You'll find many of the North West's best restaurants in the land of the red rose. These are our favourites...
Today, Tuesday the 27th of November 2018, is Lancashire Day. So to celebrate this momentous day in the calendar of Red Rose land we've done what we do best, by sitting down and thinking about food.
Below you'll find a list of our favourite places to eat in Lancashire, from a quirky gastropub to a two Michelin-starred manor house.
Moor Hall - Aughton
Michelin magic from Mark Birchall in a historic country setting. Mark Birchall, ex-head chef at L’Enclume is chef-patron of this outstanding one Michelin star, 4 AA Rosette restaurant with rooms. The large, Grade II-listed manor house in this flat and lush part of the country dates back to the 14th century and its located in acres of ground that takes in a country garden, lake, kitchen gardens and a whole lot more. Everything is British or grown on site – which is no massive claim to fame these days, but when you think of Birchall’s pedigree, expect the best. Appetisers could include black pudding with pickled apple, smoked curd, tiny baskets of fermented garlic and flowers, and an oyster dish, that tastes (and looks) as remarkable as a rock pool. Aged beef in charcoal is Birchall’s classic ‘main’ from the eight (plus) course tasting menu, while desserts could include a layered apple creation, topped with apple mead rocks and aged caramel or the most gingery ice cream topped with a regional classic – shards of frozen gingerbread – and served in a hand-carved wooden bowl. And don’t forget the dedicated cheese room, stocked with the Courtyard Dairy and Neal’s Yard’s finest.
Moor Hall, Prescot Rd, Aughton, Ormskirk L39 6RT
The Freemasons - Wiswell
Cooking goes from strength to strength at this adventurous food pub. Roaring fires, cast-iron fireplaces and pictures of fantastically proportioned livestock lend a cosy vibe to the renovated cottages which make up what’s often been described as the original gastro pub. But don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a static operation. Following a relaunch in 2009, traditional cask conditioned ales from the region’s finest breweries are served alongside over 250 international wines. Norfolk quail with truffle and hoisin sauce is a typical starter followed by crispy suckling pig belly with sticky pork cheek and ‘black pudding Paul Heathcote’ or venison, smoked over pine from Wiswell Moor, balanced against pear and Stilton. Steven Smith’s menu sees powerful flavours handled with ease. Pairings of Yorkshire rhubarb with duck egg custard or orange and vanilla rice pudding don’t drop the baton at dessert. Expect something really special.
8 Vicarage Fold, Wiswell, Clitheroe BB7 9DF
The White Swan - Fence
Some folk in the village stlll refer to it as “The Mucky Duck’ and you can still order a pint of Timothy Taylor’s at its very pubby bar but over the past three years the Swan has established itself as a destination fine dining spot thanks to 20something chef Tom Parker. From up the road in Burnley, at 16 he begged a start at at Michelin-starred Northcote, becoming a protégé of Lisa Allen and scooping a Young Chef of the Year award. That prodigious talent is evident throughout the short menus here, which change daily on the back of produce turning up on his doorstep. Maybe you’ll get a blob of luscious, home-smoked mash atop a seared fillet of Longhorn or a lobster raviolo, one large pasta parcel encasing the sweetest claw meat, matched by equally sweet butternut squash puree. A five course £45 tasting menu is the perfect introduction to a Swan on song. Though you might struggle to bag a seat in the next twelve months or so, following their newly acquired Michelin star
300 Wheatley Ln Rd, Fence, Burnley BB12 9QA
Parker’s Arms - Newton-In-Bowland
Homely pub, serving and baking extraordinary, modern European food. This tastefully renovated pub and restaurant has everything the worldly gourmand could desire, with none of the faff and pretension that usually comes with that title. Wines and beers are plucked from the world’s finest makers while food is served in the clean lines of the restaurant and woody bar. The menu changes often and could include organic salmon croquettes with pea mayonnaise or a Portuguese-style wild garlic custard tart, rump of Bowland beef or Morcambe Bay megrim sole. Homemade pies (Lancashire cheese and potatoe, roast chicken and creamed garlic, with chicken fat pastry) are another strength. With pastries, ice creams, bread, chutneys and more made on site, dessert sees familiar faces pulled off with aplomb. Eccles cakes, vanilla custard, home-made curds and damson compote are just a few examples. A wonderful place to come and recharge the batteries, in one of the country’s overlooked corners.
Hall Gate Hill, Newton-In-Bowland, Nr Clitheroe BB7 3DY
Northcote - Langho
This elegant dining room is where chef-patron, Nigel Haworth, earned his stripes as an instigator of contemporary British fine dining. Today, Michelin star chef and one of BBC2’s Great British Menu winners, Lisa Allen, heads up the kitchen. Expect a roving, regional smorgasbord, tempered with classic techniques and contemporary flavours. Things have changed on the looks front and following a huge cash injection, the surroundings are light and sumptuous (think lambwool, leather and soft lighting) which is part of the allure – not least to Michelin inspectors. The tasting menu could include aged venison with blood orange and roasted yeast, or a slow-cooked pulled egg with aged sour cream. Charred monkfish with garden parsley or wagyu oyster blade and smoked mustard are the stuff special occasions are made of. Desserts don’t let the side down; Eccles cake soufflé with tea ice cream, or Allen’s magical take on apple pie with caramelised milk. There’s a private dining room sponsored by Louis Roederer and the cellar, complete with some exceptional New World options, is fit for the pickiest of tasters. Bottles are hand-picked by Northcote co-founder and expert sommelier, Craig Bancroft.
