[Wiswell, Lancashire] Freemasons

Wiswell is an hour’s drive from home so we don’t get to eat here too often. In fact, it was last summer when we were last here. They change the menus seasonally which is a good thing – although a bit disappointing that it was pretty much the same as last year’s summer menu. There’s two menus – a well priced set menu, and a carte with dishes in the upper £20s (and even one fish course in the low £30s). We both went with the set menu.

One starter featured a small mackerel fillet, flame grilled, with finely chopped cucumber, mint, pea shoots and a savoury white ice cream which really didn’t taste of anything at all and, as such, was just a bit odd. I asked the server what it was I’d just eaten to be told it was horseradish. Now, horseradish would have worked well with the fish but it just didn’t taste of it. Shame. The other starter was a courgette flower filled with shellfish and deep fried in a tempura batter, along with a courgette, similarly fried. That came with a sauce vierge, interestingly tweaked with the addition of a little strawberry. Both plates were light, fresh and absolutely fine.

For main courses, there was suckling pig and haddock. The fish came fried with a small salad of, mainly, very thinly sliced fennel and a warm tartare sauce – not the fairly thick stuff you’d get from a jar but a quite runny affair which quickly softened the once crisp batter of the fish. It needed a carb so there was a side order of chips. Long cooked suckling pig came baked in a crisp brioche “pie”. Now, suckling pig is never going to be the most flavoursome piggy but I was a bit disappointed in it. The brioche, looking for all the world like a bread roll, sat in a pool of really good sauce. It came with new potatoes but, like the other dish, needed something else to accompany it – broccoli was ordered and may have been the most enjoyable thing on the plate. Again, both dishes were OK.

We didn’t have dessert but finished with espresso (not served piping hot).

So, an OK lunch which with drinks, extras and tip had bumped initial food costs in the mid £40s to over £90 and, to be frank, I’m not convinced it was worth that.

1 Like

sounds disappointing! i hate paying good money for stuff i wish i hadn’t eaten. better luck with the next one!

Freemasons is the name of the restaurant? (is there any affiliation with the Freemasons?)


This is not the original village pub - that closed 150 years ago apparently. That said, the Freemasons has been a pub and now pub/restaurant for many years. It used to be three cottages, one of which was the local masonic lodge.

It’s not uncommon as a pub name - the Free/Masons Arms is the 29th most popular name in England. Not as popular a name as one of the pubs in my village - the Prince of Wales (where I drank my first legal pint) but more popular than the other - the Horse & Farrier - records suggest that dates backs about 300 years and there’s probably been a hostelry of some sorts there back to medieval times. And certainly more popular than the longest pub name in England which is in the borough where I used to work - “The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn”. I suspect most folk just say they are off to the pub rather than using its name.

Interesting…is it open to the public? You don’t find the use of the name anywhere outside the lodge here in the states. My father is a mason, I have not chosen to follow in his steps, yet. (always been in the back of my mind, I started the interview process when I was 20 years old, but quit, not feeling I was mature enough)

There’s nothing to see of the original lodge - it’s all incorporated into the pub. I’ve been trying to find online when it became a pub but without success.

FWIW, the lodge building in my nearest city (Manchester) has recently closed as such and, I think, been sold to developers (or perhaps leased). A restaurant has recently opened in it, appropriately called “Masons”. No doubt I’ll get round to trying it at some point. https://confidentials.com/manchester/masons-bar-restaurant-manchester-hall-bridge-street

Interesting, very interesting. Thanks for the follow up!