The Parkers Arms: restaurant review | Jay Rayner

The early signs were not good, but then the food started to arrive and Jay soon realised there was nothing to fear

Newton-in-Bowland, near Clitheroe, Lancashire (01200 446 236). Meal for two, including drinks and service: £70

Egon Ronay announced late in life that the gastropub was now to Britain what the bistro had long been to France: a place of reliable cooking to be found across the country. The argument may be seriously flawed given the French bistro is now about as reliable as a 1972 Austin Princess, but it’s certainly true that gastropub food has codified. Just as the French bistro is likely to have a menu of frisée and lardon salad, steak frites and apple tart, so the British gastropub will offer a terrine, risotto and something involving beetroot and goat’s cheese to start; a sea bass dish, pork belly and rib eye for mains; and a chocolate fondant, crème brûlée and lemon tart to finish.

About this menu I have very little to say. Not a word. Zero. There is nothing wrong with it. They are sturdy, trustworthy dishes, the Ronseal of restaurant food. Either they are executed well or they are buggered up. Either way it’s just a bit of a shrug. Which is fine. The health of a food culture will always be located in its ordinary, not in its exceptional.

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