A comfortable country house hotel on the edge of the Ribble Valley, Northcote has held a Michelin star for over two decades. And while there’s no mistaking you’re in traditional fine-dining territory here, fans appreciate the restaurant’s snow-white cloths and sparkling glassware as a sign of reassurance for the professionalism of the experience to come.
Chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen has taken the reins from her mentor Nigel Haworth, who arrived at Northcote in 1983, a year after front-of-house (and today managing director) Craig Bancroft, a legend in the UK hospitality trade for his unflappable and genial charm.
Lisa’s menus bring the freshness and modernity to Northcote that metropolitan eyes may find lacking in the decor. Lancashire’s natural larder provides ample opportunity for seasonal, locally sourced ingredients to shine. Chargrilled asparagus was packed with flavour, served simply with creamy sheep’s curd and sharp wood-sorrel leaves, while deliciously sticky lamb breast came paired with a pillow of caramelised shallot purée.
A photogenic dish of fat, sweet scarlet prawns with wild-garlic foam and beurre blanc sauce was a technically perfect rendition; we followed it with an earthy plate of succulent squab pigeon, its breast roasted on the bone and the confit leg accompanied by turnip and morels.
Matched with note-perfect wines and friendly service, this is a treat of a tasting menu: light and playful, but with real confidence and skill on show. A six-course plant-based menu is also on offer or, if you don’t want to go down the tasting route, there are à la carte options and a seasonal lunch with 2/3 courses for £29/£36.
Further attractions include a chef’s table, a cookery school, afternoon tea, regular wine evenings and Obsession, which sees some of the UK’s most famous chefs each take over the kitchen for a night for two weeks at the end of January. Tickets sell out fast, as too the 26 individually designed bedrooms.