When the Vittoria’s Italian restaurant was acquired by the Rural Inns group earlier this year, it was refreshing that they opted to revert to the premises being known by the Fairfield Arms name which had applied up to five or so years ago.
It suggested traditional hospitality would be at the heart of what the new owners had to offer at the hostelry so close to the M55 junction 3 and, on the many occasions we have passed within a few hundred yards on the journey between Marton and Broughton, we have been promising ourselves for some time to check out whether that is indeed the case.
We were in need of a pick-me-up after a hectic Bank Holiday Weekend, which included an hour-long wait for what turned out to be very ordinary food at a town centre pub on the other side of the Pennines, so we were hoping to have our faith restored in quality fare and service as we headed off to honour our early evening booking.
We felt it best to reserve a spot in case the Fairfield’s proximity to the motorway proved a particular magnet to some of the hordes of visitors heading east after the holiday weekend.
But as it turned out, it was a good time to call and we were swiftly shown to our table by a friendly greeter on arrival in the main bar area, which boasts a colourful ice cream counter as well as a number of seats for dining.
Our table was well appointed in the adjoining room and it was pointed out to us that menus were on the table and that when we were ready, we should order at the bar.
It seems the new menu has only recently been introduced and we were impressed with the wealth of choices available, including some rather different options which particularly appealed.
For starters, I opted for black pudding and stilton bon bons (£5.95), a taste combination which was new to me even after more than three decades of dining out and which was an absolute delight.
My wife and daughter opted to share a bread board (£3.95), featuring flatbread, sourdough and ciabatta, with pots of butter and garlic oil on the side. They were satisfied enough but disappointed that the flatbread had none of the garlic advertised on the menu.
For mains, among a wide choice of pub favourites, grills, pizzas, burgers and deli sandwiches, the daughter and I were particularly intrigued by the section entitled ‘Mix It Up Sizzlers’.
We have long been fans of fajitas at various locations, but the offering here took that up a notch, with a choice of steak, chicken, vegetable or halloumi skewers, served on a sizzling platter, with a choice of dip and two sides.
While I went for piri piri dip, tortillas and dressed salad with my cajun chicken skewers (£11.95), the teen decided on a sweet chilli dip, tortillas and skin-on fries with her halloumi (£10.95).
And what a feast they both were - hefty portions, which in the end left us both defeated, as was also the case with my wife’s halloumi burger, two generous pieces of cheese marinated in sweet chili served with fries (£10.95).
We were impressed with the quality - as well as the quantity - of the food along with the service, which was so refreshing after our experience in Yorkshire a couple of days earlier.
The only slight niggle is the ordering at the bar, standard enough at such venues, but which can sometimes prove an irritating factor at busier times. All in all, though, it was a very satisfying meal indeed.
The menu includes plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, plus offers such as two roasts for £15 on a Sunday, and some delightful sweet choices, which we were far too full to consider.
With soft drinks, our bill was £49.20 and we pledged to return soon, probably, considering portion sizes, bypassing starters next time.