Where To Eat Out In Lytham (April 2002)
This is an archived article from 2002.
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Lytham has a long history of hospitality. Its first pub, The Jolly Sailor, opened its doors back in 1810 and although the hostelry is long gone you can still go there and grab a bite during the day. Located on Queen Street a block back from the green, it doesn't have any more jolly sailors but Cafe Aroma does have an extensive meal and snack menu. There's a walled garden for al fresco summer dining. A stone's throw away, literally, stands another historic location -- The Taps.. The pub was originally the tap room for the Clifton Arms Hotel, and with its brick walls and wooden floors it has a real beerhall feel to it. Landlord Ian Rigg has a large selection of cask ales on offer and CAMRA recently selected The Taps as the best pub in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre for the second time. Traditional pub food is served every day except Sundays with the home-made soups always popular.
Of course, Lytham has lots more quality dining options including two of the best Italians in the area. L'Aragosta (pictured above) is right in the thick of the action in Lytham Square and has been serving up traditional Italian food since 1990. Along with all the expected pizza and pasta favourites, there's a strong emphasis on seafood. Gambere Porto-Venere (king prawns, garlic, tarragon, tomato and cream served with rice, £14) is always popular, Cozze Al Pineau (mussels cooked in garlic, cream and tomato, £4.50) is a great starter, and - unusually -- there are lots of seafood pasta choices. Owner Tony, a Neapolitan by birth, emphasizes that this is Italian food cooked the traditional way and even has one of his mother's dishes on the menu - Penne Al Forno Napoletana (baked pasta with mozzarella, meatballs and salami, £6.25).
Portofino, on Henry Street, is now in its 10th year. It's on two levels (with two separate kitchens) -- an Italian bistro on the ground floor and fine dining upstairs. The entrance has just been remodelled, adding a waterfall, and Portofino continues to draw the crowds. In the bistro section there's a two-course Super Saver menu on offer for £7.95 (dinner and all-day Sunday) or £5.95 at lunchtimes. Portofino recently bought the old bookshop in Lytham and will open it in July as Zest -- an Italian deli offering snacks and sandwiches by day, transforming into a wine bar by night serving Italian-style tapas. Lytham used to have a third Italian - Arcobaleno on Park Street - but no longer. It's been bought by St. Annes' Moghul and will open for business in May as Red Fort, a welcome addition to a Lytham dining scene that strangely lacked an Indian restaurant. Also, for pizza lovers, Lytham boasts the area's only Pizza Express housed in an old bank building right across the road from L'Aragosta.
Another option for modern food in modern surroundings is the brand-new Chicory. Chicory opened over the Easter weekend after the redevelopment of the ill-fated Q Brasserie on Henry Street in record time. Heavy on the terracotta tones, Chicory promises modern contemporary cuisine. They make their own bread and chutneys in-house and can also boast an extensive 60-bin wine list.
For something a little different, Lytham has Cafe Neon and the wild-west Fort San Antone. Café Neon is one of only two purely Greek restaurants in the Fylde. As well as all the usual Greek dishes, it has the occasional party nights complete with belly dancer. For a totally different experience, Fort San Antone -- at Great Birchwood Country Park between Lytham and Warton - comes complete with a real fort, the Pioneer Motel, a golf driving range, and is one of Europe's biggest country and western venues. But you don't have to be a cowboy to visit - Sunday's all-day carvery is great value at £4.95.
The Lytham scene is always changing. On the green, The Queens Hotel (can you think of a place with a better beer garden?) jettisoned its short-lived incarnation as the Rat and Parrot and is now planning to ramp up its food service And the latest pub to get the treatment is The Talbot which has just brought in a new management team with a wealth of experience in pub catering. In the wake of a recently completed refurb, the plan is to shed the pub's underage image and build up a reputation for more upmarket pub grub.
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