GIVEN the plethora of awards it has picked up in the past 12 months, it was with great expectation that I visited the Eagle and Child.

We arrived early on a Saturday afternoon and already families were filtering into the venue, a testament to its popularity.

The chilled tap water and bread on arrival was gratefully received, as was my pint of Kingstone Press, a welcome alternative to the usual ciders available on draught.

To start, we shared a delicious pot — literally a plant pot — of whole whitebait sprinkled with paprika, served with a homemade tartare sauce. The portion was intended for one but was ample filling for two. Delicious it was too and it was only £3.95.

Unfortunately a cancelled delivery, blamed on the weather, rendered my girlfriend unable to order the gammon main course and instead she plumped for an almighty BLT, side salad (£7.50) and fruit juice. Again the portion was generous and tasty, even if there was a tad too much mustard for her liking.

No such qualms for me. I had the Goosnargh chicken and ham hock pie with Lancashire cheese and mash crust (£11.95) and a side of chunky chips, which is up there with the finest pies I’ve ever had.

The fillings were tender, the gravy tasty, and the green beans added some welcome freshness.

Chef-cum-owner Glen Duckett has created a unique atmosphere. Staff were attentive and friendly and a good selection of real ales, wines and coffees means meals are easily washed down.

An ideal stop-off point for anyone travelling south from East Lancashire towards Manchester.