Review by James S (2nd January 2013)
Another good meal at the Three Fishes just prior to Christmas. It's the original one of Northcote's now four Ribble Valley pubs and for me it's still the best by some distance. Always seems to be busy and yet the staff are well-drilled and friendly. The fish pie was lovely - as was the bottle of Chablis we had with it - and the pumpkin soup from the seasonal menu was very moreish.
Review by Mookie (12th September 2011)
First visit for quite a while and happy to say I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. I'm a big fan of venues that support local suppliers and it's probably fair to say that this place -- and its sister venues, which include Northcote Manor - set the standard to which others aspire. Still seems to be as popular as ever and my only criticism would be that in peak times the staff seem to get stretched to the limit
Review by Pat (17th August 2011)
First visit for hubby's birthday, found 3 fishes on internet, he loved his meal. I had the cheese pie ( being a veggie) very nice but the cheese was a bit too salty for my liking shame, but would go again and would recommend.
Review by Fraser (11th April 2011)
had a great Sunday lunch with my old queen. The potted duck and Cumberland sauce was great although it maybe needed a touch more salt. The other side of the table got all sticky with the ginger sticky chicken wings. Main courses of Roast loin of pork was the ultimate. 2 good slices of pork loin still tender and juicy with crackling that was supremely crispy. the portobello mushroom burger was good but the tomato sauce has the weirdest taste, maybe some work needs doing there. The jelly was more like a wine gum consistency which was a shame and lacked flavour although the whipped custard quenelle was beauty. I could of eaten a whole jar of that.
After saying all that the service was impeccable and the new spring menu will be arriving on Friday the 15th April. we will be booking for Easter. Yes that's correct you will need to book. I love this place, i have a soft spot for it. Keep up the good work.
Review by Nick (25th May 2009)
The 'fishes' is the nearest restaurant to my house. I have been going here for years, as well as the other Nigel Haworth pubs (they are pretty much all the same). The food is good, but by no means the best thereabouts. It does coast on reputation, and there are plenty of places nearby that have surpassed it in the last few years. The log fire is pretty, but don't sit next to it, even in Winter. It roars.
Just thought I should warn people about the bar. The guy before mentioned his surprise that the lemonade came out of a bottle. It is always this way. There is no soft drinks machine, and very little variety in their bottled drinks, which are all tiny and overpriced. There is also a lack of decent cask ale. If you are going for a bar experience, you would be much better at the 'Aspinall arms' which is literally around the corner, and does pretty good food too. Foodwise, I have been through the entire menu. It's all good, but if you want a real food 'experience', try the 'red pump' at bashiell.
Review by Tom Wagstaffe (26th March 2009)
I dined at the Three Fishes a week last Friday and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. I was taking my mother for an early mothers day treat and she was not disappointed!
We arrived for lunch and proceeded to the bar where we were met with professional yet relaxed service, I have one gripe which I think the staff were slightly ashamed of; I ordered a pint of Peroni and a lemonade for mum, the lemonade machine must have been on the fritz because the lemonade actually came out of a 2 litre schweppes bottle, no apology was made and full price was charged which I thought a little queer as the reputation precedes this place. Not to worry, we're not fussy. We declared we were dining and were promptly sat at a table of our choice (down the far end near the fire). There was no background music which I commented on, maybe there is some thought behind this but I did wonder if the experience may be better with some dulcet tones in the background.
With the free magazine offered at the bar and the extensive menus we were not short of literature and my lager was obviously well kept. Mum chose the fish pie and I went for the braised shin of beef. It promptly arrived 15 minutes later even though the place was filling up by this time.
I must say the quality of the food was fantastic, as a former chef myself I share the respect for fresh local produce to the fact you do not have to do a great deal with quality ingredients. The shin was cooked brilliantly, very slowly braised; so much so it had an uncanny likeness to lamb (and this is how it should be). Accompanied a thin red wine gravy and cubed root veg it was a great comfort on a dull day, the horseradish mash was just right for me although there could have been more of it. My mother enjoyed her fish pie commenting on the well selected the fish was and that it was 'bloody red hot'.
