Northcote is a hotel & restaurant situated in the scenic countryside of Langho, Blackburn. Being quite far out the way from our usual haunts of Liverpool and Manchester we wish we made the thirty odd mile journey earlier than we did last week. Holding a Michelin star for many years the style of the food prides itself on its simple fresh produce which it has in abundance in the surrounding areas.
On booking we were asked to arrive thirty minutes before to fully enjoy the Northcote experience. Needless to say we arrived just before the booking time having not allowed sufficient driving time. From the outside Northcote could pass for any other country residence and we were quietly surprised when led to the bar and lounge area.
The bar was modern with plush grey lining along the side. Mrs Nom particularly liked fireplace and the striking colour combination of the pink and charcoal chairs and sofas, being a girl she tends to like anything that is pink it seems. I liked that the styling retained a classical feel with a modern twist.
We were served an amuse of bread wafers and goats curd with olive oil in the lounge whilst we selected our drinks. Being early in the day and tending not to drink at lunch we settled on refreshing mocktails of grapefruit fizz and elderflower mojito to start. The variety of menus was then introduced with a seasonal lunch menu, a la carte and four and five course gourmet options. Not being able to decide we splashed out on the five course gourmet lunch at £60 each.
After being led to our table in the dining room we were served a pre starter of Northcotes take on the BLT, which was lettuce mousse, tomato sorbet, bacon with a parmesan crisp. The chilled tomato sorbet was the star for me as greens are always the lowest on my agenda!
The first course was wood burnt Scottish Mackerel, wholegrain mustard yoghurt, organic potatoes and bronze fennel. The mackerel fillet was quite large, bigger than we’ve had to date and was well cooked with the skin just scorched enough and remaining on the right side of pleasant. A new flavour combination for me with the mackerel mustard but it the contrast worked well. The bread selection is always of interest to us and we chose the caramelised onion and Lancashire cheese breads. The warm oozing cheese oil inside the cheese bread swayed me to have a second piece.
Next up was roasted veal sweetbread in salt & pepper, turnip cream and shoots. The split sauce surrounding the turnip cream of olive oil and red wine worked well when mixed with the sourness of the turnip cream. The sweetbreads were big and cooked through just right avoiding a rubbery grainy texture. On paper the third course appealed the least to me with it being the ‘veg’ course. Garden broad beans, Leagrams sheep’s curd custard, summer truffle and salted pods; this was presented in a small pot. However on tasting the freshness of the beans and onion really worked well with the sheep’s curd and truffle when combined. Mrs Nom found the sheep’s curd a little strong but that was due to her eating the individual elements separately.
The main course was New Seasons Lamb, slow cooked belly, cauliflower risotto, spring onion and buttered lettuce. The cauliflower risotto was served with parmesan foam so was not really a risotto. As a main this was perfectly passable and enjoyable with lamb belly being new to me but it did not excite as with the mackerel and sheep’s curd courses.
Dessert was a triumph, English strawberries & cream and organic garden mint served as a sphere with gold leaf. On breaking the sphere it revealed the cream aspect and the taste brought back memories of the classic strawberry split ice cream from ice cream vans. By now we were stuffed but found space for coffee, served with petit fours of Eccles cakes, sesame covered chocolate and a chocolate truffle.
The service throughout was attentive and informed as expected for a starred establishment. We thorough enjoyed our lunch and would return for the seasonal lunch menu which offers even greater value at under £30 for 3 courses with coffee and petit fours. Mrs Nom also has her eye on the afternoon tea but next time we will make sure we arrive in good time to relax and enjoy the experience more.