Way back when the Highwayman opened in 2007, co-founder and Michelin starred chef Nigel Haworth pioneered a new style of cooking at the second of his Ribble Valley Inns. Drawing on producers from Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire, for whom farming and artisan craftsmanship are a way of life, he placed the finest regional and seasonal food at the heart of his country pub. Seven years on, the Highwayman continues to thrive following a £200k refurbishment, not to mention the appointment of a remarkable new chef.
Jason ‘Bruno’ Birkbeck has crafted a completely new menu in under six weeks - and he comes to the Highwayman with a heavyweight CV. The Cumbrian chef was behind Hipping Hall’s three AA Rosettes just up the road in Kirkby Lonsdale. And he made a splash at the Michelin-starred Samling in Windermere and The Torridon in the Scottish Highlands as well. There was also an appearance on TV’s Great British Menu too. But for all his ambition and awards, Bruno grew up in Kendal and, after starting his career with Nigel Haworth at Northcote, he’s steeped in the Ribble Valley Inn’s local, seasonal ethos.
Elegantly rustic dishes like braised shoulder of Kitriddings lamb with an oatcake crust, crushed peas and potato dressing and the signature “Pig’s Head” with crispy black pudding, mash, cabbage and pickled apples, a twist one of Bruno’s Nan’s dishes, take pride of place on the menu. But you’ll still find Highwayman favourites, including battered haddock with chips and tasty platters – and a new take on our popular kids menu.
The décor offers plenty of talking points too. Designed by award-winning agency, Lister Carter of Chester, wagon wheels draped with filament bulbs nod to the pub’s name, while the bar has been pared back to create a feeling of space. With dry stone walls and views of the hills, the terrace is the perfect place for a meal al fresco while inside, open fires beckon from vintage grates.
At its heart, The Highwayman is a pub in love with its setting - which just happens to include great local food and unspoilt views. Greens and purples nod to colours of the landscape and famous producers like Peter Ascroft (cauliflowers) and Reg Johnson (Goosnargh chicken and duck) are celebrated in sought-after portraits on the walls. The hand pumps keep things regional too - with a new Thwaites-brewed “Highwayman” light amber ale coming in at a very quaffable 3.8%. Going back to basics has never been so pleasurable.