“ Address: Wheatley Lane Road / Fence / Burnley / Lancashire / BB12 9QG / England „
If you're searching for some top quality nosh in Burnley then you'll be pushed to find a decent restaurant that doesn't specialize in Asian food. Whilst I have to confess to enjoying a good curry, it's refreshing and encouraging to know that there are restaurants in the vicinity that offer a modern twist on traditional English dishes. The Sparrowhawk in Fence is one of these establishments and provides tasty and wholesome food in a relaxed and atmospheric setting.
Not to be confused with the Sparrowhawk hotel in the centre of Burnley, The Sparrowhawk in Fence is located on the edge of Pendle Forest and within easy reach of the M65. A taxi from Burnley will set you back around £8, but there's plenty of parking available if you plan on driving. The building is quaint, boasting a Tudor style timber beamed exterior. Inside, it has the homely and comfortable feel of a country pub and whilst you can visit simply to drink, it attracts a large number of diners. Booking is definitely advised, particularly on weekends.
I was treated to my first visit to The Sparrowhawk for my birthday by friends. I had heard many complimentary things about the restaurant but was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn't as stuffy and pretentious as I had imagined. The pub offers a varied selection of drinks and whilst my best friend and I settled into a very quaffable bottle of house white, her husband sampled some of the real ales on offer. Service was quick, polite and again added to the relaxed feel of the place.
The menu certainly appealed to me offering a range of traditional British staple dishes, many of which incorporated a modern flare. For starters, I shared a selection of cold meats with Mr B, which came with olives, freshly made bread and various other accompaniments. The dish appealed to me due to the inclusion of wild boar but I have to confess I am not one for sharing my food. Fortunately, the heavy wooden chopping board on which the food was presented boasted a more than adequate portion and despite Mr B's hearty Lancashire appetite, we both had a fair share of the various cooked meats on offer. The wild boar was very tasty indeed and the rest of the meats were cooked to perfection. My best friend's smoked haddock looked and smelt delicious and she devoured the whole dish, including the black pudding which put me off sampling it myself.
My main course was lamb shoulder roast root vegetables and rosemary jus which came served with a huge dollop of creamy mashed potato. We were also served with various accompanying vegetables and everyone's meals were hearty, tasty and cooked to perfection. Mr B's 5 week matured rib eye steak was mouthwateringly tender whilst Mrs B enjoyed the traditional Pendle lamb hotpot which is a favourite of hers from the menu. All the portions were of generous proportions and there was a rustic country theme to all the dishes on offer which use locally sourced ingredients to ensure freshness.
Of course, no birthday meal would be complete without a dessert and, having devoured a grilled banana and ice cream as well as helping Mrs B polish off her cheeseboard, I was well and truly stuffed. As I sneaked off for a nicotine fix (aided by the very helpful waiter who sourced a lighter for me since I had left mine at home), I decided I would pay the bill to thank my friends for what had been a wonderful night out. Now I wasn't expecting this meal to come cheap but I have to confess I perhaps hadn't paid sufficient attention when scouring the menu previously as I was a little surprised when our meal for 3 came to £100. That said, it isn't an extortionate price to pay for three 3 course meals, a bottle of wine and a few pints of ale but considering my usual restaurant of choice in Burnley sets me back £10 per head including drinks, I was fortunate to have enough money at hand to settle the bill.
Whilst the prices of The Sparrowhawk mean it isn't the sort of restaurant I can afford to visit on a regular basis, the delicious food, excellent service and comfortable surroundings definitely make it top of the list for a treat. With its hearty range of traditional English dishes, it makes a refreshing change from the many curry houses in Burnley and provides the perfect comfort food for those who appreciate the rustic English menu.
Traditional English fare in a casual environment.