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Barton Arms Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield doesn't have a good time

Written by . Published on September 24th 2013.

Barton Arms Reviewed

SOMEBODY piped up at an event.

"If you want a really good pub with really good food try the Barton Arms in Worsley."

Another son had the 'ultimate' burger (£9.50). Ultimate? It really was the last thing you'd want to eat. 

I hadn't heard of this place and we hadn't been out Worsley way for a while with Confidential. It seemed like a good idea.

In any case I love the green of Worsley Green and the orange of the Bridgewater Canal. I love the half-timbered Victoriana of the buildings, and I yearn to delve in the forty miles of tunnels dug under Worsley woods.

I also like a good pub.

In my mind's eye I was thinking the Barton Arms would be a sturdy Edwardian pub with some charming original features and a good chef cooking strong regional British food. A freehouse too no doubt with excellent ales and whiskies. 

Instead the Barton Arms looks like it was built a week last Wednesday. It has that 21st century half-timbering that looks wrong because it's spaced out too far and looks cheap.  

The Barton Arms - built a week last WednesdayThe Barton Arms - built a week last Wednesday

Having said that, the interior isn't too offensive. Cutsy books, artfully split into rooms and so on. Ale ok too.

But as guests we should have turned tail and fled just as we picked up the menus. The table next to ours started a proper row about "overcooking".

They knew what they were talking about too. The burgers summed it up.

One son had the pulled pork burger (£7.75) apparently made from 'coarse-ground, lightly seasoned beef from British and Irish farms' and it was truly horrible; solid and heavy like a dumbbell weight. The pulled pork was scraggy and dry like a witch's wig in a production of Macbeth.

Another son had the 'ultimate' burger (£9.50). Ultimate? It really was the last thing you'd want to eat - just look at the meat in the picture at the top of this page. 

The problem here is that the pub - or rather the parent company Ember Inns - doesn't trust their suppliers to provide healthy burgers so they torch them to within an inch of their afterlives to make sure they're disease free. Pink flesh, it was explained by the staff, is banned. 

This could be avoided if Ember Inns made their burgers on site with meat from a trusted butcher, but they clearly can't be arsed. They have the fear obviously. They fear their chefs won't be up to the job of keeping the bugs away.  

Dry, greasy or tasteless - take your pickDry, greasy or tasteless - take your pick

The 'ultimate' mixed grill at £11.65 was almost as bad, if not quite the last thing you'd ever want to eat. The rump steak was shoe leather, the gammon tasted of bad offal, the chips had been torched dry like the burgers, the onion rings were lumps of dried fat and the grilled tomato looked deeply offended by the whole thing. The mushroom was ok. 

A starter of almond crumbed Somerset brie (£4.25) was a slab of flesh-strippingly hot goo and a dessert of lemon syllabub sundae (£4.25) was simply a sweet blast of sweetness with occasional kicks of lemon on freezer cabinet meringue.  


Only one dish did anything at all. The devilled whitebait (£4.45) was alright, perky in their spicy cases. It was a surprise to see them on the menu at all. 

Otherwise the food was completely mistimed, overcooked, tasteless - it was the 'ultimate' waste of space. Perhaps the main chef was on holiday or boating on the canal but the real problem was all the bought-in and unloved food. The real problem was Ember Inns.

If this had been a Wetherspoons you couldn't really complain but Ember Inns plaster their websites with words such as 'authentic'. They encourage us to come along for 'expertly cooked meat, seafood and vegetarian meals that make the most of the season’s produce'. They think they're good.

That's all bollocks.

This is a pub group trying to keep its costs so low that the food - on our visit - was inedible. They could spend more and keep the prices as democratically low if they handed control over to the kitchen and let them free. And maybe spent less on the design of fibbing websites.

The person who recommended this to me - you know who you are.

On a brighter note, we enjoyed a lovely walk along the canal after lunch. It was worth a trip to Worsley after all.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter@JonathSchofield or connect via Google+


Barton Arms, 2 Stablefold, Worsley M28 2ED. 0161 728 6157

Rating: 8/20

Food: 2/10 (Ultimate burger 1, classic burger 1, mixed grill 3, brie 3, whitebait 4, syllabub 3)
Service: 3/5 
Ambience: 3/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away


Unusually ok whitebaitUnusually ok whitebait


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45 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

Of course it was going to be shite, its Ember Inns after-all. They cater for the Pino Grigio supping, all fur coat and no knickers clientlele that inhabit this pretentious hovel as if its some sort of high end society club. Try Ambiente or Tung Fong next time - or even better Grenache in Walkden & Pacifica in Eccles.

7 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldSeptember 24th 2013.

