Three years ago the Anglers Rest in Bamford was on a downward spiral. Food was limited to crisps and peanuts and the brewery had put the business up for sale.
But all that has changed now, thanks to the local community – who clubbed together to buy the building and reopen it as a cosy pub, with its own bright and airy café and home to the village Post Office too.
This month the Anglers Rest is celebrating its third anniversary with a well-timed refurbishment and a promising future as a real community hub.
A key player in that success story is head chef Adam Highley, who is helping to build a reputation for good quality, home cooked food using local ingredients.
The community co-operative which owns the venture was thrilled when Adam agreed to take the job: “Good quality food was high on the list of priorities for local people when we first started talking about buying the Anglers. In Adam we’ve found someone who really fits that brief,” says Rebecca McIntyre, one of the founders.
The new chef is relishing the challenge: “We’re a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered,” he says.
It’s a versatile dish which can go in any direction
Adam trained in Lancaster, then worked in hotels and gastro-pubs across the country: “There’s no substitute for experience in the industry.
“Working in good solid places, serving good food and not being afraid to be busy, is key.”
That’s not to say he has extravagant tastes. When off duty, Adam is partial to a pizza – though he goes for something a little more quirky than a basic margherita. His favourite topping is cheese, tomatoes and green chilli.
Fortunately another local supplier is on hand to fulfil that order.
On Tuesdays, Adam’s night off, Sunshine Pizza Ovens not only cooks his pizza but also fills the gap at the Anglers.
“It’s part of the whole ethos of the project: supporting local suppliers, buying local ingredients and employing local people,” says Rebecca.
Adam’s signature dish is crispy ham hock hash with slow cooked belly pork, black pudding and fried eggs: “It’s a versatile dish which can go in any direction, as the mood takes you,” he says.
“I love to improvise based on the ingredients available.”
And it has certainly gone down a treat with the locals: one of them tweeted on January 7 that it was ‘an early contender for meal of the year”!
The Anglers Rest is open seven days a week, with food served Wednesday to Sunday. Bookings are now being taken for Christmas. For full details visit the website: The Anglers Rest
Recipe by Adam Highley
Crispy ham hock hash with slow cooked belly pork, black pudding and fried eggs
1kg pork belly & rib bones
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 large bulb of fennel, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
400g smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
1 large onion, finely chopped
125g salted butter
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
500g cooked ham hock
4 portions cooked roast potatoes, roughly chopped
2 generous handfuls of cooked green vegetables, lightly chopped
1 tblsp chopped parsley
8 slices black pudding e.g. Paul Bowyers of Hathersage
8 free range eggs
chopped chives for dressing
Season the pork belly with salt, pepper and fennel seeds. Set on a trivet of rib bones with the celery, fennel, onion and herbs in a roasting dish, then add a pint of water. Cover with a lid, or baking parchment then tin foil. Pot roast for 3hrs at 140ºC or until very tender, adding more water if necessary. Remove lid for last half hour to crisp the skin.
Cook the chopped onion with the butter, bacon and herb sprigs until softened. Fry the ham hock pieces in a little vegetable oil, until they start to crisp, then add potatoes, bacon, onion mix and lightly chopped greens. Muddle together well and keep frying to crisp up the potatoes. Check seasoning and finish with chopped parsley and a little more butter if it appears dry.
Grill or fry the pieces of black pudding; fry the eggs.
Divide the hash mix into 4 and place a portion in the middle of each plate. Slice the pork belly into 8 and place 2 pieces on top of each serving of hash. Place the black pudding on one side of each plate. Gently put the fried eggs on top and finish with chopped chives.