Rocking up to the Oyster and Otter we were initially taken aback by the modern, Scandinavian look of the building - usually reserved for new Brewyers Faryes and other such establishments, we hoped the food wouldn't be the usual chain food offerings of over-cooked steak and greasy finger food.
Oyster and Otter interior (with thanks to The Oyster and Otter)
Walking in we were confronted by a very busy bar decked out in usual gastropub guise of specials on blackboards, Farrow and Ball paint shades and mismatched furniture tied together with the use of the same fabric recovering their reclaimed chairs. The pub has been very well put together and has a modern, yet cosy feel - they haven't tried to recreate an old style pub as so many gastropubs do and is a welcome change.
Initial success came upon finding that the bar stocked Hendrick's; second success came when they offered cucumber without us having to ask (though we did have to wait whilst they popped to the kitchen to find some).
We were seated away from the bar but still in the main room (there's a back room too) and were impressed by the varied selection on the menu; unusually for a pub menu there's a lot of fish - this comes from the Otter's owners - a one family group with a background in catering, fishing and sourcing quality produce.
We started with the platter to share, which was a fishy selection of crispy squid, scallop gratin, prawns and hot smoked salmon salad. The calamari was gorgeous, really crispy without being chewy and the prawns were massive, meaty, sweet and fresh. I'm not a fan of cheese and scallops, but the gratin was actually very well executed - a well seasoned and runny-ish sauce with plenty of perfectly cooked, tiny, sweet queenies to be found within.
For mains the boy and mother-in-law took advantage of the hearty pub food on offer (well, we were in a gastropub). Mother-in-law's steak was obviously a well-sourced piece of meat and cooked expertly. The boy's pie (actually called The Pie on the menu) was fully enclosed and hand shaped, hiding an entire cow's worth of oozy, beefy filling - as we all know about the boy's love of beefy pastry delights, you can guess how amazed at having this beauty on his plate.
I'd gone left-field with my choice and order the pollock and chorizo off the specials board. I was a little apprehensive at the inclusion of chorizo in a fish dish as a poor salami can overpower even a meaty piece of fish with a metallic paprika flavour. I had no need to be worried as the chorizo used was of very high quality and the meaty, porcine, slightly spicy flavours complimented the massive piece of pollock and highlighted the dish's other star ingredient of mussels. The whole dish married beautifully and each piece was cooked brilliantly (take note on mussel cooked Rigalettos).
Pollock with mussels and chorizo
Having stuffed ourselves silly with the generous portions provided we only had room for ice-cream, which I'm so glad we chose. I'm not too happy with the current trend of pubs charging nearly £5 a dish for three scoops of ice-creams, knowing full well that a whole tub of it only costs that much - rant over though, the ice-cream was deliciously creamy and the amaretto flavour rounded off the meal perfectly.
The Oyster and Otter isn't cheap for a pub, but the food is well sourced and is excellently put together by an obviously competent kitchen. The service we had was very attentive and friendly and it seems the whole team pull together well. The only downer on the whole night was the heat - we got so hot I had to take my shoes off!
Ps - for those local, you don't even have to pop in to the pub - they have a takeaway at the side of the building offering fish, chips and homemade pies.
Price for one sharing platter, three mains, one pudding, three gin and tonics and three pints - £79.50.
Food - 7/10
Atmosphere - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Value for money - 6/10
Total - 28/40
The Oyster and Otter, Livesey Branch Road, Feniscowles, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB2 5DQ -
01254 203200 - www.oysterandotter.co.uk/index.html