Ever since the Harvester close to our home closed and took on a new guise, our teenage daughter hasn’t missed a chance to mention how much she misses the salad bar which was such an integral ingredient of visits there.
As she grew up, it played a key role in educating her palate, allowing her to sample a wide range of healthier options amid the likes of fish and chips and scampi which were invariably her choice of main course.
The free fresh facility also went down well with ourselves and fellow adult diners as it added a welcome extra element to a meal and, as it offered as many return visits as we could manage, very often did away with the need to choose a starter.
So as we headed north up the coast on a recent Saturday lunchtime, we decided to check out the next nearest Harvester we knew of, the Jubilee Park next to the cinema on the seafront at Cleveleys.
However, as we turned into the car park, we saw that that, too, had lost its Harvester identity to be rebranded a Ploughman’s Table eaterie, part of the Milton Pubs chain.
Despite our daughter’s initial reservations, with time short to find an alternative dining venue ahead of an afternoon appointment, we headed inside – and were so glad we did.
Not only were we greeted warmly and efficiently, shown to a perfectly-appointed table in the window overlooking the sea and handed menus offering a wide choice of dishes for all three of us, but there in all its glory was the salad bar – still in situ despite the switch of identity.
To our daughter’s particular delight, after taking our orders, our friendly server invited us to visit said salad bar and the teen eagerly filled her plate with a wide range of fresh goodies, which included nachos and pasta as well as the more regular salad items and brown or white bread rolls.
As we had experienced previously, such were the free options that we didn’t really need a starter but we couldn’t resist sharing a portion of nachos, among a wide range of tapas-style items available on the menu at £4.50 each, two for £8.50, three for £12 or four for £14.50. The likes of port meatballs, cheesy garlic bread and potato skins were also on the list.
Covered in melted cheese, salsa and guacamole, the nachos were tasty and good value but came in a small high-sided dish which made them rather difficult to access.
Along with breakfast options, served up to 11.30am, and starters and snacks, the main menu is divided neatly into sections including steaks, chicken and combos, burger and buns, fish and vegetarian and vegan followed by ‘Sundae Parlour’ and dessert sections.
My choice of chicken and chorizo stack (£9.99), with tomato salsa and peppers, was billed as being accompanied by spicy rice but on being told by the server that only plain rice was available, I took up the option of switching to jacket potato and it was a very satisfying plateful.
For those, like me, who get rather tired of chips being the only accompaniment available, it was refreshing to find that the Jubilee Park offers the opportunity of free swaps and very modestly priced upgrades – other locations should take note.
Mrs D stuck with the chips to accompany her veggie burger (£8.99) topped with halloumi cheese and sliced mushrooms. She declared it very tasty but the portion was so big she had to leave some.
As for the teen, she was in her element as she found a personal favourite – halloumi cheese and chips, with mushy or garden peas (£8.29) – among the veggie options and eagerly cleared her plate.
The Sundae Parlour section, with a wide variety of options for under a fiver, plus the opportunity to add extra ingredients for just 79p each, looked very inviting indeed.
But we were too full for dessert – maybe next time, which we vowed would be soon.
With soft drinks, our bill came to an eminently reasonable £37.07.
GAZETTE RATING: 8/10