But the thing is that it doesn't need to be so bad. A little pride from the company and it'd be fine.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

I too vote for Ambiente. Best tapas in the area!

Jenny CollinsSeptember 24th 2013.

Ambiente is indeed head and shoulders above anything that city centre Manchester can offer.

Paul CarterSeptember 24th 2013.

Apart from Rogan at the French, oh and Mr Cooper's House and Garden, oh and Australasia, oh and Manchester House etc etc etc

Fran SpeightSeptember 24th 2013.

I wasn't impressed with Ambiente and found it overpriced. For proper real authentic tapas where Spanish people eat go to El Rincon in the city centre. Tung Fong does not do good friendly service.... roll on Albert's Worsley!

Jenny CollinsSeptember 24th 2013.

I have been eating in El Rincon for years, the straw that broke the camel's back:after it being hit (when It truly was excellent) and miss was a meal 3 weeks ago when I sent back 50% of the dishes, half an hour with no drinks served (the food was on the table and the wine had been ordered prior to the food) and then when I asked for bread the second time the waiter took a half used basket of the recently vacated table next to us and gave us that!

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

El Rincon is over. Finished. Done. Average food, average service, deeply average surroundings, stinking toilets.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

"pulled pork burger (£7.75) apparently made from 'coarse-ground, lightly seasoned beef from British and Irish farms" - Christ thats a first, pulled Pork made from lightly seasoned Beef....!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldSeptember 24th 2013.

Very good. The pulled pork was on the burger of course. Although your suggestion might have tasted better.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

For a relatively affluent suburb, Worsley is very poorly served by restaurants. Milan is poor, The Barton Arms is to be avoided and even the Tung Fong is a little tired. Smiths in Eccles is about the best in the area, looking forward to Alberts opening in Swinton soon.

JaySeptember 24th 2013.

Not that I would want to give this place extra points but don't the individual scores add up to 9/20?

paulSeptember 24th 2013.

Can you book ?

EvoSeptember 24th 2013.

Whoever said to you ''If you want a really good pub with really good food try the Barton Arms in Worsley'' should be held accountable, named and shamed even. Unbelievable. Not one of my fellow Salfordians has ever 'recommended' eating in the Barton Arms. It's not a bad little place for a couple of beers but you don't go there for good food. It's hard enough for Salford to gain any culinary recognition without numpties like this advising people to make the effort to come over just to try an Ember Inn.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

Forget Worsley - take a walk further down the canal to Monton, we've got Cromptons at The Waterside, lovely food & drink and great staff - even the freshly refurbished Blue Bell on Monton Green now serves good food or a wander into Monton itself and visit Malt Dog - local/regional ales and a small bites menu (but still good grub) :)

Daniel FosterSeptember 24th 2013.

Milan is hit and miss, the service is usually terrible but the food sometimes hits the spot. Smiths is worth a trip. Barton Arms is good for a decent pint but the food is exactly as reviewed. Anonymous is right, Worsley is indeed poorly served.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

I recommend 'the rake' in littleborough the dishes are larger than the usual tapas restaurant and a little more expensive but i asure you, the flavours are lush and you ll definately return for more. YUM YUM

AnonSeptember 24th 2013.

Its Ember Inns. What did you excpect? We might have had a burger revolution recently but large groups are always going to cater for exactly what they are. The folk who go arent looking to be presented with a taste sensation, theyre looking for quick pub grub & theyre aware theyre entering a chain. Ambiente does fantastic food. And Im yet to try Greneche despite living in the area, but heard fantastic things. But you already know this. Quite why you decided to critique an Ember Inns pub, I dont know. Why not try McDonalds next?

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

Someone forgot to advertise on ManCon. Seriously though people of Worsley have you tried Cibo in Didders. To die for darling.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

How do suggest we get from Worsley to 'Didders' then? BTW is it going to be full of southern media luvvies when we visit? If so - no thanks.

AnonSeptember 24th 2013.

Emergency 'Dummies Guide to Sarcasm' required here if anyone has one......

Helen LordSeptember 24th 2013.

That's what happens when you eat at Ember Inns!! Independent is always better but companies like these are taking over the market and forcing independents out of business, whilst handing us bog-standard averageness on a plate. I wouldn't give them the time of day, never mind my money!!

Anna FraserSeptember 24th 2013.

The Barton Arms is cooking by numbers - everything frozen or prepared somewhere else. Complaining to Ember Inns is a waste of time as they are part of the Mitchell and Butler Empire. Worsley deserves better !

John ThompsonSeptember 24th 2013.

don't go to pub chains as the quality of food most times is so bad and over priced, and all it takes is a bit of pride in your job

Leanne CornesSeptember 24th 2013.

