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Strawbury Duck, Country Pub, Reviewed

Karen Regn likes it in the hills but wants more adventure

Published on September 28th 2011.


Strawbury Duck, Country Pub, Reviewed

SEVEN months after re-opening, the Strawbury Duck in Turton is settling into a comfort zone.  But this may just be their downfall.

Our server was right when she said they’ve got their ducks in a row. The food is consistent, well-sourced, and well-cooked.  

From Edgworth, the narrow lane down to the pub is practically a tunnel of overgrown grass and bramble.  This opens onto a bridge across the Wayoh Reservoir, then up a steep hill. Working so hard to get there adds to the country pub experience, or so claims my fiancé from behind the wheel. 

We park in front of Entwistle Rail Station, to which trains run regularly from Manchester Victoria.  It’s perfect for having an afternoon walk around the reservoir (roughly an hour and a half all the way around) followed by a meal.  Also, next to the station is the entrance to the West Pennine Remembrance Park, another scenic stroll.  

The Strawbury Duck is for walkers and cyclists and undoubtedly for dog owners.  Entwistle residents seem to be mad for massive canines, and these slobbering speed bumps lay stretched out on the stone floor, usually right around the front door.  It pays to watch your step on your way to the bar. 

Drive or no drive, the Duck feels like a country pub.  The dining rooms have a homely feel one might call cramped when in the afternoon, rucksacks, prams and the aforementioned mutts fill the empty spaces. 

The ‘cottages’ at the front of the restaurant are the oldest rooms.  With the kitchen adjacent to one of them, opting to dine here will result in a meal punctuated by the noise of foot traffic and hushed dialogues among the service staff.  This is where we sat, but I find the tables in the main area closer to the bar to be much more spacious and airy.  

Strawbury Duck

The songs of lyrical vocalists are piped in, and come evening the Duck makes its attempt to walk the line between country pub and gastropub.  I’m wondering if Adele plus candlelight plus female hormones make some kind of foolproof equation for romantic atmosphere.  It probably only works on women -- my fiancé is yawning beside me. 

He gets a shot in the arm as the starter arrives.  It’s black pudding and a fluffy poached egg stacked atop a toasted muffin and served with mustard sauce.  It sounds delicious, and it is, even for someone like me who is always a bit squeamish about black pudding.  However, the white expanse of plate is a tad off-putting.  The photo I took on my Blackberry does it justice. And that’s not saying much. 

2270773_E2b44ac3  

In the mood for fish and seeing nothing listed on the specials board, I ask them to improvise by turning the fish n’ chips into something a bit more posh, i.e. baked not breaded.  It’s a request I feel justified making because at £12.55, it’s the most expensive item on the regular menu.  The special mains of sirloin steak and pan-roasted grouse are just under £16 and £18, respectively.   

A bottle of house white is £11.95, but I recommend the Iuvena Rioja at £13.95 for a bottle.  Pure, a Pinot Grigio Rose from Chile for £3.75 per 175ml, is also a treat.  

Every two months, the proprietors choose ales from a changing list. Skipton Brewery’s Copper Dragon and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord are among those on draught at present.  

My baked haddock arrives quicker than I expected and is spot-on, full of flavour, hearty.  And my fiancé is pleased by his corn-fed Goosnargh chicken with peppercorn sauce, served on a bed of spinach and accompanied by new potatoes, this is another hearty dish which is gloriously rustic.  The mains fill us up and we both think the portions are adequate.  

For dessert, we choose a set cream with berry compote and shortbread.  The shortbread is made in-house, as are all the desserts.  Our waitress admits they stumbled when their provider fell through and they took on the baking themselves.  They’ve got the hang of it now, she says.  The compote’s sugary simplicity and the cream’s belly busting richness provide a good end to the meal.  And the shortbread is lovely.  

Our server was right when she said they’ve got their ducks in a row.  The food is consistent, well-sourced, and well-cooked.  

My only gripe is that despite the Duck’s gastropub intentions, the menu lacks adventurousness.  Surely there must be more creative ways to serve a sirloin steak than with tomatoes, mushrooms, and chips? 

The specials could evolve into something more, I don’t know, special, and glean innovation from the gastropub side, rather than routine from its country pub counterpart.  

Overall though the meal was quacking good.  And I’m nearly out of duck puns so I’ll leave it there. 

