Posted 02 August 2009 - 07:33 AM
The care taken by the staff was first shown in the lounge as we sipped our drinks and nibbled canapés. One of the managers came to check that we were having the tasting menu and then presented us with our own individual cards. I say individual and I mean individual, in that my wife’s differed from mine in that she’d previously notified the restaurant that she cannot eat egg. The changes to the “standard” dish were confirmed to her as well. Good start.
The first starter was the Great British Menu duck dish. A pot with a bottom layer of duck jelly, topped with chicken mousse and a final topping of a broad bean puree. Alongside a little packet of duck scratchings and a couple of slices of duck ham. The contents of the pot tasted lighter than I expected from watching the TV and, of course, tasted more of chicken and broad bean than duck. There was good bread that was offered throughout the meal.
Second starter of beef tartare, carpaccio of cauliflower and a cauliflower cream. This was OK – a bit underwhelming in itself. However, on a separate plate, a slice of toast topped with marrowbone and capers made up for any insipidness. This was flavour overload – soft marrow, salty caper, crunchy toast.
Tomato consommé came next. And this was the first really stand-out dish. A very clear consommé, tasting just of tomato as you hope tomato will taste. In the bottom of the bowl, some herbs and what is described as “tomato caviar” (in fact, little balls of tomato jelly, coloured black with squid ink).
Another TV dish – Muncaster crab salad, egg (although not for my wife) with English mustard mayo. Little to be said here – it was crab and egg salad with mayo.
The final introductory dish was the one that worked least well. Marinated scallops, sliced very thin, with a scattering of pea and broad bean. The dressing was ginger based and completely overpowered whatever delicate flavour the scallops may have had. It just meant they were just some “white stuff” in the bottom of the bowl.
The Lancashire hot pot then arrived. As mentioned earlier, we’d made a special request for this. The “standard” main course would have been a small slice of lamb loin, which fitted with the tasting menu. As it was, we were now eating a substantial meal. But needs must – this was a great dish. Although great care must have been taken to source the ingredients and even greater care to cook them, this was a Lancashire hotpot my mother would have recognised. It had not been cheffed about with. Just top quality meat, crispy potatoes, good stock. Alongside, some baby leeks and carrots. Working much less well was the pickled red cabbage which, like an earlier dish, had seen a heavy hand with the spicing – this time with cloves.
And that brought us to dessert – summer pudding and Lancashire cheese ice cream. As with the judging on the Great British Menu, we weren’t keen on the ice cream. It had neither a taste of cheese nor the “luxury taste” of good ice cream. It was just odd. But I still ate mine and most of my wife’s. But the summer pudding was spot on for taste – packed with currants giving the much needed sharpness.
We had coffee and petits fours back in the lounge. The meal was a bit of the curate’s egg – the consommé and the hotpot being standout “WOW” dishes; others being “less than WOW”. As part of an overnight package, this was an enjoyable meal. But, in truth, I’m not sure how I would felt if I’d just gone for dinner and paid the £75 asking price.
Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:42 AM
I had a very similar experience and did indeed use the term "curate's egg" when describing the meal to a friend who had only eaten at Mr. Haworth's pubs (The Three Fishes and the Highwayman) but never at Northcote Manor.
The meal was a bit of the curate’s egg – the consommé and the hotpot being standout “WOW” dishes; others being “less than WOW”. As part of an overnight package, this was an enjoyable meal. But, in truth, I’m not sure how I would felt if I’d just gone for dinner and paid the £75 asking price.
I was initially a bit perplexed as to why the Hotpot was pre-order only, I'd have thought that it was enough of a draw to have featured as a regular menu item, but I was pleased that this fact was brought to my attention when booking because otherwise I'd have been mightily disappointed on arrival.
Your review was pretty much spot on although I personally disliked the texture of the contents of the duck, chicken and bean kilner jar intensely. Conversely, If I'd been served a double portion of the scratchings and plenty of duck ham to eat with the excellent bread I'd have been a very happy man.
I endorse wholeheartedly the rest of your comments. Given that I regularly eat the Ascroft cauliflowers because he sells to Booths I thought my reaction to the carpaccio was merely a case of familiarity breeding a feeling of "meh", so I'm pleased that others agree. Also "caviars" seem to have become a feature of his menus, I had a langoustine, salmon and leek dish very recently with a lemon caviar that popped and jiggled on the tongue like a pixie advertising breakfast cereal.
The hotpot, however, was the standout dish, It was, and I speak as someone who has had at least fifty different hotpots all over Lancashire ranging from "manky hotput supper" grade to "posh", the apotheosis of hotpot. It was as if my nan had one magical day been assisted at the cooker by Jesus. It was relatively pricey (£42 for a hotpot for two if memory serves) but I'm pretty certain that now no other hotpot will live up to that one.