All in all it was a fantastic lunch and with two lemonades, two pints of lager and two main meals + tip being less than 35 quid;
I didn't fell it too expensive!
On behalf of mum I will add that the service was perfectly unintrusive. We HATE being interrupted being asked if our meal is 'ok' half a dozen times whilst eating, we were not even disturbed when we were asked the one time how it was. Well done for that!
It was also amusing to do a bit of 'people watching' too! We saw what we thought an 'ominous couple' across the way with a shifty demeanor and an obvious age difference. We had a chuckle at how this businessman was taking his mistress to an 'out-of-the-way' restaurant so as not to be spotted. But we knew exactly what they were up to. Very amusing.
Afterwards we went for a meander around Great Mitton to make more of a day of it and spotted a few quaint shops. A lovely afternoon, many thanks to all the gang at the Three Fishes, you do a good job.
Review by Lou (20th February 2008)
Great, great location, great service and blimey many must agree as it was packed with a waiting list!
Review by Pete Mason (21st August 2007)
Gosh, reading the other reviews I feel a real party pooper. We came for supper during a weeks' break in the region and I wasn't that impressed with the place. Very very busy and touristy but with a very good buzzy atmosphere which the kids loved (as did the millions of other kids there!. Menu a little uninspiring and I settled on fish and chips which was good but left me feeling a little bored. Kids meals good but we have visited better places in the area that deserve a little more airplay than the Three Fishes currently enjoys.
Review by Clare, Manchester (6th July 2007)
My husband and I visited the Three Fishes for our first wedding anniversary back in May. We had travelled all the way from Manchester because we knew the food would be good. As predicted the food was spot on, especially the Formby asparagus - I didn't realise it grew in the sand dunes!! I don't really understand why people have a problem with the no booking policy. We gave the staff our names and it was added to the chalk board. We then chilled out over a glass of pimms/guiness and had a good look through the menu. Even though the place was rammed, we only had to wait 20 minutes. I hate to be rushed so this system is ideal. The only problem I have with the place is the lack of atmosphere once they have stopped serving food. We got the impression that people are not encouraged to stay for drinks once they have finished their meal. Also, why don't they sell Jim Beam or Jack Daniels???? Very odd.
Review by Mrs L In Lancs (26th January 2007)
Travelled for 3/4 hour to get here. Packed to the rafters. Like a posh "brewers fayre". Not for my age group really I don't think. Very good reviews and general "foody" books do place this restaurant on a very high pedestal but I don't really think it is a genuinely outstanding place at all. Other very good "inns" around the area much more worthy of a visit although it is great to have such a tourist attraction in the valley like the fishes so I can't mark it too low. Being a lecturer.... it could do better and coasts a bit on its reputation
Review by Tweenyjake (14th December 2006)
I know everyone I speak to raves about the Three Fishes and I am not about to disrespect it but I really did not find anything "outstanding". We were a group of 8 so could book ahead and that was a smart move since when we arrived on a Sunday afternoon at 1.30 the place was absolutely full. We were on the 3 course Christmas menu for £19.00 and whilst the price was average the value for money was very good.
Service was slow. We had booked and pre-ordered for 2pm and received our starters at 2.30; mains were served approximately 50 minutes later. Whilst the service was slow the waiting staff were faultless, knowledgeable and very charming.
The quality of the food was very good but not outstanding. The pate was very robust (whole chicken livers); the turkey was tasty with firm root vegetables and the roast potato was hard on both the outside and the inside! However the apple sponge pudding was superb and that was outstanding but the other two courses were "very good".
I don't want to put people off because I will certainly be back but to sample the ordinary menu rather than the Christmas one.
This is a totally non smoking establishment but there is the Smoking Hut outside which I found more than acceptable for my post lunch nicotine fix.
I really did want to score the Three Fishes as "outstanding" in all aspects but the little niggles I found brought this down to a "very good" but don't let that put you off because I will certainly be back.
