Located up on Chorley Old Road; the Old Forge is a new, intimate dining room that has opened alongside The Bob Smithy pub – they’ve knocked through into the next door cottage to create 34 covers and a kitchen to boot.
The Old Forge is a buzzy little place with the added bonus of not being far from home, plus the view from Chorley Old Road is spectacular on your drive up. The attached pub, the Bob Smithy has some fantastic local ales on tap, that you can also sup in the dining room if you fancy.
Once a favourite pub of ours, we’d stopped going as we felt it had lost a bit of charm, but we’d heard there was a fancy new look and food being served, so we bobbed along after a bad day at school. T’boy and I were lucky to bag the last table by the door in the new dining room, or in fact anywhere, as the whole place was heaving (the busiest we’ve seen it in a very long time) and more people were piling in as we settled down.
The dining room is small and has been decked out in greens and browns, creating a warm and cosy atmosphere without being overbearing or claustrophobic. The rest of the pub has had a little makeover too – very considerate in muted creams, which seems to have put the heart back in the pub whilst bringing it up to date.
Service was very friendly from the young team, if somewhat a little chaotic and forgetful; but they were all too pleased to help and ferried back and forth to the kitchen to find out the answers to all our questions.
T’boy had a special of duck leg on chickpeas with beetroot reduction; the duck perfectly cooked, sweetly salty and gloriously sticky with an earthy undertone from the syrupy beetroot. The dish could have done with some extras other than just the chickpeas as there was an enormous and rather over facing amount of these.
My dish of pan fried sea bass and cous cous was a big disappointment and was very confused. The fish was not pan fried at all, but seemed to be steamed and was sat atop some very bland and extremely soggy cous cous – an ode to wetness that wasn’t offset by anything else on the plate. There was a sort of save from a zesty pineapple salsa and drizzle of curry oil – however there was only a woeful amount of these and neither sat well with the fish.
It’s obvious a lot of care has been taken with the redecoration and rebranding of The Bob Smithy, it’s a family business and there’s a lot of personality and love in the re-vamp. Scanning over the menu it seems that The Old Forge is being pushed along the gastropub route (with prices to match), unfortunately it’s not quite there yet – hopefully over time the food will refine to match the prices they’re charging.
Price for two mains and two pints (both t’boy’s!) – £40.40
Food – 6/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value for money – 6/10
Total – 27/40
Go again – Yes to give them another chance to see if they get over their teething problems, but for the quality you get at the moment it’s too expensive and I can pay the same price for better food at The Chetham Arms or Suzanna’s, both of which are also just down the road.
Ps Sorry for the lack of photos, had no battery on my phone!
The Old Forge at The Bob Smithy, 144 Chorley Old Road, Horwich, Bolton BL1 7PX – 01204 842622 – Twitter