Food review: Holland Hotel offers top notch pub grub while fine dining is soon to follow

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Holland Hall is one of the more venerable hospitality venues in the North West, dating back as it does to the 17th century, although it was home until well into the 20th.

In the three-plus decades I have known it, the Up Holland premises seem to have undergone as many regenerations as a certain famous Time Lord.

The latest custodian is former Wigan Athletic chairman Bill Kenyon who took it on six years and, particularly since the pandemic was seen off, has enjoyed increased success both in terms of food and events, especially weddings.

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A highly impressive salt and pepper calamariA highly impressive salt and pepper calamari
A highly impressive salt and pepper calamari

His latest quest is to introduce a fine dining menu: something that is as rare as hen’s teeth in the Wigan area and therefore much to be welcomed.

This is set to be phased in over the coming weeks and months and I very much look forward to sampling it; but in the meantime there is still a great deal to be enjoyed from its existing food and drink offer in the shape of The Pub restaurant there.

From the menu you can see that it is setting out its stall as “nothing too fancy.” But sometimes menus can be a bit deceptive, in good ways as well as bad.

And in this eatery’s instance it was indeed the former. For that laminated bill of fare yielded not only some top quality courses, but also offered some excellent bargains in a continuing cost of living crisis.

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The creamed mushroom filo tart went down very wellThe creamed mushroom filo tart went down very well
The creamed mushroom filo tart went down very well

Starters range in price from £7.50 to £9.95 while mains go from £13 for a margerita pizza to £26.50 for sirloin steak, although that was the price outlier: most sit in the mid-teens bracket.

There were some lovely looking desserts too but sadly, by the time we got there, we didn’t have room, so generous were the portions in the first two courses.

But what we did feast on was exceptionally good.

To start, Mrs G opted for a creamed mushroom filo tart, with a poached free range egg, brioche crumb and crispy onions. It looked like a work of art when brought to the table and met with great approval when eaten too. The pastry was beautifully light, the mushroom rich and earthy, the egg done to perfection, and the customer said it was one of the nicest starters she’d had in a long time.

The shin beef, mushroom and ale pie was a star attractionThe shin beef, mushroom and ale pie was a star attraction
The shin beef, mushroom and ale pie was a star attraction

I went for salt and pepper calamari, with gochujang mayonnaise, caramelised lime and garlic aioli. Again presentation was excellent, the dish delivered big time in terms of texture and flavour and the chef didn’t skimp on the portion size either.

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Onto the mains and my other half had harissa yoghurt-marinated chicken in a sourdough flatbred, with cucumber, tomato, red onions, chipotle mayonnaise and fries. The chicken was reported to be nicely moist and flavoursome with plenty of tasty accompaniments. Perhaps if we’d been allowed more of a breather between courses, she would have managed it all, but what was eaten was said to be lovely.

I very much enjoyed a Holland Hall shin beef, mushroom and ale pie with short-crust pastry, seasonal veg, creamy mash and a jug of “proper gravy.”

In fact the pie was to die for: the meat rich, tender and full of flavour, while the pastry was just how my grandma used to make it: and believe me, that’s a compliment.

The generous harissa yoghurt-marinated chicken which defeated Mrs GThe generous harissa yoghurt-marinated chicken which defeated Mrs G
The generous harissa yoghurt-marinated chicken which defeated Mrs G

Other starters included sauteed king prawns, a baked camembert to share, teriyaki pork belly bao buns, chicken liver parfait and tomato and vegan feta with foccacia.

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Of the mains we didn’t sample, there were various burgers and pizas, fish and chips and a nice-sounding tandoori lamb shoulder with Bombay potatoes, while the vegetarian options were a baked mushroom, leak and goat’s chesse puff pastry parcel and a butternut squash, roasted peppers and caramelised onion lasagne.

I should also mention that on Fridays Holland Hall Pub offers a “Chip Shop Tea” while also serving afternoon teas the week round. On Sundays there is “Market Menu with Live Music” and private dining is also available.

When we were there, they were having a Butchers’ Block Week which offered two steak dinners and a bottle of red wine for £38 (that’s very competitive by my reckoning) and two chicken breast dinners and a bottle of wine for £32.

I should also mention the desserts that we failed to accommodate. They included the old favourites of profiteroles, cheese and biscuits, sticky toffee pudding, triple chocolate brownie and a selection of ice creams.

Nibbles and lunchtime light bites are also available.

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Fine dining is next on the menu at Holland HallFine dining is next on the menu at Holland Hall
Fine dining is next on the menu at Holland Hall

I should mention that all of the staff we encountered were friendly, polite, well-informed and attentive.

And following this latest Holland Hall makeover, the setting is smart and attractive while the ambience was found to be nicely mellow.

The hotel boasts 26 rooms in all, both ancient and modern and the renovations keep yielding all kinds of surprises, not least a long walled-up priest hole which now doubles as wine storage!

And I am told that once it is up and running, the fine dining restaurant will focus on classic, quality fare.

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In all then Holland Hall Hotel is a venue which already ticks many boxes and looks set to tick a few more in the year ahead as its reincarnation continues.

Certainly for those readers seeking a good quality but value for moneymenu, then its Pub has got to figure large on your choice list. Highly recommended: I’m sure we’ll be back soon.