Northcote Road, LANGHO, Blackburn, BB6 8BE
The Victorian manor house cocooned amid rolling acres on the edge of the Ribble Valley near Blackburn has steadily risen in the world since Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft invented it as a country hotel many years ago. In 2014, it was welcomed into the prestigious international Relais & Château group, which feels only right as the near 18 months of refurbishment and renovation the place has undergone has given the place a truly luxurious feel, with new guest rooms, a dedicated space for the cookery school and an updated restaurant. While the old fireplace and ornate mouldings are retained, the room has been extended, its various sections connected by arches, with windows looking out over the newly landscaped herb garden. Tables are smartly dressed and set with Riedel glassware, and staff maintain the deft, friendly, helpful tone that makes a visit to Northcote a pleasure. Lisa Allen's cooking has something to do with that too. After a period of maternity leave, she has returned with renewed creative energy, and the cooking is as assured as ever. Many claim to be celebrating localism these days, but the commitment to Lancashire produce that has always been the foundation of Haworth's vision here is one of blazing conviction. Much of the produce comes from Northcote's own extensive kitchen gardens, but regional game, seafood and the inimitable Lancashire cheese all feature prominently too. The five-course Gourmet Menu is designed to give a comprehensive illustration of the style. Smoked eel and Morecambe Bay shrimps are the stunning double-act in an opening take on Caesar salad, which is followed by another marine pairing, this time of salmon belly and tempura scallop with laverbread and an ozone-fresh array of sea greens. A bowl of clear Scotch broth with pearled veg and barley presents a logistical challenge that will need all your ingenuity with the cutlery to set about its piece of salt marsh lamb wrapped in puff pastry. The main course is sublime wheat-fed guinea-fowl breast with a casserole of the leg meat, damson prunes and clumps of rice. After a suitable pause, dessert looks over the county boundary for Yorkshire's incomparable rhubarb, which makes a regal setting for a white chocolate ball of vanilla custard, alongside a little rhubarb and ginger jelly. Superb cheeses come with home-made wafers and fruit and walnut loaf. Incidentals and in-betweenies are little masterpieces of ingenuity, such as the 'tumbleweed' canapé of a mushroom wrapped in kataifi pastry.
Tel: 01254 240555
Please quote 'The AA'.
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Dates closed: Food & Wine Festival
Sunday lunch available.
Cooking type: Modern British
Chef: Nigel Haworth, Lisa Allen
Number of seats: 70
Accessible for wheelchairs.
Vegetarian meals available.
A La Carte Dinner Main Course from: £28.00
Prices are for guidance only. Please check when booking for current rates.