Ram’s Head, Denshaw
You can’t call the Rams Head a hidden gem, it’s stuck on top of the moors for all the world to see, if only anyone ever drove up here. It’s not even in Yorkshire but just over the border into Lancashire, but you’d be missing a trick if you pass it, it’s a surprising delight. A bit like the grim pub in Withnail and I from the outside, but thankfully no scary Michael Elphick killing eels on the edge of the bar and there’s a fire in the grate and a warm welcome and at least two eating rooms plus a pukka snug, complete with quarry tiled floor and oak settles; a real old style cosy corner.
The Rams Head has been in the Haigh family for thirty years, and there’s a deep sense of continuity here; tartan carpets, floral walls, gleaming glasses and an eccentric collection of memorabilia – creative clutter if you like.
A three course lunch menu for thirteen quid is good value; a classic prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce (but where are the triangles of brown bread and butter? And if you’ve got the neck to put it on the menu, serve it in a high glass, like they used to at the Berni Inns) Not remotely 80’s but very interesting is rabbit satay, which arrives glistening and succulent, and the main courses are good too. Another classic, haddock gratin, comes bubbling away, a stunning looking (and tasting) plate of pink wild pigeon on a bed of savoy cabbage and an orange and raisin sauce. A cracking bread and butter pudding (two spoons please) completes the lining of the stomach – the only duff note is James Blunt warbling too loudly, but he’s turned down on request. The adjoining shop/deli/caff is impressive; local meat, including Chadwick’s black pudding, sausages and bacon, with poultry and game from Reg Johnson, home made cakes and bread, good Gaggia coffee (yaay) and a very pleasant corner to sit in and read the glossies.