Introducing the refurbished Highwayman
Introducing the refurbished Highwayman and new Head Chef, Jason “Bruno” Birkbeck.
Ribble Valley Inn’s Highwayman Pub in Nether Burrow near Kirkby Lonsdale opened to critical acclaim in 2007 – scooping, amongst other things, the UK Pub Chef of the Year Award in 2009, and representing Nigel Haworth’s signature approach to real, local, seasonal food and premium pub dining experiences.
The Ribble Valley Inn group is small but perfectly formed, with 12 years experience, an enviable reputation and impressive string of plaudits to their name (all 4 of their original sites hold an AA Rosette and place in the Michelin Pub Guide). Industry heavyweights, Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft of the renowned fine dining restaurant Northcote in Lancashire, are the group’s founders. Their philosophy is simply to bring that same standard of excellent food and drink, using the very best quality, seasonal and local food, to a relaxed setting.
Now, after 7 successful years, the team decided it was time for a refresh of the premises, and to usher in a new chapter for the pub with the arrival of Head Chef Jason “Bruno” Birkbeck.
A Cumbria lad, hailing from Kendal, and originally learning his craft at Kendal Catering College, Jason (or Bruno as he is known in the industry) is making a return to his roots and settling down in the region with his wife (and former pastry chef) Emma, along with his little boy Oliver, and another addition to the family imminent!
Jason’s impressive career has taken him around the world with the cornerstone of his work though being in some of Scotland and the North of England’s most prestigious kitchens.
Training in Switzerland after graduating from college, Jason then returned to The Lake District, ‘cutting his teeth’ at Langdale Hotel and Country Club. Having progressed technically and creatively here, Jason then met Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft when they offered him a job at the Michelin-starred Northcote.
After a break to travel the world, Jason returned to Northcote where he worked under Nigel’s tutorage for 2 years, progressing to sous chef and winning the American Express UK Young Chef of the Year Award.
At this stage, highly experienced in fine dining cookery, Jason moved on to The Samling at Ambleside, where he was influential in their being awarded their first Michelin star.
His 2 and half-year stint at The Samling enhanced Jason’s reputation further and he then moved to the acclaimed Hipping Hall, as Head Chef, where he spent 4 and half years, helping them to develop their excellent reputation.
A post at prestigious luxury hotel and restaurant, The Torridon, in the Highlands of Scotland followed, where he spent another successful 4 and a half years before the arrival of his little boy led Jason back to his roots… This move back to Cumbria in turn brought Jason full circle as he was offered an opportunity by Nigel and Craig to develop his own menu at The Highwayman.
Despite Jason’s excellent fine dining pedigree, he has always aspired to run his own premium pub kitchen. His long-term mentorship with Nigel now means that he’s been able to realise this vision – his stellar experience allowing Nigel to hand over the reigns to Jason more fully than at his other Ribble Valley Inns.
“It’s been such an exciting journey so far, but my heart’s always been in this part of the world” comments Jason “I’ve stayed in touch with Nigel ever since Northcote – where he gave me my first opportunity to learn seriously about fine food. He’s always kept an eye on what I’m doing, and so for him to offer me this opportunity
not too far from where I grew up, now I’ve started my own family, is perfect. I’ve always wanted to run a food pub, despite all my fine dining training, and so The Highwayman represents, for me, the most exciting time of my career.”
Whilst the food at The Highwayman will retain the Ribble Valley Inn philosophy of excellent, local and seasonal ingredients, and quality over fanfare, Jason’s menu is unique to the group. This is Jason’s own, bespoke take on the Ribble Valley Inns’ values and standards.
A very special combination of the pub’s unique position on a ‘tri-county’ border (taking advantage of the best locally sourced ingredients from Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire); Jason’s signature, very individual, creative cookery style; and the classics that Ribble Valley Inns are famed for… this is a menu expected to put this premium food pub even more firmly on the map as a gastro destination.
Food producers starring on the menu include…
- Farm-reared beef from Kitridding Farm in Old Town, Near Kirkby Lonsdale.
- Smoked fish and meat from Lancaster Port Smokehouse in Lancaster.
- Game from Cartmel Valley Game in Cartmel.
- Poultry from Reg Johnson’s famous Johnson’s and Swarbrick’s Farm in the Ribble Valley.
- Cheeses from the best producers in all 3 of the counties…
Lancashire Cheese from JJ Sandham.
Yorkshire Cheese from Shepherd’s Purse Artisan Cheeses.
Cumbrian Cheese from Winter Tarn Organic Farm.
- Liqueurs from Strawberry Bank Liqueurs in the Lythe Valley.
The refurbishment has involved a £200K investment allowing for a refreshed interior. The highly acclaimed design agency Lister Carter were appointed to handle the refurbishment, which, as well as improving the general look and feel of the 18th century former coaching inn, features more comfortable surroundings for pre and post dining drinks.
The pub services 130 covers in total and still boasts a fabulous outdoor area for summer dining, as well as crackling fires for cosy dinners in the winter months.
Founder and Executive Chef for Ribble Valley Inns, Nigel Haworth commented:
“It’s an exciting time for The Highwayman. We’ve been working on this development behind the scenes for a while, and I’m really looking forward to unveiling what Bruno’s created here. It’s the first time I’ve handed over the reigns that bit more, and I’m really proud of what’s come out of this.”
The pub is open Monday – Saturday 12noon – 11pm, and Sunday 12noon – 10pm. Food will be served all day from lunch, through to ‘Afternoon Bites’ then dinner.
Burrow, Kirkby Lonsdale, LA6 2RJ
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