There was no food at the Inn whilst we were away,pleased to report hungry customers have returned this week nonetheless.
We booked ourselves into Northcote for a Gourmet break.Northcote was named recently in the top 20 of the Sunday Times/Hardens food list( I was going to post a link to it here but its behind the pay wall),so you'll just have to take my word for it.
I prompted Chef well in advance that there might be a dress code for the restaurant.
Not a problem.. says he..I can wear a tie with m'polo shirt.....
The bedroom was smart,overlooking the kitchen herb garden.We sat in these chairs briefly but looked like a couple of stiffs,or a brace of Edwardian servants surreptitiously sitting in the masters chairs.
Great for posture though, if you have issues.
More of a suite really,with
I'd noticed a few seat pad cushions earlier in the wardrobe during my requisite ten minute investigation of all the cupboards and drawers.They puzzled me, I had already drawn them to Chefs attention.. I wonder what they're for??
Once I was seated at this lovely chair in front of the mirror all was revealed,one could only see the very tip of one's head in the mirror.Balanced precariously atop the aforementioned four seat cushions I had a perfect view.
That's the difference with a Michelin starred venue isn't it?
Every eventuality has been thought of...
Comfortably ensconced in the lounge by 7pm for our half bottle of inclusive Champagne and canapés,Chef ordered himself a Peroni.The waiter looked mildly surprised but continued to offer this particular beverage at appropriate intervals throughout the evening.Without flinching.Commendable.
Venison carpaccio, cauliflower cheese croquette,treacle smoked salmon.. Great with Peroni.
Presently we were shown to our table in the newly appointed restaurant.We earwigged the couple at the table behind enquire if there'd recently been a refurb,they could still smell the paint,they laughed.They must have been in possession of particularly honed hooters-we discreetly sniffed the air in unison but didn't detect anything.
The lone diner troughing furiously at the table next to us looked familiar.Chef clocked him first,I didn't notice him initially, blending in as he did with the oak panelled pillar he was seated directly in front of.
It was a certain well known antiquities expert off the telly.
He was nearing the end of his dining experience,he must like to eat early in case the public bother him, said Chef.
Him being a VIP and all.
We observed the waiter bring something over to him on a silver tray whilst apologetically saying-I've found this,its not exactly...
Before he could finish his sentence Mr Dark Oak brusquely waved him away and muttered disgruntledly-No.. no, I don't want that I cant believe you don't have any in a place like this with all this wonderful food..
We wondered what the elusive absent requirement was,Chef thought it might be a particularly obscure after dinner liquer.
Personally I think there's no doubt its an After Eight Mint he was lacking...
Firstly,an amuse bouche.Goats cheese mousse with beetroot ice cream and rocket.Very refreshing,a perfect palette cleanser.Chef isn't a massive goats cheese fan but ate it anyway.There was quite a lot of it,the first spoonful was definitely the best,one of those things you love but couldn't eat a lot of,less being more.
Sorry, I dug in by accident before taking the photo.
Fillet of Lonk lamb,butter puff pastry,rocket,Cabernet sauvignon dressing.
The lamb was pink and very moist,it was surrounded by a chicken mousse and encased in very light puff pastry,the splodge is a parsnip purée.Gorgeous.We each had a glass of Hunter Semillon VAT 1,Tyrell's 2000 to accompany.
Southport shrimp organic porridge,tomato relish.
I wasn't sure what to expect of this, I imagined it might be a risotto but made with oats,but pleasingly the oats weren't really detectable.It was served with a spoon containing some fresh pesto and tomato relish to stir in.I liked this idea.Very tasty indeed.
Foragers soup.curd cheese with lemon ravioli.
The curd cheese and ravioli was served in the bottom of the bowl,the waiter poured the soup into the bowls at the table from a glass jug.A nice bit of theatre,might steal that idea for our New Years Eve menu.
This was made with herbs from the Northcote garden,the Maitre d' explained which,I remember him mentioning nettle.It was delicious,In Chef's opinion:one of the stars of the meal.
The Sommelier glanced quizzically at Chefs chosen Peroni accompaniment.A volatile combination.
