Nigel Haworth’s bullish restaurant-with-rooms is a barnstorming champion of all things Lancastrian. It’s a place that is all about big flavours and precision-tuned cooking (ably interpreted by head chef Lisa Allen); careful sourcing also means that simple things such as a forager’s soup of lovage, bitter cress and sorrel or beef tartare will be perfect. Other sensational dishes reveal a respect for seasonal pickings and moorland game, while beautiful presentation adds a sophisticated gloss to more robust presentations including loin of new season’s lamb with slow-cooked breast, elephant garlic, pressed potatoes and marjoram. After that, the star dessert has to be a melting ginger pudding with iced double cream and caramel custard. The kitchen’s unbridled generosity is backed by warm, friendly service and endorsed by a Michelin star. Accommodation is much appreciated by those wishing to explore the upbeat, international wine list.
This Lancashire institution – Michelin-starred since 1996 – has a good selection of wines in every geographical section of its list. But it’s quality, not bling (and certainly not sheer weight of numbers) that’s the goal, with fairly-priced pedigree offerings everywhere, from Chile to Ribera to Champagne. Clear, consistent and easy to follow, there’s a lot here to like.