We'd never eaten in the Willows before, simply because every time we tried to find a table in this popular restaurant there was an enormous queue. It wasn't possible to pre-book a table unless there were at least five people in the group, we were told. There were three in ours, so unless we could manage to press gang a couple of passing strangers it was quite a challenge!
On our latest visit to the garden centre we came up with a plan after seeing people at tables in the Willows, apparently enjoying coffee or tea, up to 45 minutes before the noon start for lunchtime orders. So the three of us trooped in, ordered hot chocolate and coffee and were informed by a very obliging young waiter that, yes, we could indeed stay at our table until high noon!
It was well worth the wait!
We were shown to a spacious table in a corner of the restaurant, the special Christmas lunchtime menus arriving with the drinks.
And what an innovative selection of goodies on offer (by this time the restaurant had almost filled up - we felt quite smug!)
The three of us all picked the same starter (not good for reviews!) - blue Garstang cheese (beautifully rich and tangy), fresh figs and a lovely selection of salad leaves. Fabulous!
For mains, I plumped for the turkey (the first of many, no doubt, this festive season) which was wonderfully tasty and succulent.
My wife chose the lamb Henry which was that tender the meat fell from the bone even as the fork approached! Sea bass was the choice of my sister who declared, unequivocally, that it was the best she had ever tasted. A variety of vegetables, mashed and roast potatoes and parsnips also adorned the beautifully presented plates.
The service was outstanding - for example, when we asked for water, it arrived courtesy of a huge jug clinking with ice, along with three sparkling glasses brimming with ice and lemon. Excellent.
We were too full to address a mouth-watering list of sweets - we'll save them until the next time. And there will be a next time...now that we've cracked the Willows entry code!
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