Never underestimate the power of the pub.
The lure of cheap booze from supermarkets and the smoking ban may have had a devastating impact on the pub industry in recent years – but, thankfully, there are still plenty of thriving watering holes.
A good local needs a heady mixture of decent ale, lager, wine, and food as well as easy conversation and fine hospitality.
And that’s exactly what you’ll find at The Highlands in Bispham; a pub at the heart of its community.
Situated on Queen’s Promenade, near a tram stop and with views across the Irish Sea, it’s prominent enough to be a stop-off for visitors .
But its success lies with its connection with ‘the locals’.
A chat over the bar, a fine range of ales to try, and home-cooked style food is good for the mind; it spreads happiness and a feeling of community spirit.
And it’s exactly why we chose The Highlands as a treat for the hubby for Father’s Day.
There was a special menu of three courses for £15.95 which seemed very reasonable and a children’s menu priced at £4.95 for a main course and ice cream.
The two youngest opted for the children’s menu, with one choosing chicken nuggets and chips (with cucumber on the side as a special request) and the other opting for pasta bolognese with garlic bread.
The portions were generous and, best of all, the chips were homemade – delicious!
Our teenage diner has a good enough appetite for the adult menu now and was delighted with her choices – pate for starter and chicken tikka masala with rice and a poppadom as her main course.
It felt like all his Father’s Days had come at once when the hubby saw black pudding and steak dishes on the menu.
So he went for the black pudding stack – layers of black pudding with bacon and a creamy mustard sauce – which he devoured, followed by steak with those fabulous homemade chips and a side of vegetables.
The hubby had asked for the steak to be cooked rare to medium but it was overcooked for his liking.
Nevertheless , it was enjoyable overall.
I chose pate with onion chutney, toast and salad as a starter.
The portion was plentiful and the tangy onion chutney complemented the pate.
For main, I enjoyed haddock in a creamy parsley sauce with potatoes and a side of vegetables (green beans, peas, swede and carrots).
The fish and vegetables were cooked perfectly and the sauce did the trick to boost the overall flavour of the dish.
Three desserts finished the meal off beautifully.
The profiteroles were light but with plenty of filling and a lemon cheesecake gave the right balance of tangy citrus and creamy indulgence.
The Highlands staff are incredibly friendly, helpful and offer a warm welcome, giving the pub that home from home feeling.
And with quiz nights, live music and even a meat raffle on certain dates, it’s doing everything possible to remain at the heart of the community.
With drinks, the bill came to £67 which is incredibly reasonable for a family of five.
It’s no wonder it’s a firm favourite with locals.
Gazette rating: 8 out of 10