The next place to get a visit from Preston Blog As part of our series of reviews of dog-friendly establishments, Preston Marina’s Beach Hut Cafe in Ashton-on-Ribble. I took my mom Yvonne, my old Chihuahua Archie and my new puppy Georgie to try it out. The website describes the menu as offering “specialty coffees, home cooking and pastry” as well as a licensed bar and pizzeria Thursday through Saturday. He also mentions the Doggy Diner, a special area of the cafe where dogs are welcome with a special dog menu.
We had a bit of trouble finding a parking space as the parking lot that belongs to the cafe did not have any empty spaces except for those labeled as reserved for mooring lines. We eventually parked on the road outside the area, but with a hint of trepidation as the Docklands lay under the terrifying shadow of the hated Parking Eye of Sauron.
Inside, the cafe was spacious and bright with a row of windows overlooking the marina. We were told to sit anywhere so we took a table by the window and took a look at the menus. They were terribly dirty, but after debating whether or not to stay, we decided that based on how clean the rest of the coffee was and whether I had a bottle of hand sanitizer in my bag, we would attribute it to an oversight. The tasty food on offer was the usual toppings in sandwiches and jacket potatoes and a few salads. Nothing that couldn’t be found in a 1970s cafe, although thankfully The Beach Hut didn’t smell of Quink ink and the crushed egg and watercress sandwiches, which is the official theme of the ’70s.
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I asked the friendly waiter what items were homemade and was told the spicy pulled pork and chili was made from scratch. I opted for the spicy pork bun with coleslaw, crisps and salad topping for £ 7.75, and Yvonne ordered a chicken and feta salad for £ 8.95. They arrived quickly and were served with a smile. Yvonne’s salad looked appetizing, with a good amount of chicken on top, a lemon wedge, a bun and a small pot of coleslaw. The vegetables were crisp with a nice tangy dressing that complemented the feta, but the chicken was unpleasantly dry and oaky with a slightly sweet taste that added nothing to the meal.
My bun had a fair amount of topping, but I found the flavor extremely sweet with little spice. I could only handle a few bites, so when the waiter asked me if everything was ok with our meals, I told him the problem. She offered to ask the chef to do something different so I asked what else on the menu is homemade. It turned out to be just the chili, which they were running out of, so I asked for a club sandwich (£ 8.50) in his absence.
The sandwich was on the table in record time, accompanied by a scattering of crisps. It contained lettuce, tomato, chicken, bacon and mayonnaise. The chicken was in the same dry, even slices as Yvonne’s salad, so I ended up choosing them. The bacon was good, but the sliced white bread was pale and soft, which made the sandwich fall apart like it had just watched episode six of Squid Game.
As I was arguing over my meal, a lady I assumed was the manager or owner asked me what was wrong with my spicy pork sandwich, and I told her it was extremely sweet. She replied that she was surprised because it did not contain sugar, which left us confused. She disappeared and a few minutes later came back with a copy of the recipe, which showed honey as the culprit.
Unfortunately, I love spices and dislike sugary sauces, so my relationship with this sandwich was doomed. If it was on the menu like pulled pork with barbecue sauce instead of just ‘spicy pork’ I would have avoided it. However, I’m sure anyone who enjoys pulled pork with barbecue sauce would be more than happy with the flavors and the generous amount of topping.
Since we hadn’t had too much luck with our dishes, we decided to see if the sweets were better. A number of the cakes were ‘bought’ but I was told that Granny’s chocolate crunch, scones and flapjacks were homemade, so I ordered a scone and cherry flapjack. There were only date and nut scones left, which I try to avoid as I don’t like vitamins cluttering up my desserts, but I resigned myself to them just for once. It was surprisingly wonderful; not at all dry or sticky like some scones or too sweet, and they weren’t skinny on the cream.
The flapjack was confusing because although it was “freshly made by The Beach Hut” on the plastic wrap, it came with a list of ingredients that I had never seen before in a homemade flapjack.
Flapjacks should taste like their simple ingredients; oats, butter, syrup or honey and maybe some fruit or spice, but this one smelled strongly of Play-Doh and tasted oily rather than buttery. I don’t know why there were so many ingredients like emulsifiers, preservatives and colorings added to a homemade cake when they didn’t add anything to the quality and flavor of the dessert, but none of us couldn’t eat it and it ended up in the trash. Disappointing at over £ 2 a slice.
Archie and Georgie were also out of luck as the dog menu consisted of a slice of bacon or sausage or a scoop of special peanut butter ice cream. I decided to bring them some ice cream, but unfortunately there was none left, so the boys went home outraged.
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The Beach Hut has some good things like the location, the friendly staff, the scones, their coffee and tea, and the well-spaced tables. There was a good buzz in the place and about half of the tables were occupied with what looked like regulars which is impressive for a Monday lunchtime.
The menu mentions that The Beach Hut hosts a pizza night every Thursday, describing the pizzas as being home-made and stone-baked. If the pizzas are as good as they look on the menu and add to a warm summer evening, a bottle of wine, friendly staff, and outdoor tables overlooking the Marina, guests have the make for an exceptional evening and would love to try The Beach Hut again for that.
The scarcity of real home cooked food available during our visit would not make us come back for lunch. However, it’s a great place to stop for a coffee and a scone and watch the seagulls ride on top of each other and the blue-green algae get terrifying.
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Have you eaten at Beach Hut? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.