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Restaurant review: The Stables

AA Grill might be moving to Garston

Published on January 14th 2010.


Restaurant review: The Stables

LOOKING for the arts in Garston sounds like an elementary word game; but a more literal search for the town's “Cultural Village” proves trickier.

There wasn't much poetry to be found driving down St Mary's Road on a Thursday evening at 7pm, past the shuttered shops and slow decay, drab being the opposite of bard.

Risotto featured flakes of salmon, haddock and good sea water prawns, served with a splash of reserved fish stock laced with cream – sweet and light as the summer sea breeze.

Big plans were revealed in 2006 to redevelop “the land that time forgot” through a partnership of arts and business, briefly exciting local media. The sadly short-lived North West Enquirer suggested Garston might become “the new Hebden Bridge”.

According to a Liverpool Echo report, Jimmy McGovern, Dean Sullivan and Rita Tushingham (in that order) were all supporters of the Garston Cultural Village Campaign and, to be fair, things have progressed well, culturally, under the guidance of artist and community campaigner Alex Corina.

One suspects the credit crunch may delay more tangible plans, like creating hundreds of local jobs. But as you reach the brow of St Mary's Road, there is a bright spot, literally, in the form of The Stables.

As you enter, a recession is the last thing that springs to mind: aside from a couple of floor lamps that my friend insisted came from Ikea, it has evidently taken a five-star credit rating to bankroll the merging of a former pub, post office and stable yard into one very nice “pub and eatery”.

In fact, one of the few things I don't like about The Stables is the word “eatery” which is a second-rate term food critics invented to avoid writing “restaurant” two dozen times in a single review. And if “eatery”, then why not “drinkery and eatery”? On the plus side, they have avoided the self-reverential “gastropub”.

Strong reds and soft shades of green for the pub, exposed brick (old) and quarry tiles (new) in the dining area where a major feature is made of the stable roof and its original supports. Tables are divided into bays which lend intimacy but not claustrophobia. A passageway links drinkers to diners, off which is a pretty, flower-filled square courtyard.

There was to be a short delay and so, seated by the bar, we waited about 20 minutes in the bit that was the post office – that's post offices for you. The area that was the old pub (on the left as you go in), and is now the new pub, was short on atmosphere chiefly because it was short on bodies. The restaurant was a different story; we thought we'd been waiting for it to open, instead it was full of people evidently having a rather good time.

Service was sometimes what we wanted (friendly, not too friendly; helpful - “you won't need vegetables with that”) and sometimes what we didn't want, like the two glasses of rose instead of white and the two portions of fries instead of one.

The menu looks small enough to preserve quality control, big enough to satisfy most tastes: pub staples like battered haddock and chips, and steak and kidney pudding; a bit of retro with gammon and (free range) eggs; something for the office crowd, like Lancashire cheese and onion on country

bread. “Bar nibbles” include homemade sausage rolls and deep fried cauliflower with curry mayonnaise, which beats crisps and pork scratchings. Sunday is roast dinners with a fish alternative.

Lancashire chicken livers (£5.95) were caramelised which gave them a good crunchy coat and perhaps explains why they were cooked to the far side of pink. Nevertheless, they were tender and mild and went a treat with a salad of frisee crispy bacon and croutons, the only minus being a slice of characterless granary toast. Potted duck (£5.95), classic gastropub fare, was a generous helping of spiced, stripped roasted meat, covered in a portly blanket of fat. Rich, tangy and served with a fig chutney and more toast.

Stables chicken pie (£10.95) was the sort whose puff pastry did not encase the contents, but merely served as a lid. Thin, brittle and tasting of little, it also had a slightly singed bottom (well, how would you like it?). The filling, however, was very good – meaty chunks of chicken, fresh broad beans – a nice seasonal touch – spinach and bacon in a delicate sauce.

Risotto (£7.50) featured flakes of salmon, haddock and good sea water prawns, served with a splash of reserved fish stock laced with cream – sweet and light as the summer sea breeze.

