A more casual alternative to chef Mark Birchall’s fine dining magnum opus Moor Hall, The Barn is a charming, rustic space next to the main manor house. Whilst Moor Hall is quite a specific dining experience, The Barn is rather more accessible, open for lunch and dinner with seating spread between the barn itself and a large terrace area just in front.
The Barn was renovated and reopened as a restaurant in 2017, and great care has gone into the tasteful, conscientious refurbishment. In line with Moor Hall’s sustainable ethos, as much of the original material has been reused in the renovation as possible - either in the restaurant or around the grounds - and the results are beautiful. The Barn’s vaulted ceiling towers overhead as you climb the stairs into the restaurant. Exposed brick walls and lots of timber help the space feel rustic and homely, but still elegant, and the long space points you towards a bustling open kitchen at the far end.
This restaurant may seem to play second fiddle to two Michelin-starred Moor Hall nearby, but the cooking at The Barn is, in many ways, just as accomplished as it is next door. Alongside an a la carte packed full of delicious dishes, The Barn still makes your visit feel special with snacks and petit fours bookending your meal. Some in-house charcuterie kicks things off, which is made in Moor Hall’s curing room downstairs, and goes down nicely alongside a refreshing gin and chamomile aperitif. Among the starters, a tartlet of Spenwood cheese, violet artichoke, duck ham and walnut catches the eye, each of its components perfectly presented and bundled harmoniously into a crisp, buttery shortcrust shell.
The setting is a little more relaxed, but there’s a precision to the cooking in The Barn that signals a really top-tier restaurant. The pick of a few outstanding mains is a ballotine of Saint-Sever guinea hen, wrapped in crispy skin and served with girolles, wild garlic flowers, smoked potato sauce and a pool of glossy sauce. It’s pretty as a picture, and absolutely delicious. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention also a beautiful, pearlescent piece of turbot, cooked on the bone and served on a sticky, glistening crab sauce.
The crowning flourish is a prune and amaretto souffle which rises proudly from its mould, and we spoon a rocher of almond ice cream into the middle and devour. With reasonably-priced set menus, Sunday lunches and more also on offer, the people of Aughton are lucky to have not just one, but two outstanding restaurants on their doorstep.