As far as I’m concerned the Sunday roast is the pinnacle of the British dining table.
The French know us as rosbifs and the Queen’s bodyguards are known around the world as ‘Beefeaters’, such is our propensity for a good hunk of roasted beef. But despite our love affair with the noble roast, rarely can you find a decent example these days.
On the one hand, our beloved roast has, been pimped and preened by the TV escoffiers of today into something unrecognisable. Think the way Elizabeth Hurley remodelled the beer-swilling, Aussie cricket geezer Shane Warne into a makeup covered, skinny trouser-wearing metrosexual.
And on the other flank, and possibly worse, there are the hideous all-you-can-eat carvery roasts. Huge slabs of low quality, overcooked joints propped up under the garish glow of heat lamps 12 hours a day as gluttonous diners line up canteen-style to load their plates with 12 types sludgy veggies, six types of packet gravy and an incalculable combination of accompaniments all for about a fiver.
I’m all for a bargain but you’ve got to ask yourself how selling enough food to feed a football team is possible for the price of a pint and a packet of nuts.
You can understand my delight, then, when I chanced upon the Eagle at Barrow this week and rediscovered a decent Sunday roast.
As soon as you walk in you know this place is serious about it’s carnivorous credentials. Right in the middle of the dining room, next to the open kitchen, is a huge glass-fronted, custom-made temperature and humidity controlled cabinet for aging whole cuts of local beef. Great big ribs of beef age for 35 days in the chiller to maximise flavour and tenderness.
After seeing that, it made my choice of local Bowland rump with all the trimmings an easy decision - and it was everything you want from a hearty, unpretentious roast dinner.
Three thick slices of local beef were cooked perfectly - beautifully pink and tender in the middle, with that moreish umami flavour from the roasting on the outside - and covered in a thick coating of rich, red wine gravy.
The trimmings, too, not to be forgotten, were excellent. Two crispy roast potatoes and velvety mash accompany a side of sweet carrot and swede puree and a mixture of green vegetables, all cooked al dente to retain their vibrant colour and bit of bite.
There was a great big Yorkshire pudding, too, but while most diners seemed to get two we only got one each.
That said, there was no shortage of food. The Sunday menu is a set £12.95 for one course or £15.95 for two.
I beefed things up with a starter of smoked haddock risotto with a poached egg, while Mrs H had a Mediterranean -style grilled vegetable dish topped with peppered halloumi cheese and a balsamic glaze. Both were good, but paled in comparison to the excellent roasts.
Other traditional roasts were available too, of course, like roast leg of Pendle lamb, plus more unusual dishes from the Sunday menu, which changes each week. Thai spiced hake fillet with pearl barley broth, for instance, would have certainly been right up my street had I not been on the hunt for something traditional.
The pub boasts an extensive wine list and a great selection of beers, too, including my favourite Hen Harrier brewed up the road by Bowland Brewery. If a Sunday roast is what you’re after, you could do a lot worse than head out east for this great little gem.
Eagle at Barrow
Clitheroe Road, Barrow, Clitheroe BB7 9AQ 01254 825285 www.theeagleatbarrow.co.uk