I'm also sure that with the Lancashire Cheese ice cream there's an absolutely fantastic idea trapped within a fairly average plate of summer pudding and ice cream. I'm not a good enough cook to make recommendations to someone of Mr. Haworth's skill but I feel that if he made it truly cheesy and savoury then the acidity and depth of flavour would make it an outstanding partner for something else, I'm just not sure what. He seems to excel at the more "manly" dishes (like the hotpot and the "selection of meats on a log" that he serves at the Three Fishes) rather than the more effete salads and puddings so I'm sure he'll figure something out.
Posted 10 November 2010 - 03:22 PM
Not been here for quite some time, it was to eat Nigel's Great British Menu, cooked by Lisa Allen, who chatted to us after the meal. I intended to write the meal up but as is sometimes the case, other stuff just seems to crop up. Still whilst this is hot in my mind, I shall try to make amends.
As November is a quiet month in the restaurant business, they have an excellent value lunch offer, which has a voucher saving of £5 per person on the already good value lunch. Its here . With the voucher the meal becomes superb value at £20 for three courses and coffee is thrown in too. For me this has to be top spot in the UK, as apart from Michael Caines Abode, where the portions are smaller, and the Arbutus, Wild Honey, Les Deux Salons group not much else gets close. We are of course in the North West so nothing remotely close can compare, given the high quality. So London apart this gets my vote.
We had an amuse of Goats cheese mousse topped with tomato powder, with home made Lancashire cheese crisps in the lounge whilst choosing what to eat.
There are three choices at each course but you can, presumably eat just one, two ,or three as they are priced at £4.50, £13.50 and £4.50.
Bread was temptingly presented with good choice of white, brown, onion, and cheese. Minus two which my wife plated before I had decided to take a photo.
A bottle of Crianza on the crisp white linen table.
Crispy Chilli Squid sat on a mound of pureed avocado, wispy bits of spring and red onion and tiny flecks of red chilli ran through the tower.
Mrs G,s Cockerham Goat Faggot sounded like an insult, it was not, far from it, it was a massive compliment, and was gob smackingly tasty. A good helping of sauce to wash the creamy mashed potato and faggot down, helped no end. It was artfully topped with parsnip crisps. Villeroy and Boch plates show the food off to great effect, this is a wonderful design.
We shared the next dish, an extra course, which we added to our meal.Monkfish Roasted on the bone, and all the better for it of course, getting more flavour into the fish. Potato cake topped with a clove of roasted garlic and caramelised shallots lay to the side, "garden" savoy cabbage ( and bacon ) was presumably from their own garden. A classic and plentiful sauce held it all together.
Bread wrapped Sika Deer mulled baby leeks, beetroot, and black cabbage was for the lady.
This was a complex dish that I only had a couple of mouthfuls of (shame that) We both thought it to be wonderful. It had my beloved puy lentils in it too. I must mention the beetroot, it went great with the dish, and again perhaps fresh from the garden. Bags of flavour.
More my kind of dish than the wifes Slow cooked Bowland Beef Cheek was a blacky, brown hunk of flaky beef, perfectly cooked and seasoned ( as all of the dishes were ). This tower of strength was built on Saltbaked Swede, and annexed by another tower of smoked marrowbone topped creamy mashed potato holding up some caramelised shallot.
Lots going on in my dessert Scotch Bridgets Apple and Toffee Sundae. Too much perhaps, it was intricate and intriguing, the meringue was crisp and I liked the ginger biscuit, but my teeth were slightly on edge with the sorbet.
In truth I fancied my wifes dessert Creamy Rice Pudding, toffee, quince, toasted hazelnuts, but ever the gentleman I let her choose first and though it would be a shame not to try the other dessert as I like to give a better picture of what is on offer. Don't get me wrong both were good, and on tasting the other halfs one I did not change my mind.
We had a couple of coffees and a baby eccles cake each (which were included in the price)
This meal was a very pleasant way to while away a few hours, its not local to us, mores the shame, because for £20, food of this standard needs appreciative customers and we are certainly that.
The offer runs until the end of the month, take advantage while you can.
Service was good, friendly and efficient. We had a fine table in the large bay window overlooking the garden.
As has been mentioned we had an extra course and a bottle of wine so this pushed the bill up a bit. No service is levied, we paid £75 plus a tip of £10, but you could if you were mean and had tap water have a meal for two for £40.
Incredible really for food of this standard.
Posted 10 November 2010 - 04:25 PM
Posted 10 November 2010 - 04:52 PM
Seems they run these offers fairly regularly, all the better for we foodies.
Posted 11 November 2010 - 04:00 AM
Edited by MacD, 11 November 2010 - 04:01 AM.
Posted 02 March 2011 - 03:25 PM
1, Dips in the lounge
2, Goats cheese / Beetroot salad and Treacle salmon with morecambe bay shrimps.
