For my husbands birthday this year I booked to stay at Northcote on one of their one night ‘tasting break’ packages. This included one of their superior rooms, half a bottle of champagne as an aperitif pre dinner and the full tasting menu, as well as breakfast the next morning.
Northcote is a country house hotel set in the beautiful Lancashire country side on the edge of the Ribble Valley. It’s website professes an emphasis on local produce and being faithful to it’s lancashire roots and it certainly came through on this promise.
The exterior of the house is lovely and the gardens on our stay looked radiant bathed in sunshine – you can even wander around and have a look at the copious amounts of herbs and vegetables that they are cultivating themselves.
The interior is classically decorated and it was a bit of a maze of doors to get to our room. The room itself was beautifully done, large and spacious with nice seating area and sizeable wet room which even had neon uplighting giving a lovely atmosphere. Another added touch was the presence of a sweet teddy bear with the option to ‘adopt’ him and take him home with you. We were lucky enough to have a ground floor room which had double glass doors leading on to our own little private patio complete with table and chairs, where we enjoyed a lovely cream tea in the sun. There was also the option of full afternoon tea either in the room, lounge or in the gardens – we opted against this ,trying to leave a little room for dinner!
Moving on to dinner, first came canapés and our champagne aperitif in the lounge where we had chance to peruse the menu and we certainly liked what we saw. The delicious canapés of pea mousse in a cone and celeriac croquettes went down very well and left us eagerly anticipating the main event. Service throughout was attentive and friendly, managing to stop short of making you feel like you were being watched, which is one of my pet hates.
The dining room it self was light and airy and we were sat close to the extensive glass windows towards the front of the house, which on a balmy late spring evening was gorgeous.
First an amuse bouche of goats cheese mousse with beetroot sorbet and cubes of juicy beetroot – simply sublime flavours a classic combination but done amazingly well. My mouth was watering about what was to come. The slow cooked goosnargh chicken with liver parfait and quail egg yolk was very nice – although we both felt the the thinly cut slice of chicken was a little lost amongst the other flavours.
The next course, scallop leek and caviar was amazing – it came with a mini ‘side’ dish of the lightest aerated pork scratching with caviar and seaweed and the taste of that, as well as the scorched baby leeks was out of this world.
The crispy coated hake which came next was perfectly cooked, and the flavour offset by the marrowbone and smoky tartar.
Probably the most disappointing dish on the menu was the cauliflower ‘risotto’. It was a great concept – no risotto at all actually, just different textures of cauliflower. It was pleasant, but I felt that there was something about it that just didn’t quite work as it promised, and the salted caramel flavour it pledged I couldn’t taste at all.
Moving swiftly on, next came the absolute stand out dish of the day. Everything about this dish just worked. The guinea fowl was perfectly cooked, moist and juicy, the parfait was spot on, little bites of zesty apple, and the smoothest celeriac and truffle purees I’ve ever tasted. If I was a little underwhelemed by the previous course, I couldn’t even remember it anymore because this one was fantastic.
The last savoury dish was also pretty good, although nothing could live up to the guinea fowl. The veal cheek was melt in your mouth and went well with the chargrilled fennel and onions. For me the olive oil mash could have been a little stronger in flavour.
Finally moving on to desert, and amazingly only one desert course on the menu, now this suited me fine as I would take savoury over sweet every day of the week. Simply titled ‘Northcote chocolate egg’ it finished off the meal perfectly.
Coffee and petit fours followed back in the lounge, a nice way to relax and reflect on the meal we had just eaten.
To be honest before arriving at Northcote I was not sure what to expect after having made that age old mistake of reading a few less than complimentary reviews on Tripadvisor, but our experience just backed up the fact that you should never ever trust these sites! A real jewel up north and amongst the top 5 meals we have ever had.
Disclosure: We paid for our own meal, and all opinions expressed are honest and our own