Only a few years ago Lark Lane’s The Lodge was The Masonic, a grotty but characterful boozer not known for its cuisine.
Nowadays The Lodge is primarily known for its late opening hours of a weekend, where it transforms into the nearest thing south Liverpool has to a club. But during the day it’s a peaceful and pleasant pub that serves real ale and good food.
Shorn of its often terrible music choices and a hefty clientele there’s something of the country pub about it; its interior looks smart and impressively different during the day; while a welcoming smile and an array of real ale on offer always bodes well.
The IPA isn’t on, so we try a couple of tastes of different beer and choose a Wainwright. We sometime wonder about the quality of beer in suddenly-trends real ale pubs – do they know how to look after the various ales, bitters, milds and porters? – but we’ve never had a problem in the Lodge.
There’s a fearsomely large menu that contains a plethora of pub-grub favourites, frequently with a twist. Yes there are sandwiches and toasties and salads and Pieminsters and full Englishes – but it’s the likes of ham hock hash (£8), a home-made sausage roll (£3), pork and sage pie (£3) and an English cheese selection (£4) that catch the eye.
The various snacky items on the menu look promising too. Home-made pork scratchings and hummus and chiploatas and olives “on ice” signal that some thought has gone into the menu.
There’s a gammon and eggs special on at £7.95 that is tempting, but we go for the cheese selection, ham hock and a vegetarian Welsh rarebit (£4) and, a period of time later that suggests the food is cooked to order, are rewarded with three well-presented plates of food.
The ham hock hash (below, left) has some wonderfully salty, shredded ham among some mashed potato that’s lacking a bit of flavour. Some mustard mash would have worked better – and £8 is a little steep – but it’s tasty and hearty enough; a fried egg a good accompaniment.
The Welsh rarebit (above, right) is something of a letdown, the egg a bit on the hard side, the mushrooms and cheese somewhat lacking, but at four pounds beggars can’t be choosers.
The cheese selection (top) is absurdly generous; half a dozen slices of good bread and a mound of Wensleydale, brie and stilton. Great pub food to accompany good beer.
It’s unusual to find pub menus with such choice, especially at lunch, and it’s to be welcomed. It appears the Lodge isn’t happy to simply sit on the late-night beer fraternity, but to bring something else to the table; the thoughtful menu evidence of a chef who enjoys good food and is keen to try something new.
We commend it. For the beer, for the food, for the value, for the service, for the atmosphere. Real ale, real food.
The Lodge Ale House & Kitchen
32-34 Lark Lane