3, Roasted Mackerel / Beetroot and Wild wood pigeon , wild mushrooms , fondant potato
4, Manchester tart with coconut ice cream and Pineapple roasted , macerated and Eccles cake ice cream
5, Coffee and Eccles cakes.
Posted 19 May 2011 - 02:52 AM
In truth I had another reason for dining that day, having treated myself to a new Nikon camera. I wanted to see how it compared with my almost new Canon. The one that my wife pointed out seemed to be a bit of a waste of money especially now that I had bought another one.
I fancied the Northcote selection most, but having secured a table was informed that the menus were to be changed that day. No worries, I could go with that. Lisa Allen was in the kitchen and I knew I was in good hands.
We chose the remarkably good value seasonal menu, which had a downloadable voucher giving £5 per person discount of the £26 price. Stunning value, especially as it includes coffee and mini eccles cakes.
We were served a dip of fresh from their garden, pea mousse with some crispy cheesy straws.
Bread was good with a choice of four, I chose the cheese and an onion variation of the same.
My wifes starter read well, Goosnargh Chicken Ravioli, wild mushrooms, Truffle and crispy skin. It read perhaps a bit better than it tasted, the flavours being a bit muted according to her. I had a taste and it seemed not too bad to me, perhaps not hitting any high notes though.
I was looking forward to my oriental influenced starter of Treacle cured Salmon, pickled ginger, coriander and beansprouts.We have had a decent bit of Salmon recently and I was eager to see how this compared.
It ate rather well, especially with the treacle cure, and was topped with some crispy Langoustines, which were to appear in another dish that we were about to try also. The forest of micro herbs added interest. The little zingy hits of pickled ginger, and the spring onion added another dimension to the dish, but the salmon was the star.
We took the next course as an extra main, which we split at the table. It would have been easier if we were given a small plate each to eat from, instead of having to eat only from the main plate in the centre of the table.
Slow cooked Wester Ross Salmon, crispy Langoustines, cauliflower and chervil (£14).
We were both slightly disappointed with this dish. The salmon was decent, however it appeared unseasoned and as such it was not allowed to shine. It sat on a bed of spinach which was well seasoned, and this helped it along a bit. The crispy skin added a bit of visual, but really did not taste of much at all.
I chose the manly sounding Fillet and Cheek of Gloucester Old Spot Pork, Tomato and pod vegetables, Smoked Jowl.
I did not get any smokeyness from the Jowl, although in fairness i was not looking for any.
We ate Pork fillet at home the previous night with a peppercorn sauce, thats why my wife chose another dish. I wanted to compare the fillet, and ours was surprisingly more tender and equally as tasty. So no premium prices for Gloucester Old Spot for me then.
Don't get me wrong the dish was very enjoyable with plenty of flavour, each bit on the plate doing their bit.
We had for me, what seemed to be a decent bottle of Argentinean Malbec (£24.50) Although wine is not my forte, I do know what I like, and I liked this.
Rib of Rose English Veal, Formby Asparagus, Crushed Jersey Royals, Tarragon. sounds like a shopping list for a posh dinner party. This was my wife's choice and bless her she seemed to enjoy it. Immersed in my dish, I had a quick taste but as it did not appeal to me in the first place, I did not pay too much attention to make a fair comment.
Desserts next, and ever the gentleman I let my wife choose first and she chose my second choice dessert, (we normally choose the same dishes).
Lemon Posset, Raspberries, Raspberry sorbet, Shortbread and tarragon.
This arrived in a cute dish which was curved at the top and reminded me of a periscope. Digging deep inside, was a bed of tangy bittersweet Posset, covered by a jelly? I enjoyed it more than my wife, not surprising really, as she is not really a fruit lover, whereas I am. Note the fried tarragon leaves. I did not get to try the shortbread, as my wife had scoffed it before I got chance. Needless to say, nothing wrong with that then.
Finally my dessert Strawberry Jelly, Garden Mint Parfait, Honeycomb, Strawberry Granita. Now this was right up my street. Quite a bit of the produce for the meal was local and indeed from their own garden. The strawberries were not, its too early in good old Lancs, even though like the rest of the country they have been blessed with some good weather. I enjoyed the honeycomb. It took me back to my Cadbury's Crunchie days, minus the chocolate of course. I enjoyed the different textural elements of the dish. The mint was refreshing and the "soup" good also.
We finished the meal with coffee and baby eccles cakes, and reflected on a jolly good two and a half hours of fun at the table. Some of the comments may seem negative, however the more we eat out, the more we know what we find enjoyable and not so enjoyable.
It is stonking value for money and we would recommend anyone passing through to seek out and give this place a try. We live about an hour and a half away by car and will return in due course the next time the menu changes.