Chocolate pot, with brandy snap and chantilly cream (£4.95), was rich, smooth, velvety, topped with finely chopped nuts, and deeply, deeply moreish. As, indeed, was a selection of homemade ice cream (£3.95) with clean, strong flavours including a fabulous butterscotch.

While the pub may still be quiet, the restaurant is already (it opened just before Christmas) being widely talked about for its quality, value for money menu. Good news for Garston gastronomes.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: Fine dining against the best fine dining, cafés against the best cafés, curry houses against the best...etc...
Following on from this, the scores represent: 1-5: Saw off your leg and eat that; 6-9: Get a DVD; 10-11: Only in an emergency; 12-13: If you’re passing; 14-15 Worth a trip; 16-17 Exceptional; 18-19: Verging on greatness; 20: Perfection

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

emmahJune 26th 2009.

sunday lunch lovely,soup delicious,stuffed after main course,but just about managed the fruit crumble yum yum.

AnonymousJune 26th 2009.

After reading a decent review of the stables in garston, i decided to take my wife and Two year old today for lunch.the waiting staff were polite, and give us the sunday set menu, however we were then told that they had run out of beef and chicken, on the menu, so we were only left with a very limited choice. never the less we ordered both starters and main courses, with the baby's to come out with our starters.An hour went by until our starters were brought out, then the baby's ten minutes after that, with no explanation or apology. during this time we noticed people aroind us were having similar experiences, the gentleman behind us had been waiting an hour for his dessert along with his wife. the family next to us had been waiting half an hour just to get menu's!it was nearly another hour after we finished our starters before the main courses were brought out, by this time the little one was frustrated, but the main issue was the main course itself. the waitress rether sheepishly gave us our plates, only for us to find that the portions were discracefull, my wife only had one tiny slice of turkey, where as i had Two, also we had various vegetables, mainly the roasted parsnips missing off both our plates. before i could point this out to the waiting staff the gentleman with his family next to us had the same problem and was already in the process of complaining to which he was told they had run out, with no apology this was the final straw for me, as i felt ripped off for attempting to charge me full price for a dish which had things missing,as a result i simply returned the dishes and had to pay for the starters and the beby's food as well as the drinks. as we were leaving I also notices another woman complaining of having to wait over an hour for something with again no apology or explanation.In summary, i will never ever go to stables resturant in garston again and likewise advise others against it.

The Man on the Garston OmnibusJune 26th 2009.

Aye, it was the by-pass that turned garston into a ghost-town of shuttered shops and dereliction.

Paint!June 26th 2009.

It is a belter of a restaurant. High quality food like this is heard to find. Child friendly, their own beer, great menu. Why haven't you been yet?

heidiJune 26th 2009.

I have always had agreat evening at Stables.. great food service and ambiance.. pity its a 30 mile round trip otherwise we would be there every week

wavyjellyJune 26th 2009.

Yes, I was gobsmacked myself to find this place in Garston. Let's hope it leads to more re-generation of a once-thriving community. Food looks good as well!!

AmandaJune 26th 2009.

I have just returned to the office after a very enjoyable coffee morning at The Stables. The staff, the service and the surroundings all excellent a very warm, cosy and inviting place. I will certainly be booking to take my family there for a festive treat.

AnonymousJune 26th 2009.

I've also heard lots of positive noises about The Stables and it looks like we'll be making a trip!

alex PlodeJune 26th 2009.

Great news for Garston this and well done to the owners on taking a punt. Hopefully this might spark renewed interest in this forgotten village

AnonymousJune 26th 2009.

Had a great meal at the stables last Sunday.......great place to eat and drink......I will defo be back!!!!!!

AnonymousJune 26th 2009.

"Fries"?

MargaretJune 26th 2009.

This restaurant can match any and I mean any of the city restaurants for quality, ambience and friendliness - go give it a try !!

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