The Freemasons, Steven Smith’s elegant Lancashire gastropub, is on a roll. It has held its spot among the top five for several years now.
Food at the Freemasons is all about contrast – experimental meeting traditional. Smith fuses locally-sourced ingredients and his love of the classics with wild, sharp world flavours.
In the hands of a lesser chef it could so easily go wrong but Smith pulls it off with professionalism and gusto, creating a delicious roster of treats.
Menu highlights include foie gras with beer vinegar, blackberry and smoked eel; roast loin and kofta of Nidderdale lamb with BBQ gem lettuce, miso aubergine, mint and yoghurt; as well as butter-poached native lobster tail with crispy claw wontons, wild blueberry, coastal herbs and black pepper sauce.
Desserts include rice pudding baked with vanilla, blackberry, sake and buttermilk ice cream; Amalfi lemon meringue pie; and dark chocolate with banana, black sesame and yuzu.
Don’t be fooled or intimidated by the yuzu butter sauce, seaweed potatoes and the like. The Freemasons is all but a pub, with Smith and his team (including his wife Aga, the award-winning front of house manager) entrenching themselves in the local community.
They host summer barbecues, regular “chippy teas” and more delectable tasting evenings than you can shake a duck fat chip smothered in caviar at.
The focus is not all on the food, as Smith will soon be launching the pub’s first guest rooms – four in total– to feed demand for accommodation in the surrounding area of natural beauty.
Along with the new rooms, Smith is set to boost the size of his already ample kitchen to make way for a “funky” chef’s table. This will not be the familiar, arguably over-used, simple chef’s table many foodies familiar with the concept have become accustomed to.
No, Smith does not follow in the wake of others when it comes to his pub. This is most obvious from the chef’s menu, with which Smith dares to go beyond boundaries others would not.
Speaking about the planned kitchen extension, he says: “I’ll have a little funky table in there and look at sort of having a pub in the kitchen, which is something I don’t think anyone has ever done before, and then we’ll take it from there.
“It is a chef’s table but we don’t want a traditional one, we want it to be original and a first and another reason why people will want to come to the Freemasons. But I can’t give too much away.”
He adds: “I’ve said many times that we want to be the best pub in the world, and we’ll see where that takes us.”
Freemasons at Wiswell / CHEF
“Evolution not revolution”