He's probably wondering if he got the matching wrong...said Chef.
Eaves green wild duckling,faggot,poached damsons,potato bobbins,salt baked swede,Syrah reduction.
We were asked prior to this being served if we were OK with the duckling being pink.Of course we were.When the dish arrived it was very rare,we didn't mind, but I noticed the diners at the next table looking frightened and gingerly cutting bits off.Pink is pink,rare is a different thing altogether especially with game or lamb.Lots of people who like a rare steak wouldn't have enjoyed the duckling served as rare as this.The stars of this dish were the potato bobbins.They consisted of shredded duck confit mixed with puréed potato then wrapped in potato strands,then deep fried until crisp.A most apt regional creation for Lancashire with its cotton mill heritage.They were mind blowingly delicious.I scored with this dish as they gave me TWO potato bobbins as I couldn't have the faggot due to my gluten allergy.Result.
Chef thought they would make a fantastic bar snack.
We had a glass of this to accompany the duckling.Chef is a recent convert to Pinot Noir.
Organic apple trifle,lemon choc ice.
Chef always says that the puddings are outstandingly better in Michelin starred restaurants than perhaps sometimes the other courses.This one was no exception.Made with apples from the Northcote garden.A vanilla custard,apple purée matchsticks and crisps,served on a slate with a lovely lemon ice cream coated in dark chocolate.Chef said they could have lost the chocolate.I liked it.The picture doesn't do it justice,on the top left there's a shard of sugar glass.Beautiful and delicious.
I'm not a great fan of slates.The diner at the next table confirmed my reservations,as she cut through her lemon ice and the other half shot across the table at high speed.She glanced around furtively before retrieving it.
The couple at the next table waved the white flag at this stage.
We soldiered on with cheese.
British cheeses with Lancashire cheese crackers and Walnut and fruit loaf.
We were offered a choice of around a dozen cheeses expertly described by the Maitre d'.The chutney had a curry flavour, I've had this before at one of Nigel Haworths pubs.Its nice but I'm not convinced this flavour goes with cheese.Are you?
Chef managed a glass of:
Ramos Pinto 10yr old Tawny Quinta da Ervamoira
I had a sip but admirably abstained from a full glass.
I ploughed through the eight Petit fours which arrived with my coffee.One of them a mini Lancashire bun thing.One best described as a home made fruit pastille.
Throughout the meal the Maitre d' explained each dish as it arrived.Chef doesn't like this but when you've opted for a Gourmet menu I think its acceptable to do this.It was done in a very nice way and not overbearing.If we'd opted for the A la Carte menu then maybe I would have felt differently about someone pointing stuff out on my plate.As I said to Chef not all diners may know what the ingredients are.
In fact throughout our stay the service was outstanding,and not at all stuffy.
They were also fantastic about our allergies, I've shown you the menu which Chef was served,mine was slightly altered to avoid gluten.Chef is violently allergic to fish(but not shellfish)so we are actually most kitchen's nightmare diners.They even provided gluten free bread.
By now I was desperate to lie down as I was beginning to resemble a small rotund leopard print clad barrel.On returning to our room we were mortified to discover that someone had politely turned down the bed in our absence and placed a welcoming teddy bear in the middle.An island of calm in the midst of the chaos of randomly discarded clothing, underwear and shoes strewn across the floor in our haste to get ready.Well,I did have a bit of indecision as to what to wear..
Useful facts to know if you're planning a trip here:
1.Read the information manual in the bedroom-Chef read it the next morning and we were gutted to learn that there was a TV channel watching the kitchen from 6pm until 10pm.Sadly we missed this.
2.Don't leave ones knickers and other assorted deeply personal effects on the bedroom floor if you want to avoid cheeks burning with shame next morning at breakfast as you tuck into your Smoked salmon and Scrambled eggs..
3.If you're wild maned like me you may wish to consider relocating here permanently as there's something about the water in this area(I've stayed in this area before and can report experiencing the same phenomenon),which renders ones hair uncharacteristically sleek, swishy and not requiring frantic GHD attention.