Star cooking within reach of the (ever so slightly more) many
WE’RE realists here in Liverpool.
So instead of the annual hand wringing over why the city is yet to achieve its first Michelin star, every October we look across the water and check to see if the stellar light shining down on Oxton’s tiny Fraiche is still on. It is.
Ditto as we crane our necks and lean a little further towards the Dee where Michelin continues to send one star love in the direction of Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor. Just as it has since time immemorial.
And the world keeps turning and the Mersey restaurant trade continues to thrive, for better, for worse and the occasional bit of special.
Now, however, over in another outpost of Merseyrail network, Ormskirk, a third starry switch has been flicked - and this time, if you like, you’re more likely to be able to see for yourself what all the Michelin hoo-ha is about.
Moor Hall, near Aughton, which opened just seven months ago, has been awarded its first star by one of the mystery band of men and women left to wander the hinterland with only a Saveaway.
With chef/patron Mark Birchall (ex L’Enclume) in charge, it would have been more of a surprise if Michelin had passed it by. Still, this ringing, early phew moment for the chef, his team and the backers, might be seen as a pointer greater things to come and stars lining up.
But never mind all that. From where you, dear reader, are standing - and that should be on Platform Two for the Northern Line, it means that with 50 covers (as opposed to Fraiche’s eight to 12, booked out many, many months in advance), you are a darned sight be more likely to be in with a chance of sampling Michelin standard cooking on your own manoir for the first time.
But don't all turn up at once, without a booking, like.
Last month, Devon-born Michelin starred chef Anton Piotrowski, announced he was opening up in Liverpool and that he fully intended to bring three stars to his operation, Roski, which will begin trading next month in what was Puschka - one of the city's most highly cited restaurants.
He told Liverpool Confidential that it was "do-able," but, conversely, went on to say that restaurants aspiring for Michelin glory should first be cooking for their customers and not for "a little red book".
Meanwhile, back up in Aughton, and speaking of manors, there is delight, celebration and possibly mead-swilling at Moor Hall, a 16th century Jacobean jobbie, fully restored into a restaurant with rooms.
"Chef/patron Mark Birchall has created a menu of impeccably sourced British ingredients, many from the bounty of local suppliers, and he leads a distinctive kitchen brigade and front-of-house team that share his hospitality ethos of relaxed professionalism", it says here.
Birchall said of the Michelin news: “It has been a tremendous team effort. We are a young business, but our chefs and front-of-house staff have remarkable backgrounds and experience that has come together to make Moor Hall very focused on delivering a special customer experience.”
He also paid tribute to his business partners, Tracey and Andy Bell, who had the confidence to support the massive restoration project of Moor Hall, and to endorse his culinary vision for the restaurant.
Moor Hall is also in the final stages of preparation for the launch of The Barn, in the adjacent building to the main house – it will open on 25th October with a more informal daily lunch and dinner menu offering.
Maybe one of Liverpool Confidential’s team will get to review it. Time to buy that Saveaway.
*Moor Hall Prescot Road, Aughton, West Lancashire L39 6RT. Reservations – 01695 572511 Website.