Had lunch on Sunday. It was very good, really enjoyed it. Also a very reasonable price.

Graeme WrightSeptember 24th 2013.

Only been to Barton Arms once...service was slow and grumpy. On tasting the food I believe the waiting staff had been forced to eat the food before they came on duty, hence the slowness and grumpiness. Worley really is a gastro desert.

John EdwardsSeptember 24th 2013.

Sounds truly dire and it reminds me of another MASSIVE missed opportunity... The Didsbury in... yes that's right Didsbury. Great location right next to Fletcher Moss - nice building - huge beer garden - utterly wank food. Why? Surely a nice plate of sausage and mash, pie etc is so bloody easy but it is beyond these greedy sods. For shame!

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

The place stinks of processed food and the carpets are sticky. The staff have a total lack of knowledge of what they should be serving (not their fault) and the kitchen staff have been turned into robots. It's no wonder that cooking,eating and drinking at home has become so popular!

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

They probably think presenting the chips in one of those silly stainless steel buckets is sufficient to make the food appear "gourmet".

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2013.

Whats wrong with frozen, processed food? Grill on the Alley & Restaurant Bar & Grill seem to be able to serve it up & do quite nicely!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Bill LeighSeptember 25th 2013.

This is exactly the sort of comment which irritates - a casual clever cloggs swipe, unsupported by any evidence, at two excellent Manchester restaurants. I've been to both dozens of times. The food is quality at both. The steak of the month at G on the A is a good as you'll find most anywhere (though the Belted Galloway at Manchester House is outstanding).

GordoOctober 18th 2013.

I'm with you Bill, had a flawless T-bone at G on NY Street on Monday, did a walk in and nearly didn't make a table, it was very busy. Anon sounds like a disgruntled employee or competitor. Silly comment.

IanOctober 18th 2013.

Went to Grill on NY Street last week - nice foie gras with pineapple chutney, which could have perhaps came with some toasted bread. Then an excellent rib eye steak and bearnaise sauce. And it's 40% off if you book online. Excellent value.

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2013.

Why do we have to read about these ghastly places in Salford? As someone who lives in Chorlton, I only want to read about independent places located in Chorlton and the Northern Quarter

1 Response: Reply To This...
JamesSeptember 25th 2013.


Giles HineSeptember 25th 2013.

The food is never going to set the world alight. But I have always found staff at the Barton Arms very friendly and have been many many times.

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2013.

We went in the Barton Arms for Saturday lunch a few weeks ago and arrived at dead-on Noon. Waitress took our order at the table quickly and we then proceeded to wait half an hour for the starter whilst people who arrived after us had finished their starter and already got their main. When I asked waitress how long could it take to heat up a piece of brie I was told that "all our food is freshly cooked".Our complaint resulted in profuse apologies from the very nice waitress and a free dessert or drink. However, I won't go back to eat there as this experience reminded me why I had stopped going there for Sunday lunch with my 89 year old Dad who lives in Worsley - too slow and too pricey for below-average food. Anyway Dad prefers Sainsbury's cafe for a roast dinner and I have to say that the surroundings may not be as glam but the roast is a darn sight cheaper and more tasty!

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2013.

I have been to the Barton Arms in Worsley on many occasions and have never had a problem! The staff are always friendly, despite sometimes being rushed off their feet,, the atmosphere great and I have never had a bad meal.

AnonymousSeptember 25th 2013.

Brunning and price (same as wharf in castlefield) are currently renovating worlsey old hall and will bring a lot of quality to the area, great beers and fabulous food, think its due to open in time for Christmas

AnonymousSeptember 26th 2013.

Agree Monton is the new Worsley...try the delis there for a quick, unassuming bite

AnonymousSeptember 27th 2013.

I grew up in Worsley, left there in 2003 to live in City Centre and now live in Altrincham. I'm amazed at the lack of quality restaurants in and around the village in comparison to amount of disposable income in the village. Worsley is crying out for a decent British eateries, be it in Gastro-Pub and restuarant guise. Alberts Worsley may provide welcome respite but its certainly not in Worsley.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 27th 2013.

I really think Brunning and price will achieve this with worlsey old hall

NorthernGeezerSeptember 27th 2013.

Its a chain, course its shyte!!!!

AnonymousOctober 9th 2013.

I know who the chef is in the Barton Arms and that almostly certainly puts me off ever eating in there. He confirmed that they pretty much microwave and cook thes pre made meals. Disgusting. The John Gilbert is just as bad too. Cromptons at the Waterside in Monton is by far the best 'pub' for food in the area. Annoying how poor Worsley is serviced, only Ambiente gets my money on a regular basis.

AnonymousNovember 3rd 2013.

Worsley is in Salford FFS- what do you expect?!

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