Today (27 November) is Lancashire Day. A great opportunity, I thought, to blog about something completely different – food and drink – and give a shout-out to a good local Lancashire business in my neck of the woods.
Provenance in Westhoughton, outside Bolton, is a food hall and restaurant that has risen quickly up the ranks of the places to eat and drink in Lancashire.
It has plenty of praise on TripAdvisor. A few weeks ago, it was listed in the 2017 edition of the prestigious Good Food Guide. It was also highly commended in the Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards 2016.
Good going for somewhere that’s only been open 18 months.
The food hall has got a nice butchery (lovely sausages), a bakery, and a deli (good choice of cheeses). You can get things that are out of the mainstream – the nougat I’ve bought a couple of times (it’s Italian, I think) is really nice.
And what about the restaurant? I’m hardly a food critic, but having had everything from a bowl of soup to a Sunday roast and a full three-course dinner, I can genuinely say that every meal I’ve had has been good.
I suppose they’re not in the Good Food Guide for nothing. And the Tuesday Steak Night – steak, chips and a drink for a tenner – can’t be grumbled at.
Provenance stresses quality and traceability in the ingredients sold and cooked there. From speaking to its proprietors over the months, I get the sense there is a genuine pride in what they’ve created.
I should disclose that I’m a regular. I go in the restaurant just for a coffee or a drink (I think it’s the only place round about where you can get an Aperol Spritz) and I occasionally pop into the food hall for a hot sandwich (sausage and onion for me).
But I’m also Westhoughton born-and-bred. In the large and small provincial towns in this part of the world, on the hinterland of the region’s big cities, changes in retail over the years have gradually stripped away the soul of high streets to a certain degree, with shops shutting down and Identikit town centres and retail parks.
So, having somewhere like Provenance on the doorstep – a place to get a few bits (as we Lancastrians say), a place to have a good meal or a simple coffee – is positive.
Simply – it’s just good to have a nice place like it around.
On Lancashire Day, that’s something worth highlighting.