Northcote Road, Langho, Blackburn BB6 8BE
The Cartford Inn - Little Eccleston
This historic coaching house serves adventurous British pub food in poetic configurations. Cooking is by mushroom forager and head chef, Chris Bury, whose CV includes the Fat Duck and Claridges, while award-winning suppliers include local wine merchants, D Byrne and Gornall’s dairy, near Preston. Snails with ‘Nduja mayo, Bury black pudding doughnuts or seared lamb’s heart with red peppercorns to start, followed by Goosnargh duck breast with pickled, green strawberries, rump of local lamb with sorrel pesto and sticky oxtail and real ale suet pudding are typical dishes. Dessert, meanwhile, could be homemade cherry Bakewell tart with fresh thyme and homemade vanilla ice cream or something decadently chocolatey, with poached blackcurrants and smoked whey. The interior, some of which dates back to the 1800s, is packed with wood panels and idiosyncratic artworks while the wider complex takes in glass-clad extensions, an al fresco terrace, and cool, eco-style cabins, integrated into the landscape. A place to get away from it all for a day, or a night – and enjoy some of the best food in the region at the same time.
The Cartford Inn, Cartford Lane, Little Eccleston, PR3 0YP
Baratxuri - Ramsbottom
Is Ramsbottom in Lancashire? No. Well it used to be, and it's close enough for us. Basque enclave, Baratxuri, is the second Ramsbottom-based bar and restaurant from Joe and Fiona Botham. A spin-off from their business importing high-quality Spanish raw materials, including aged beef from Galician dairy cows, Baratxuri follows the success of their first venture, Levanter, which is just around the corner (and also in the top 100). Sourcing and perfectly cooked meat and fish are at the heart of the operation with a menu that includes bar-top pintxos, raciones (whole, shell on prawns cooked in garlic, or baked Catalan brie with a home-dried tomato tapenade) and a short ‘asado’ or wood-fired roasted meats menu. This could include a quarter of milk-fed lamb, Txuleton rib steak, Jacobs Ladder or octopus leg, all served whole and carved at the table with piles of roast potatoes and buttery ham and cabbage. Look out for pintxos such as Txistorra (a sausage roll encasing piquant chorizo) or Txangurro a la Donastiana a pimento-rich spider crab tartlet (a signature dish of San Sebastian) making their way from the open plan kitchen.
1 Smithy St, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 9AT
The Peacock Room - Bamford
Adventurous modern fine dining in grand, Victorian surrounds. The Peacock Room shimmers with the flounce and frill of old school presentation yet the menu is far from dated under recently appointed head chef, Scott Evans. Taking in cuts from the restaurant’s own butchery, crisp British flavours are evident across the board with starters such as scallops with pheasant ham and game broth, or terrine of chicken and ham hock with pineapple and spring onion. Clever mains follow, along the lines of pan fried fillet of gilt head bream with smoked potato fritter, grilled broccoli, chervil root puree and crayfish sauce. Tasteful yet bold desserts could include passion fruit crème brulee or Black Forest parfait, with Morello cherry sorbet. Boutique Aussie wines are a feature of the wine list in a setting that’s pure Victorian fantasy.
Crimble Lane, Bamford, Rochdale, Lancashire OL11 4AD
Nutters - Norden
Chef-patron, Andrew Nutter cooks in a huge, gothic-feeling 18th century manor house overlooking Ashworth Moors. The restaurant’s previous Addams-family aesthetic of mahogany and red velvet has since given way to a more tasteful monochrome, while in the kitchen, Nutter has largely stuck to his contemporary European guns. Trends across the menu include Asian aspects and flavours in dishes like pork belly ‘China Town’ with a coriander and lime leaf dressing or crispy black pudding wontons. Of late Nutter has veered towards more contemporary British themes too; Goosnargh duck leg confit with gingered pasty, piccalilli and snow pea salad, for example, or seared wild seabass with pig’s cheek, sautée samphire and butternut squash. Caramelised lime tart with Nutter’s favourite tipple Grey Goose vodka and ginger beer sorbet is a typically explosive ending. Andrew’s dad Rodney was chief sommelier and Nutters still boasts one of the finest cellars in the area.
Edenfield Rd, Rochdale OL12 7TT
Yu and You - Copster Green
Established, upscale Chinese restaurant, Yu and You, serves British favourites and house inventions in the heart of the Ribble Valley. Choose from crispy duck pancakes, steamed pak choi with oyster sauce, Singapore vermicelli noodles – and so on – or opt for one of the much-loved house specials. The wok-seared Wagyu beef with sweet soya, lime, garlic and ginger won ‘best Chinese dish’ in Gordon Ramsay’s Best Restaurant TV show in 2011, while Charlie Yu’s 12-hour chicken curry has its own fan base. Family plays a strong role in the operation; the restaurant was founded by Yu himself and it’s now run by his sons, Victor and Vinny who’ve maintained his commitment to excellent customer service as well as expanding the bar, cocktail and wine lists. The result is an elegant restaurant that feels as relevant as ever.
500 Longsight Road, Copster Green, Blackburn BB1 9EU
Produced in partnership with the Top 100 Restaurants in the North West guide.