Review by Muddy700 (30th October 2006)
Had our first visit to the three Fishes this weekend& were really blown away. We knew it wasn't possible to book so arrived at midday & joined the crowd of a dozen or so stood outside waiting for the doors to open! What a lovely atmosphere & best of all Real, Local food! I loved the map on the menu indicating where all the meat, veg, cheeses & wine are sourced. A really good range for vegetarians too with no veggie lasagne or pasta bake in sight. The service was excellent - attentive but not over bearing & the food was delicious. The Christmas menu definitely is worth a look too.
Review by Yakman78 (4th October 2006)
What a great concept, Wonderful food attentive service on a busy Sunday, Will be back soon
Review by Magicmagic (8th June 2006)
We have visited the 3 fishes on several occasions and love the fantastic food, location and relaxed atmosphere, where the food is the centre of the attention. It's even better as the ingredients are locally produced and the food you remember from childhood. This is the best restaurant in Lancashire and is also not as expensive as the Heathcotes brassiere outlets. My main tip would be arrive early as you can't book tables and don't drink all the dandelion & burdock!
Review by Filled Up Diner (2nd June 2006)
On visiting one Saturday night, group of 6 of us dined on the recommendation of a friend. We came at obviously a very busy night but waited an acceptable our or so. We had a broad selection from the menu, but the treacle ribs with devilled black peas were quite superb, a couple of dishes were sold out unfortunately but didn't detract from a very enjoyable meal, the only down side was the price of the drinks from the bar which were pricey
Review by Linda (21st October 2005)
I have visited this place twice and both times found the food and service excellent. The setting was breath taking try and get there before the sun sets and have a drink outside before sitting down for your meal. Not to be missed
Review by The Two Of Us!! (22nd August 2005)
The best food served to us for a long time,the food waitresses/waiters were very good also.
Two things let it down,nowhere to sit really when you are having a drink whilst waiting for your table and the bar staff,who while not particularly busy pretended that they were,which meant you had to wait longer than you should to be served,if they sorted these little things out,it would be one of the best places in lancashire,even though it is'nt far off being so now.
We will definitely be back soon though!!
Review by Hobbit (31st May 2005)
Bank Holiday Monday, sun shining, beautiful scenery plus hunger drew us to the Three Fishes. It was our lucky day - not only did they stay open for food all day, but the food was worth the trip out from Manchester. We got so wrapped up in the main menu that we totally missed out on the specials. As with lots of pubs, you order your food at the bar. That's where the similarity ends. Wow! That was only the starters - crumpet with curd cheese and beetroot salad for me & an incredible potato soufflé for him. Next were the generously portioned main courses. OK, I had fish & chips; but not as you've had it before. Crisp, light batter, 'home made' chips. And there were no complaints about the liver & kidneys from the other side of the table. Somehow, there was just enough room for dessert - Lancashire curd tart with lemon cream, and himself went for the selection of Lancashire cheeses, served by the 16 year old 'Cheese Boy', whose knowledge of his product was brilliant - especially for someone of that age. The atmosphere was good, the food excellent, and the price reasonable. We'll be back for more! Who knows, we may even remember to look at the specials!
