
Main courses too, were no nonsense. Nothing was there that wasn’t advertised on the menu. The onion rings were home battered; the tomato was fresh out of the oven and the steak…Oh yes, the steak was well hung beef, medium rare, erring on the rare. It was singed on the exterior and slightly bloody inside. Its juices mingled with the peppercorn sauce, well seasoned but not salty; well peppered but not hot (except for the peppercorns. It would be silly to have bland peppercorns, and there were plenty of them).
The gammon was salty but the texture was perfectly tight without broaching tough. It hadn’t been filled with water; hadn’t been overcooked. It came topped with two slighly runny fried eggs. Straightforward, modern food. No airs, no graces and definitely no rubbish.
The atmosphere was loud and cheerful; the dining room was busy without being full and the staff were pleasant and discrete. The landlady checked on everyone and everything and didn’t miss a trick.
The Station Inn is blessed. Who needs false airs and graces (and ramekins)? The food talks.