Restaurant Review: Langs of Longton, Near Preston

Langs of Longton – Never Disappoints 

I was comfortably seated in Langs of Longton bar-come-quarantine area, overlooked by an imposing television, bizarrely playing a muted David Jason rerun (sadly not Danger Mouse). I assumed the silent flashing images kept the more docile Longton diners amused during busy periods.

The Langs of Longton décor and ambience needed work: the generous littering of bold red flowers, sharp monochrome furniture and harsh black finishes appealed only to Cruella De Vil. Fangs would be more appropriate sign above the door. I could live with the interior design if it were consistent, but part vaudeville, part Ikea, mixed vertical stripes, patterned carpets, canvases a la Changing Rooms circa 1999 and contemporary lighting was restaurant schizophrenia.

A stocky bold gentleman, ‘Ross Kemp on Langs‘, orchestrated the service efficiently. He was charmingly on first name terms with most of The Langs of Longton diners – a reassuring sign of happy clientele. I was lead to the thoughtfully laid out large dining room, with a partially open kitchen providing a vibrancy to the restaurant.

Slurping the Las Valles (Spanish house red), trying to recognise the supposed ‘intense fruit on the palate’, I eyed the window ledges lined with promotional bottles of sealed but empty champagne bottles. The decorations reminded diners that yes – don’t take our word for it – champagne is sold here. I had flashbacks of student filled Plungington, Fallowfield and Wavertree and proudly displayed Jack Daniels bottles and pyramids of Carlsberg empties.

Enough chit-chat and on to the food: it was all excellent and presented beautifully. The black pudding – tragically never the belle of the ball – looked as good as it ever could. The streak of vibrant sweet potato was attractively set against a warm black slate; it was hearty without being stodgy, perfectly seasoned and cooked. The fishcakes had a great balance of flavours and kept their texture admirably. The gammon was generously portioned and attractively presented; perhaps not carrying a huge depth of flavour, but certainly succulent and tasty. The homemade ketchup, poached egg, chunky chips, wilted greens and mustard cream were all greedily but gratefully shovelled in. The beer battered haddock goujons with peas à la français, tartare sauce, skinny chips, was thankfully grease-free and wolfed down. The sushi was carefully prepared and pretty as a proverbial. The assiette of desserts was unusual and charming. Deserts shouldn’t take themselves too seriously, (leave that to the starters), and this had a welcome fun element.

The Langs of Longton kitchen was very big on miniature stuff. Almost every dish had an obligatory small thing, to make you scrunch your cheeks up and feel broody. Want chips? There’s a miniature chip pan for that sir! Any vegetable sides? Use the dwarf sized copper-pots! Serving a risotto? No fear, the micro skillet is here! Coulis Madam? Got it: shot glass! What isn’t miniature are the portions. After three courses I didn’t feel so much full but heavily pregnant. I had meat-sweat hallucinations of Langs of Longton morphing into a maternity ward, which I felt strangely grateful for.

Langs of Longton provided slap-up dinners (whatever that means), at reasonable prices. There are few restaurants that compete with Langs of Longton for value, especially considering their high quality of cooking, across a surprising range of dishes. The décor wasn’t my cup of tea, but the friendly organised service and attention to detail on the plate (or slate) certainly was.

Bravo!

Langs of Longton
Review Summary

Atmosphere 6  Cost 10  Quality 8  Service 9

Langs of Longton Restaurant Review
Langs, Preston – Great Value

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Restaurant Review: The Shampan, Preston

The Shampan – Didn’t Curry Favour

In the most fantastic piece of PR hyperbole ever witnessed, The Shampan Preston promised a ‘zen like atmosphere’. Last time I sat under gaudy neon, watching giant TVs playing hypnotic music I waited for lap dances, not a Chicken Tikka Masalas. I have visited on various occasions, and more than once the staff were comically rude and void of rapport. My all time favourite example was a Shampan Preston’s server abruptly

I’ve visited The Shampan Preston many times, usually, the staff were comically rude and void of rapport. My personal favourite demonstration was a server abruptly stopping in his tracks, cartoonishly double taking, and with a broad smile, zealously proclaimed my partner looked like ‘Ugly Betty’ – the ensuing awkward silence was suffocating.

I have thick skin and a nose for a bargain, so keep crawling back. The Shampan Preston’s Early Bird Menu offers fantastic value, guaranteeing a decent meal for cheaper than I can cook myself, minus the hassle.

The poppadums, sundries and starters were uninspiring but perfectly edible. If used in conjunction with The Shampan Preston’s Early Bird offer, they’re basically free. If you like food that is so hot it makes you cry, go for Chicken Naga Naga. It’s the highlight of The Shampan Preston’s menu, saturated with flavour and full of married together oomph. There is something to be said for eating a meal that doesn’t leave you painfully leaking from every orifice; if you don’t enjoy the exhilaration of inflamed stomach lining and trachea, the Nepali Chicken is a tasty, sensible choice. The Classic Favourites are fine but forgettable, the Madras being particularly flavourless. The side portions and bread were generously portioned, moreish and fabulously unhealthy. The Shampan Preston’s drinks were pricey, but with the Early Bird Menu being so inexpensive, this was no cause for alarm.

The Shampan Preston is not designed for romance but is a great value midweek eatery for chilli-heads looking for speedy service and lots of choices.

The Shampan Preston
Review Summary

Atmosphere 2   Cost 10    Quality 6    Service 2

*Since this review was first published, The Shampan Preston is unfortunately no longer with us –   hence the lack of link*

Restaurant Review: The Sparling, Preston

The Sparling – Flying High

There’s something admirable about restaurants supporting local interests; The Sparling advised their “meat [is] brought in from Hamlets of Garstang, our superb sausages from Mr Pugh’s Pigley Farm, fresh fish from West Coast Seafoods in Fleetwood…” The Sparling’s menu was full of traditional offerings which frankly all sounded tempting, but with enough variety to remain intriguing.

The home made chicken liver parfait was made to look as presentable as possible, but is never the belle of the ball; regardless, it was delicious, creamy and full of flavour. Not dissimilar to Foie gras but lighter on the wallet and the bad karma. The black pudding, poached egg and hollandaise sauce were perfectly simple and simply perfect: the hollandaise was silky and sensual, dribbling over the rich dark bloody oats. The roast duck was satisfyingly crispy, served with sensational celeriac puree, and buttery truffle-mash the size of a fat woman’s overdue new-born. The roast beef was an attractive piece of cow; not ground-breaking, but tender and plentiful. The house red was pleasant, slightly peppery – as good as could be expected.

Unfortunately, The Sparling lacked life and was a little cold. However, a mid-afternoon visit was unlikely a fair reflection of their general atmosphere. The Sparling itself was tastefully decorated, predominately with neutral contemporary furnishings and natural finishes. Diners are given a substantial greeting and a hearty goodbye, with service being friendly and efficient throughout. The only minor gripe was being poured large glasses of wine as standard.

Based on the early-bird menu, Garstang’s The Sparling is probably the best value restaurant in the Preston area.

More of this, please.

The Sparling Review Summary

Atmosphere 5/10    Cost 10/10    Service 8/10    Quality 8/10

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