Having held a Michelin star since 1996, Northcote is widely regarded as one of the most consistent and successful restaurants in the country.
What Michelin say: ‘Elegant restaurant within a smart Victorian house. Refined, sophisticated cooking shows depth of flavour and a lightness of touch. Local and garden ingredients are the stars of the show. Watch the chefs in action from the glass-walled kitchen table or join them by taking part in one of the cookery classes.’
Since my last visit a couple of years back, they have had a major refurbishment and developed their onsite growing operations, with the garden now producing a seasonal supply of much that is served.
Chef Patron Nigel Haworth and Head Chef Lisa Allen have created a number of menus that celebrate the ‘great larder of Lancashire’ – as well as the A la carte, they offer a 4 or 5 course Gourmet Menu; the full Tasting Menu and the exceptional value Seasonal Lunch.
It was from the Seasonal Lunch that I made my choices. Starters and mains are priced at just £5 each and mains at £15 – 3 courses, including coffee, bread, canapés and petit fours can be enjoyed for just £28… amazing value for Michelin dining. (Being a greedy so and so, I naturally ordered an extra starter.)
Canapé: Onion Mousse with Onion Powder & Lancashire Cheese Wafers
Bread: Lancashire Cheese Rolls (Note the bespoke weaving shuttle used as a napkin holder, a great nod to the local cotton industries.)
Starter: Three Beets: Yellow, Red & Candy, Pickled Shallot Hearts, Horseradish, Herbs & Flowers – making good use of the finest produce from the gardens, this was a delightful dish. The pickled shallots hearts added a sharp hit of acidity to the dish and the horseradish jelly was suitably subtle.
Starter: Pressed Grouse, Partridge & Livers, Quince Jelly, Toast – I do love a good terrine and this was a good terrine. The quince and basil oil complemented well but I’d have appreciated a more substantial toast.
Main: Red Leg Partridge Pie, Black Peas, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Purée Potatoes – this was the sort of no nonsense main that may not visually meet everyone’s expectation of a Michelin starred main. Of course, the flavours within and the gravy were immense and the mash perfect.
Dessert: Orchard & Plum Artic Roll, Sorbet, Toasted Almonds – a beautiful dessert, a little more refined than those you’ll remember from school dinners.
Eccles Cake & Silver Needle White Tea (Yin Zhen) – great little Eccles Cake but, as is often the case (even in the best restaurants) and a regular gripe of mine, the tea was ruined with water that was far too hot; such a shame when places get a premium product in and show it little respect.
Northcote remains one of the North West’s finest restaurants – a must visit for lovers of refined yet hearty food.