There are few finer things in life than sitting in a warm, cosy pub on a Sunday afternoon around this time of year, especially when that pub can give you what was probably the best pub meal I’ve ever had.

My recent Sunday lunchtime visit to the Ribchester Arms, just outside the village of Ribchester in the Ribble Valley countryside, left me with that exact feeling.

For full disclosure, myself and my dining companion (mum for short) hadn’t actually planned to go here having already been a few weeks prior (and having a very similar, excellent experience).

Lancashire Telegraph: The outside of the Ribchester ArmsThe outside of the Ribchester Arms (Image: NQ)

We had first been around 15 minutes up the road at The Three Fishes in Mitton.

We had been seated and were browsing the menu before baulking at the £55 per head set menu price, which admittedly we should have noticed before we got comfortable but nevertheless, was too much for a little Sunday afternoon jaunt.

We then headed just two minutes down the road to The Aspinall Arms, picturesquely set right on the banks of the River Ribble, and immediately got the feeling we would be waiting for a while from the hustle and bustle in the car park.

This turned out to be true, with a 90-minute wait for a table for two.

Thus, we headed back to familiarity at the Ribchester Arms, and after being seated in a cosy little corner, perfect for two people, we immediately felt we had made the right choice.

The main dining area next to the bar is set on two levels, though those higher up, still feel tucked away and not in full view of the people next to the bar due to the partitioning walls.

Lancashire Telegraph: The menus come in a lovely wood bindingThe menus come in a lovely wood binding (Image: NQ)

The interior is just what you want and expect when you walk into a large country pub – it’s homely, there are warm colours everywhere you look, and it makes you feel at ease.

Having already been impressed by the fish and chips I’d ordered a few weeks before, I did have half a mind to not even look at the other dishes and go straight for that.

But, if only to prove to my mum I’m not still the picky eater she battled with for years at dinner times, I decided to browse the lovely wood-bound menu.

It’s certainly not the largest menu I’ve ever seen, but that’s not always a bad thing – not in this case anyway.

Lancashire Telegraph: The steak pie enjoyed by both of usThe steak pie enjoyed by both of us (Image: NQ)

We both went for the steak and ale pie with chips and when it arrived, we both gave each other a knowing smile as if to say, ‘this looks delicious.’ And we were right.

The pie crust was firm to the touch but didn’t feel like you were eating a crisp when chewing it, while the meat was like nothing I’d ever tasted before; the peas, even for a child in their mid-20s who struggles with vegetables, tasted fresh; and the chips were cooked to perfection, and were a solid portion rather than the offerings you get in some other pubs.

Knowing we both have a sweet tooth, a quick look of the dessert menu was non-negotiable and within minutes of our plates being cleared by the staff, who looked after us amazingly well given it was the Sunday lunchtime rush, we had a sticky toffee pudding and a cheesecake on the way.

Again, there was absolutely nothing we could complain about. The sticky toffee pudding had that homemade, comforting feel about it, and though I’m not a cheesecake lover, I’m assured it was delicious.

Lancashire Telegraph: A bit overeager before taking the photo of the sticky toffee pudding, but it was just too nice...A bit overeager before taking the photo of the sticky toffee pudding, but it was just too nice... (Image: NQ)

If I had been drinking on that particular day, I might have been ever so slightly disappointed with the beer choices on offer – but these may be contractually bound and we were both happy with Pepsi and J20, so it wasn’t a bother to us.

At the end of the meal when I went to wash my hands, I was slightly surprised to see some damage to the ceiling in the men’s bathroom, as well as some very obvious signs of damp on the wall.

Obviously, this didn’t affect my meal, which is the main reason I was there, but there was a little tinge of disappointment nonetheless.

Lancashire Telegraph: The damp issues in the mens' bathroomThe damp issues in the mens' bathroom (Image: NQ)

Overall, this was an excellent way to spend an hour or two on a Sunday. There’s classic pub dishes to suit everybody (a large range of vegan and vegetarian meals too) a kid-friendly range too, and, for less than the price of one person’s food at our original choice of restaurant, we got two meals, two desserts, and two drinks, and were more than satisfied.

In terms of the food (which came out at just over £50 for the two of us), the service, and the ambience of the pub, it’s four-and-a-half stars, but with half a star knocked off for the bathroom issues.

Don’t let that put you off though – you’ll leave this place wanting to come back every weekend.