Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft’s Michelin-starred flagship venue has made a startling leap into the 21st century. The previously staid interior positively sparkles, thanks to a glossy new-look lounge, bar and private dining room, with more bedrooms and a revamped restaurant next on the list during 2014. Northcote is a barnstorming champion of all things Lancastrian, with the emphasis firmly on careful sourcing, big flavours and precision-tuned cooking (ably interpreted by head chef Lisa Allen). The kitchen shows real respect for seasonal pickings and regional produce, with beautiful presentation adding a sophisticated gloss to more robust ideas including Cumbrian roe deer with cherries, butternut squash, ginger and salted pumpkin seeds. After that, the star dessert has to be a soft-centred tropical fruit mousse with pineapple sorbet and candied parsnip. The kitchen’s unbridled generosity is backed by warm, friendly service, while 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.