Address: Grey Mare Inn. Grane Road, Belthorn, BB1 2PG.

Phone number: 01254 53308

Lancashire Telegraph review by Jemma Humphreys from October 4, 2009.

LAST time we went to The Grey Mare we couldn’t stop talking about the place.

It was known for being bustling, even on week nights, and the food was so lovely it stopped you in your tracks. It was everything you could want from a country pub and more.

And when it was suggested some friends and I meet up here again for tea I couldn’t wait.

I’m sorry to say I wasn’t so blown-away by my recent experience.

It seems The Grey Mare may have fallen victim of the credit crunch robbing it of its atmosphere and the quality of its grub. Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t like my memory.

When we arrived around 6pm, the place was in darkness and we were the first in the building. The waiting-on staff hadn’t arrived, so we had to sit at a table (which was dirty from the previous night) to wait for them.

But the menu still looked great. After much deliberation one friend opted for the vegetable lasagne, served with chips. It was a huge portion and enjoyed greatly.

Myself and another friend were tempted by the kleftiko. Sadly, we weren’t so impressed. It was too heavy on the potato and contained next to no lamb. I think they should leave this one to the Greeks.

I’m afraid we won’t be talking about the Grey Mare as much this time.

Bolton News review by Wes Wright from February 22, 2007.

THE Grey Mare at Belthorn looked a little different inside to when my wife and I last visited it 21 years ago, but there was the same intimate, friendly atmosphere.

On that occasion, we enjoyed a drink on our first date. This time we returned for a meal with one of our two children to fill in time while our daughter was at a party in the nearby village of Belthorn.

The pub is a decent distance to go just for pub grub. To get to The Grey Mare from Bolton you can either go through Darwen, on the M65 for a couple of minutes and come off on Belthorn Road, or take the picturesque seven-mile route along Broadhead Road to the junction at the end on which the pub stands.

It is a lonely, lightless road, and a scary one in the kind of thick fog that reduced visibility to around 10 metres on the Saturday night we went. It was well worth the effort once we got inside.

Being traditionally the busiest night of the week for dining, we were worried we would not be able to get a table. We arrived at 8pm and were told we would have to wait for 40 minutes for a table.

That wasn't a problem with a couple of pints of tasty Thwaites Lancaster Bomber, at £2.30 a go, to prepare the taste buds.

While we were at the bar, the waiting time for a table increased to an hour for the customers who continued to flood in, none of whom were put off by the long wait.

A glance at the menu on the bar gave an inkling as to why the Grey Mare is a thriving concern. On its front page it boasts that the pub has been in the Good Beer Guide and the Catering Pub of the Year for the last three years, as well as winning a Pub in Bloom in 2004 for good measure.

The bar staff are friendly, helpful and courteous which gives a favourable first impression. And while the beer is varied and first class, the pub is predominantly an eating house.

There is a large square room at one end of the bar and a long, thin stretch on which there were tables on both sides.

We had been warned that it can become thick with smoke inside but, thankfully, we had a smoke-free night mainly due to there being scarcely any people smoking in the pub at all and helped by the fact that we were deep into non-smoking territory at the end of the thin room.

The simple paper menus offer a choice which is just varied enough without being over-complicated.

It has five headings: appetisers (with a choice of 10), vegetarian (choice of three), fish dishes (choice of five), flame grilled (choice of six) and chef's specials (choice of 12). Be prepared for another reasonable wait once your order has been taken as the chefs are overworked and evidently take pride in cooking everything properly from fresh produce.

My wife and I started with the breaded mushrooms at £2.90, which were plentiful and delicious dipped in the accompanying garlic mayonnaise, while my nine-year-old son had the garlic bread, flat-bread style, at £2 which I was grateful to be given a slice in return for a garlic mushroom.

The most expensive starter on the menu was the prawn platter at £3.95, while the homemade soup was £2.50, and the average price was just under the £3 mark.

The most common price for the main courses is £6.95 and there are six more at £5.95 while the top price is £9.95 for the sirloin surf and turf and the mixed grill. I opted for the chicken peri peri, at £ 6.95, which came with a warning that it is a "very very hot dish with fresh chillies".

But, don't worry, it is not, although it was tasty with its rice accompaniment. My wife was equally impressed with the scampi at a pound cheaper which came with just enough chips to satisfy her and leave a few for me.

It was a good job as well, because my son wasn't in the mood for giving away any of his equally plentiful and delicious chips that came with his quarter pounder cheese burger which was full value at £4.25.

Along with two bottles of orange at £1.70 each, two half pints of lager at £1.20 each and two pints at £2.30 each, the bill came to a total of £37.65 and was worth every penny.

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