Review by Anonymous By Request (1st March 2005)
We called in at the Three Fishes a few weeks before Xmas, but just missed the Saturday close of play. Even so, the staff were happy to accommodate us - although restricting us to starters or cold meals, we enjoyed a selection of cured and pickled meats, home-made bread, chutneys and particularly excellent piccalilli. Anyway, it wetted our appetite, and last weekend we returned for another showdown, having noted that on Sunday, unlike Saturday, Nigel elects to stay open all day - wonder if he's a footie fan? If you haven't yet been, what you're missing is a superbly renovated old country pub, with yards upon square yards of neatly lain slate floor tiles disappearing into the perfectly lit distance. Everything smacks of quality and taste, particularly when seated, as the chairs and table are extremely sturdy and comfortable. Let's hope that lasts. The remainder of the interior decor is very much in keeping with Nigel Haworth's approach to dining; the quality - and local derivation - of the ingredients is difficult to ignore, with a collection of snapshots of the pub's suppliers lining the walls and adding somewhat to your enjoyment (and no doubt generating a bit of revenue for the suppliers in question). Nigel - and presumably his new head chef at the 'Fishes, David Edward, - is not one to travel far, and it would appear to take something really special to drag him out of Lancashire or Cumbria. Even then he only skips across the border into God's other county, just far enough to take a deep breath of good air with him, as he scurries back with a few bottles of wine from The Wright Wine Company, Skipton. We called at 3:30 pm on Sunday afternoon, a time when many other pubs seem to suffer from the mid-afternoon lull that can see you drumming your fingers at the bar. However, it was pleasing to be able to say that the staff were attentive and polite, and it was a welcome change to note that they were well dressed in tasteful semi-uniforms, and otherwise neatly turned out. I suspect that we timed our arrival perfectly, for service throughout was prompt - without being hasty - and efficient. Drinks could be served at table though we chose to make the trip to the bar, partly because I retain a real interest in single malt whiskeys, of which the pub carries an impressive array. The menu is moderately extensive; although there are only 7 choices from the starter and mains, there is a separate menu of seasonal alternatives and a selection of sandwiches, salads and 'hot oven bottoms', a term for large teacakes that still reminds me warmly of my grandmother's kitchen and that seems to have died out somewhat in Lancashire over the last ten years. My dining partner elected to forego a starter, but I chose "Andrew Irelands Horseshoe Black Pudding, English Mustard, Onion Relish" to begin. This arrived swiftly in perfectly proportioned tableware - someone has taken a great deal of care over this aspect of the presentation - and accompanied by a proper jar of Colmans English Mustard, which gave me a tiny little thrill. Someone appeared to have made the effort to clean the jar as well, which I found pleasing. I don't think I've had better black pudding - certainly not within the past five years. Rich, clinging, perfectly cooked and terribly unhealthy, and I loved it. The onion relish was maybe a touch too highly spiced for my palate - but what the hey, it still tasted superb. For our mains, we chose "Jim Curwen's Bowland Forest Cottage Pie, Soused Strong Onions, Brown Sauce", and "Heather Reared Bowland Lamb Lancashire Hotpot, Pickled Red Cabbage". The cottage pie arrived with a small (glass) bottle of HP brown sauce, which gave me another little thrill. Both dishes were absolutely superb, wonderful. The Hot pot was the best I've ever had: perfectly cooked potatoes, generous chunks of extremely tender beef - seasoned to sheer perfection. Although on presentation it looked a little on the small side, once we had finished we decided that it was actually faultlessly proportioned. The cottage pie was, again, the best I've ever tasted. I'd forgotten just how well brown sauce matches with potatoes and meat, and yet the dish carried its flavour through the condiment so ably that I never felt that I'd cheated myself in any way. Simple, really, truly delightful. The pickled red cabbage and soused onions that accompanied the dishes again demonstrate the attention to detail so evident at the 'Fishes. These could have been uninspiring, or even just acted as a side dish, but, like the piccalilli at our first visit, they contributed wholly to the meal, and in their own right would be worthy of more than a few words. Maybe Nigel should take a leaf out of a certain Bradford restaurants book and start to sell his pickles to a wider audience... then again, maybe not. We finished with a superb rhubarb crumble - crumble caramelised and sticky round the edges, sweet in the middle, and with a shock of rhubarb as bright and pink, sweet and delicious as any I've ever seen and tasted. Delectable vanilla custard served - as it should be - on the side in a little pot again showed that the accompaniments - whether sweet or savoury - are as central to the ethos of this gastro pub as the main act. All in all, we had a first-rate, top class meal, and despite arriving late always felt welcome and at ease. The price, including £12 worth of drinks and a well-deserved tip, was a very creditable £42. For me, I think that if one word or phrase can sum up the experience of dining at the Three Fishes it has to be honesty; honesty with his suppliers, honesty and simplicity with the menu, honesty with presentation and execution. And I can 'honestly' say that - for the price - the Three Fishes is damn near perfection.
Review by Anonymous By Request (31st January 2005)
What a fantastic gastropub! They have made a great job of renovating an old boozer into a choice dining venue. The place has a modern feel but has retained its original rustic charm. I went for lunch and had an amazing fish pie and top wine by the glass. Thankfully the place is completely non-smoking as well!!