It’s usually a good sign if, when you ring to book a table, they are struggling to fit you in.
Maybe they always say that on the phone at the Hind’s Head in Charnock Richard to give the impression of activity, but it certainly was busy when we got there and those words did indeed augur well.
The place had come highly recommended to the missus and me by a friend and I think we can safely say that it lived up to expectations.
Once an old fashioned pub whose exterior isn’t much altered, it is these days inside a very chic bar-restaurant, intimately lit with a smart wooden floor and tastefully decorated.
It also seems to be producing meals every waking hour.
Opening the menu, the first page informed us that it is open Friday to Sunday from 9am to 11am for breakfasts.
It also has a nice-looking lunchtime menu which is served from noon to 3pm Monday to Saturday.
Oh, and they also have special Sunday roasts.
But we had turned up for an evening meal and the menu for that, to my mind, had about the right number and range of dishes to cater for all but the fussiest of tastes, without being overwhelming.
My other half opted for a melon starter which was enhanced with a fruit compote.
The report came back that it did what it said on the tin and the fruit was both ripe and refreshing.
The eatery apparently makes a speciality of fishcakes. They always appear on its evening menu but their ingredients vary from day to day.
I was served cod and pancetta ones with a little salad and a sweet chilli sauce. And very nice they were too.
The cakes’ exteriors were crispy and the inside moreishly soft and tasty.
I would recommend the potent accompaniment be used only sparingly, though, because it would otherwise overpower the main component of the dish.
My main course was a pork loin stuffed with black pudding, a whole grain mustard mash with a rich apple cider sauce and seasonal vegetables.
The pork was delightfully moist and full of flavour, augmented by the boudin and the particularly lush sauce was possibly the star attraction of the meal. The mash proved a bit remorseless by the last few mouthfuls but didn’t really detract from a fine plate of food which proved great value for money.
My wife chose pan-fried salmon with a chive-infused mash with a white wine and tarragon sauce garnished with seasonal veg.
She reported that the fish was perfectly cooked and flavoursome (a nibble of my own confirmed this; not that I doubted her!) and its sauce was deep and delicious.
The mash complemented it well, just as the greens and carrots did to both dishes.
We just had room for puddings and were glad we found the space.
My wife opted for a lemon roulade and I heard no complaints about it or its many embelishments.
I went for the most sumptuous yet light sticky toffee pudding I have enjoyed in a long time.
A lovely finish to the meal and both came in at less than a fiver.
The restaurant has a modest but good wine list and it keeps its ales well too from what I can see.
My pint of Wainwright beforehand went down very smoothly, thank you very much, and a rich and robust glass of Merlot couldn’t be faulted either.
I should also mention a coffee menu of which we chose not to partake.
And there was also a specials menu available but again was, in our case, surplus to requirements.
The staff were very attentive, despite having two large parties to contend with when we first came in, without being over fussy and we were not kept waiting a long time for our courses to arrive.
And if you want child-friendly, you have come to the right place. The Hind’s Head has quite a few reasonably priced junior options, including on the Sunday roast, and also has a play area at the rear.
In all then a very satisfying dining experience and one we would happily seek out again.
Hind’s Head fishcakes - £6.95
Melon and compote - £4.95
Pan-fried salmon - £12.95
Pork loin - £13.95
Lemon roulade - £4.95
Sticky toffee pudding - £4.95