Steven Smith fuses locally sourced ingredients and a love of the classics with world flavours at this ambitious country pub
Steven Smith says he wants to create the best pub in the world, and he’s well on his way following a major refit of his Ribble Valley venue that has seen the addition of Mr Smith’s – an ambitious tasting menu-only counter restaurant cum development kitchen.
While this new addition sees Smith move slightly towards restaurant territory, the Freemasons remains a proper pub. The service, led by Smith’s wife Aga, is warm and friendly; people can still pop in for a drink, there are summer barbecues and even themed evenings.
Smith likes to reference key pub dishes and has a cooking style that is grounded in the classical and the enviable ingredients that surround the pub, which is located just south of the Forest of Bowland. But he is also a lover of powerful global flavours, so expect a degree of eclecticism in his cooking. It’s an approach that could so easily go wrong in the hands of a lesser chef, but Smith pulls it off (his training in some of the north’s best restaurants helps).
His current menu includes rabbit pie baked in brioche with a sauce of chargrilled asparagus and nori; just-cooked wild salmon with ponzu and elderflower; Goosnargh chicken studded with black garlic; 100-day sirloin of beef aged in its own dripping with duck fat chips. The partial overhaul and extension of the pub has also seen accommodation introduced for the first time, making the Freemasons even more inviting for a weekend getaway.