Three course seasonal menu including an extra main course @ £14, a bottle of wine, amuse, coffee and eccles cakes and service charge @10% about £88.
I thank you.
Posted 22 November 2011 - 11:43 AM
Start's with Claude Bosi on the 23rd, Bryn Williams, Madalene Bonvini-Hamel & Lisa Allen, Simon Rimmer, Hans Neuner, Michael Smith, Aktar Islam, Tom Kerridge, Antonin Bonnett and finally Nigel Haworth.
More info on the northcote website
Posted 29 March 2012 - 01:49 PM
This time we did get fed.
We ate from the lunch menu and each added a half portion of turbot from the main menu. Lunch with coffee costs about £26 and you can get a £5 discount from the website or if you are on the mailing list.
First starter was treacle cured salmon topped with salad shoots and beansprouts. It looked nice, tasted ok, not too cold. I only tried a little. I have made this a couple of times and the original tasted very similar to mine.
I ordered a duck and chicken liver parfait with mead jelly and duck crackling. It was served it a slightly odd dish, a sort of bent porcelain tube that made eating and seeing the food more difficult than necessary. It was quite nice. Boozy from the mead and additional booze in the parfait. It was perhaps more wet than I expected but nice enough. The duck crackling was good.
Next came the half portions of turbot. This was on the menu at about £15. The fish was served with a little mashed potato, half a smoked shallot and some more dried crisp shallot, a little like an onion sail. It was finished with beurre rouge. It was enjoyable although lacking any real star quality; I had high hopes as I like turbot a lot. It is a good way to use up the tail filets.
For main I chose pork fillet. It was served with mashed potato and broccoli and the star of the show a little fried piggy nugget of probably trotter or cheek. The fillet was bland compared the gooey meatiness of the nugget. Again it was fine but without any wow.
Better was a plateful of veal kidneys. I only tried a little of this but what I tried was meaty and delicately offaly. This was the best dish of the day.
Desserts; I ordered roast pineapple and raisin ice cream / frozen raisin thing. It wasn’t ice cream - I am not sure what it was called. The roast pineapple was a cube of about an inch or so and warm, it was sat on a slice of raw pineapple. The raisin ice cream thing was sliced like Swiss roll. It was not as good as other desserts I have had here.
The other dessert was a rhubarb trifle. Again it was perfectly nice but lacking the extra required in elevating the good to the very good. Something I could have made at home was the verdict.
We ended with coffee and Eccles cakes.
I don’t think I have been since the dining room was redecorated and additional tables added. There are too many tables in my opinion. It is a squeeze for the staff at times and some of the tables are now too close. The dining room was full so there is clearly demand but I am not sure that the kitchen can keep up with the dining rooms. (There is also a private dining room, although I don’t know if this was open on this occasion).
We arrived early and waited about twenty/thirty minutes past our reservation time to be shown to our table on this occasion. It did cross my mind to ask to go directly to our table on arrival but they like you to relax in the lounge with the menus and drinks so if you book for one thirty they suggest you arrive at one, but then you have to wait. It is a shame as I have enjoyed a number of meals here. Of the food, nothing was at all bad; it was just not as good as it has been on the other occasions I have eaten here. I will go back at some point but I will probably give it a miss for a while.
Posted 15 October 2012 - 10:32 AM
There was a canapé with the aperitifs in the lounge – very thin biscuits and a black pea houmous. And, once in the dining room, there was a good selection of bread. We tried the cheese one and a roasted onion one. Both very good.
“Foragers soup” was based on leeks with a background flavouring from lovage, bittercress and sorrel. It was light, interesting and totally delicious. The other starter, a game turnover, was another success. Crisp pastry, enclosing what I think was mainly rabbit. Alongside, a few salad leaves; turnip puree and a few dice of pickled turnip. Really rather fab as starts to an autumn lunch.
For mains, beef cheek was packed with flavour and whatever it had been cooked in was now just clinging to the meat. There were some sautéed wild mushrooms and a little spinach. And mashed potatoes. Not pomme puree. Not a sloppy goo. Just proper mashed potatoes. They appeared on the other plate, as well. Here they accompanied hake. There was also thick slices of leek – boiled and then finished in the pan to char them slightly. But the star accompaniment here was a wonderfully crisp onion and turmeric fritter – a Michelin onion bhaji, if you will.
Desserts were as good as the previous courses. Roasted pineapple sat alongside rum and raisin ice cream, together with a little rum and lime sauce – for that totally tropical taste. My dessert had its own lilt but one firmly fixed in Britain. A mousse, lightly flavoured with Horlicks, was topped with a dice of Bramley apple and a little apple sorbet. Just excellent.
And, to finish, good strong espresso and a little Eccles cake.
Posted 08 November 2012 - 04:09 AM