As signs and signifiers go, it wasn’t an auspicious start to our dining experience at the Lane Ends Inn. Two people who’d arrived shortly before us at this hilly point in Marple Bridge turned and fled saying they didn’t like the look of it.
Then we entered under the large neon “bar and grill” sign to find a completely empty establishment where the only sound was a distant radio which seemed to be tuned into somewhere in the middle east and a loud banging noise that we put down to the chef beating steaks but could just as easily have been someone doing a bit of DIY.
But first impressions can sometimes be misleading. There was no getting away from the fact that it was empty but, as the waitress/barmaid explained, it was match day and they don’t allow football in the bar.
So we settled into the comfy leather sofas to peruse the menu. Mainly grill favourites – steak, chicken etc but also plenty of fish and some Mediterranean dishes which might be more at home in the pub owners’ other venture, the Mediterranean Restaurant at The Romper.
We placed our order and settled ourselves in the dining area of the pub. An oddly different style and feel to the cosy bar area, most easily described as being a bit like your grannies best room.
The pub was refurbished late last year and aims to have the feel of a hunting lodge with guns on the walls, a pair of antlers above the fireplace and even a large wall hanging of big cats.
But the dining area still has the patterned carpets, tablecloths and stripy curtains of a 1980s TV makeover show giving the whole place a strangely disjointed feeling.
The banging stopped, the radio was silenced and music faintly filled the area giving the place a warmer feel as our starters arrived – and some more diners arrived.
I tucked into a giant slab of mozzarella which had been bread crumbed alongside some large and generously garlicky mushrooms while he sampled a plate of smoked salmon (£4.90), simply dressed with lemon juice served on a salad with mascerpone cheese.
The salmon would have benefited from some bread accompaniment but was good and generous while the rustic style of the mozzarella fungi fritter (£4.50) would defeat even the most hungry Italian.
The main courses were similarly large – and served on what must be the world’s largest plates. My prawns with cream and mushrooms ( I had actually ordered prawns with chili and tomato (£10.90), but they looked good so I eat them anyway!) were succulent, well-flavoured and garlicky once more.
The rack of lamb (£10.95) proved to be tender and well-trimmed with a well tuned rosemary gravy. The new potatoes turned out to be of the sliced and baked variety while the generous variety of vegetables – carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, parsnip would have benefited from a shorter cooking time.
The choice of wines by the glass was limited to the singe serving bottle which seem to taking over in pubs at the moment.
Iwas disappointed by a Romanian Pinot Grigio while he fared better with a well kept pint of Bombardier.
The size of the meals really did make having deserts a no go zone and the selection of pre-packed types – ice-cream, cheesecake, apple pie etc didn’t inspire us to blow out.
By the time we had finished our meal, the match was over, customers were filing back into the pub and the fancily atmosphere of the dining room was being put to good use in providing a youngster who had wanted nothing but chicken nuggets with a proper meal (they don’t do nuggets).
Wherever the couple who had turned and fled in front of us ended up, they would have found this place hard to beat in terms of simple home-cooked food done large.
Lane Ends Inn is at 2 Ley Lane, Marple Bridge. 0871 2076677.
More pictures from the meal at the Flickr group.