Eating Out: Royal Oak Inn, Little Cawthorpe
THE Royal Oak Inn at Little Cawthorpe, near Louth, is a real home from home.
A roaring fire, top-quality food, smiles in abundance and a place to relax and wash away any pressures, is how we found it.
The brook, which has to be crossed to get to the popular bar restaurant, nearly washed away more than our stresses as the melting snow created quite a torrent.
But the stream, which gives the venue its more popular name – The Splash – is easily crossed whatever the weather, so long as you drive carefully and give way to anyone coming the other way.
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With such a homely feel to the place it was not surprising, therefore, to bump into our neighbours as they took their 92-year-old matriarch out for a lunchtime treat.
Our six-week-old baby felt just at home, too, and the staff were kind and heated her lunchtime milk bottle.
Having chatted for a while with the neighbours, we ordered a couple of soft drinks at the bar and found our own cosy snug.
Soaking in the relaxed feel to the pub, we took our time browsing the new winter menu.
It was filled with delights.
With temperatures not having gone above freezing for a couple of days, I decided soup was the best choice of the day.
The roasted red pepper soup, at £4.95, was superb. My partner had mushroom in smoked bacon, topped with Monterey Jack cheese sauce, also at £4.95.
She loved it and suggested respectfully that pancetta might have worked better and made it perfect.
The dish was perfectly presented.
Other starter options included prawn cocktail with Marie rose sauce at £5.25 or The Splash home-made chicken liver and bacon pate on Foccacia bread, for £4.95.
The combo of mushroom and chicken liver and bacon pate with filo prawn with naan bread was very tempting, too.
A wide range of sandwiches, including cheese, egg, tuna or roast meats, were on offer at £4.95 and baguettes with hot and cold fillings with chips, for £5.95, were available for those looking for a snack lunch.
The venue also offered a range of jacket potato fillings, from £4.95 to £5.95, and there was a good range of salads, from £7.95 to £8.95.
The fish dishes looked equally appetising, with haddock with all the trimmings for £9.25, or Whitby breaded scampi for £8.75. The fresh Grimsby fish of the day was £10.50.
For vegetarians, there was a tasty vegetable bean curry with rice and naan for £9.50, or a mushroom, spinach and stilton pie.
Chicken dishes included hand-battered chicken breast in a rich barbecue sauce, for £10.25.
But our day was made complete when we tucked into a tasty gammon dish with both egg and pineapple, chips and peas and a lasagne with salad.
My partner said her lasagne was wonderful, though the edges were crisper than necessary.
The gammon was equally delicious.
We were both full. Although tempted by desserts, including ice-cream at £4.95, we resisted.
On another day I would have gone for the range of European cheeses for £5.95.
There was also a gluten-free choice of sponges and treacle or chocolate brownie, for £4.95.
It was good to see The Splash has maintained its tradition of very high standards and its new winter menu has to be sampled whatever the weather.
For more information, visit www.royaloaksplash.co.uk