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Northcote Manor, Lancashire

I tell people that I go to the UK to see my family, but if the truth be known, it’s really to replenish my favourite moisturiser and to sample some Michelin star food.  No trip to the UK would be complete without a good feed, and with the strong Aussie dollar at the moment it makes even Michelin star dining quite affordable.

My family live in Lancashire and although it is home to some fabulous local produce like the black pudding, Lancashire cheese and Goosnargh ducks to name just a few, it is only home to one restaurant with a Michelin Star.  There may just be one, but it’s a good one.  Northcote Manor, in Langho.  The family are regulars here so I’ve been pestering them to take me when I was next in town.

Set in the picturesque Lancashire countryside, we arrived at this big old house. Not only is it a restaurant but it also has luxury rooms, perfect for a romantic getaway.  This is going to sound a little bit snobbish (I am British don’t forget) but what I like about a Michelin star restaurant compared to others is the level of service and attention to detail.  On arrival our coats were taken and we were shown to the drawing room, where we perused the menu with a drink and our amuse bouche.  Today’s offering was pea mousse with homemade crisp breads.

There are various menu options ranging from a la carte, 5 or 7 course tasting menus or the seasonal lunch.  The seasonal lunch is what makes this restaurant an affordable option.  At £26 for 3 courses plus tea or coffee it’s a veritable bargain, and on this visit we also had a voucher for an additional £5 off (often available to download from their website).

The seasonal lunch offers 3 choices for each course, but even with three choices I was struggling to decide.  To start, the majority of the table opted for the lamb fries. These were lightly battered and served with a chorizo mash and tomato sauce.  I’ll let you Google what it is; all I’ll say is, it wasn’t the liver and it was delicious!

The other first course options were garlic and minted pea soup or salmon carpaccio with scorched and pickled cucumber, horseradish and loveage. We passed on the soup and tried the salmon. I have to say, it looked more like sashimi to me, as I always think of carpaccio as very thin slices. Regardless of whether it was sashimi or carpaccio, it tasted good.

The choice for the main was a no brainer for me, it had to be the liver and bacon, or when fine dining calves liver, onion, smoked mash and pork jowl. I don’t really know why I love offal, as so many people I meet cannot stand it. But I love the taste and the texture and enjoy eating it whenever I can.  I don’t find it on many menus in Australia very often so it tends to be the dish I make a beeline for when I’m dining in the UK.  The calves liver didn’t let me down. It was perfectly cooked so it melted in my mouth and the accompaniments were nothing short of perfect.  I’d love to know how they infused the mash with the smokey flavour.

My dining companions who were less enthusiastic about offal opted for the pork served with leek gratin and turnip puree.  It looked perfect on arrival but my fellow diners were a little dismayed when the squid ink used to colour the turnip puree muddied the rest of the dish.  It tasted fine to me, but my visual eaters decided it put them off a little and preferred other meat courses they had eaten at Northcote.  The other comments were “the leeks are very leeky” – it’s good to know my family are keen to partake in my food reviewing…

Now here’s a turn up for the books I didn’t go for the cheese board for dessert.  I’ve developed an appreciation for dessert since I started the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop so I used this as an opportunity to sample how it should be done.  I asked the waitress to make a recommendation and she pointed me in the direction of the dish Lisa Allen prepared for the Great British Menu – Strawberries, mint and Kendal Mint Cake.  This is a dish you can recreate at home courtesy of the BBC website, but only if you can get your hands on some strawberries as good as these ones.  The strawberry flavour was incredibly intense with a sweetness balanced out my the cool mint. There was also a great combination of textures from the crispy meringue, to the slushy ice and wobbly jelly.

If you opt for the cheese they are all locally sourced Lancashire cheeses, including a choice of creamy, crumbly, smoked or blue, served with walnut bread and crisp breads.  I couldn’t resist a sneaky taste of the blue. A new discovery, I will definitely try to recreate the Blacksticks Blue with it’s unusual cheddar like texture and orange colour it would be a great triumph to make some.

The other dessert option was a garden mint choc ice with raspberries and mint.  This was certainly not a choc-ice as defined by the ones purchased from the freezer shops as a child.  A delicate cuboid of mint ice cream coated in a crispy shell of chocolate, topped with raspberry sorbet.  I was struggling to decide which dessert I wanted before I saw them but I could’ve happily polished off both!

To complete the experience, and yes, Michelin star dining should be an experience, we had tea and coffee in the drawing room. Well, I didn’t have a drink but I still got to try the mini Eccles cakes which were served instead of the more typical petites fours.

Northcote Manor is open for breakfast and lunch Monday to Sunday and dinner Monday to Friday.

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Comment from Graham
Time June 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Wow – this looks amazing. Sounds like it’s got a great menu!

Comment from Michelle Elliott (@mschefkitchen)
Time July 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Wow! This looks like fantastic place. I haven’t even heard of it, but will have to recommend it to friends and family back in Blighty!

Comment from Lydia (@LydiaGuerrini)
Time July 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

It all looks ravishing, and your photographs are always so enticing :) I would like the strawberries right now! I did gadp once though, as I personally believe that the holy Squid Ink is perfect and can do no wrong. I lie. I gasped twice. Cant believe you at lamb’s testicles. That’s SO ‘un-British of you :))) Love it! btw, could the smokey flavour of the mash have been from the use of ‘liquid smoke’? It’s an awesome product used in mash or pulled pork etc.

Comment from colin
Time July 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Wish I had had the calves liver Nic,having tasted a bit of yours.The photos easily rival Grahams efforts!Brings back happy memories.

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