You can follow Karen Regn on @karenregn

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. £1000 to the reader who can prove otherwise, and dismissal for the staff member who wrote a review scored out of twenty on a freebie from the restaurant.

Strawbury Duck
Overshores Road, Turton, Bolton, BL7 OLU

Rating: 15/20
Food: 7/10
Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: 4/5

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

RabSeptember 29th 2011.

I ate at the Strawberry Duck earlier this year. I live in Oldham and travelled on the train with 3 kids and the wife. Walked around and had a lovley lunch then got on the train back. It is one of the best good hearted lunches we have had - all of us loved it.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2011.

Great to see this pub back up to scratch, my family used to own it in the late 80s and for the majority of the 90s and after that, the service went downhill and the place was a mess. (this isn't a biased view, I once went in with my husband who the staff refused to serve because the only ID he had with him was his liquor licence!!). Happy to see someone is clearly putting a lot of effort and love into restoring the pub to it's former glory! Keep up the good work! xx

user9976September 30th 2011.

Worth mentioning that the Strawberry Duck is also dog friendly. I often go with my dogs and enjoy a walk around the reservoirs and the food and service is always excellent.

Dave MartinSeptember 30th 2011.

Its fun taking the train up there but make sure you tell the conductor where you're going or it might not stop (its a request-only stop)!

Judy TurnerOctober 4th 2011.

What picture you took of the black pudding on your Blackberry?

AnonymousJune 7th 2012.

"adventurousness"....??? Holy cr@p....

AnonymousAugust 7th 2012.

What a shame ...

The food was good when it first re-opend a couple of years back. Lunch today was very mediocre, however the coffee was dreadful. A cup of hot water with froth on the top not a taste or aroma of coffee to be detected. The chicken and bacon open sandwich was a small piece of bread with a thin spread of mayo on it, topped with lettuce, a 2" piece of chicken and half a rasher of streaky bacon. Salmon and cream cheese open sandwich didn't have any cream cheese on it. So disappointing. No wonder so many food establishments close if people put up with these standards. The pub is in a lovely setting, but this is not of their making and is certainly not an excuse for exploiting the views by serving poor quality food. Very poor value for money. The girls on the bar were, however, friendly and helpful - if not somewhat embarrassed by having to defend the cup of hot water masquerading as coffee.

AnonymousAugust 7th 2012.

What a shame ...

The food was good when it first re-opend a couple of years back. Lunch today was very mediocre, however the coffee was dreadful. A cup of hot water with froth on the top not a taste or aroma of coffee to be detected. The chicken and bacon open sandwich was a small piece of bread with a thin spread of mayo on it, topped with lettuce, a 2" piece of chicken and half a rasher of streaky bacon. Salmon and cream cheese open sandwich didn't have any cream cheese on it. So disappointing. No wonder so many food establishments close if people put up with these standards. The pub is in a lovely setting, but this is not of their making and is certainly not an excuse for exploiting the views by serving poor quality food. Very poor value for money. The girls on the bar were, however, friendly and helpful - if not somewhat embarrassed by having to defend the cup of hot water masquerading as coffee.

JennybFebruary 3rd 2013.

My own mistake for giving it a second chance, bad enough the first time, but being fair I returned, truly, truly awful, only giving it one star as the quant setting and surroundings warrant that, but apart from that its a washout, countless staff more interested in texting and talking than serving the customers and seeing to their needs or requests. Then dishing up to the table with 'carefully selected local produce' well if it is whoever is in the kitchen must have a real grudge with the local area to ruin the food that spectacuarly!!! Rubber potatoes, burnt fatty meats and cold vegetables, no cutlery condiments, had to ask for any little thing that should have been obvious.
Its a dog friendly pub, and I have no problem with that, it even goes so far as to include 'dog treats' on the main menu I think there must have been a mix up with my order and Rex got my food!!!

Paul BellinghamSeptember 30th 2013.

Sunday lunch a dissapointment beef arrived rare quickly exchanged these things happen however second attempt uneadable tough and stringey requested a Angus bugger only because i believed it would be quick to serve up as my partner had now long finished her meal 25 mins later I recd nicely presented platter with chargrilled tasteless burger I do question wether the word Angus burger is used wide spread to substantiate price charged.Also on arrival and between meal bar wait too long with barmaid running off to assist meals served leaving barman with a busy counter obviously stretched staff .On a positive food complaint handled well but overal experience 2 out of 5 could do a lot better if thought through !

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