A Michelin Treat – Northcote
Once a year Hubs & I treat ourselves and go away for a foodie short break. Most of our holidays consist of sleeping under canvas, scrambling to the top of mountains and eating porridge cooked on a Trangia so once in a while we like to indulge in some understated luxury. Previous escapades have included Blue Reef Cottages on the Isle of Harris, Hotel du Vin in York and last year a double trip to River Cottage.
This year it was my turn to decide on the short break adventure and after some internet research I settled on Nigel Haworth’s Northcote near Blackburn. It ticked my wish list: restaurant with rooms, luxury but still affordable and a foodie experience. The fact it has a Michelin Star was an added bonus.
We arrived on a wet, grey Monday afternoon to be greeted by a warming log fire. After checking-in we were shown our room. Given we were staying in the cheapest room in the hotel, you wouldn’t know. I was very impressed. Huge comfortable bed with plush furnishings, decent toiletries and not just complementary tea & coffee, but also a fridge full of bottled water and Belviour drinks. I’m easily impressed!
That evening we made our way downstairs to sample the tasting menu. I didn’t take any photos of the food as I didn’t feel at all comfortable smuggling my not-so-subtle SLR into the dining room that was full of loved-up couples; however I did spot on the next table to ours someone sneakily taking photos on a compact. I did wonder if she was a fellow food blogger. It started with champagne and canapes in the lounge while we decided which menu to go for. The canapes included: Maple Cured Salmon with Cream Cheese & Chives; Onion & Langoustine Bhajis and Parsnip Crisps with an Onion Mousse for dipping. Next, Hubs went for the traditional tasting menu and me, not feeling as brave, went for the vegetarian menu. Hubs also went for the accompanying wine and I matched with a few courses because I’m a lightweight and I wanted to remember the whole meal! Only the first and the last course were the same for both of us, but I did get a taster of quite a few of Hubs’ courses and the Mutton dish was absolutely stunning and perfectly paired with the Gewurztraminer.
Pressed Red Beetroot, Yellow Beets, Smoked Shallots, Goat’s Curd, Treacle Dressing
Sancerra Rose, Pascal Jolivet, Loire, France 2007
Warm Loin of Herdwick Mutton, Jerusalem Artichoke Puree, Honey & Mint Dressing
Gewurztraminer, Les Folastries, Josmeyer, Alsace, France 2007
Butternut squash, Roast Shallots, Fritter
Turbot, Cavier, Butternut Squash
Montagne 1er Cru, Château de la Saule, Burgundy, 2007
Tomato Consommé, Mrs Kirkhams Cheese on Toast
Shellfish Broth, Orkney Scallops, Langoustine
Cheese Omelette Soufflé, Tomato, Shorrocks Bomber Fondue
Sauvignon Blanc, Single Vineyard, Marlborough, 2007
Roe Buck, Potato Wrapped Black Pudding, Pied Bleu Mushrooms, Pickled Damsons
Grenache, Prodical, Clare Valley, Kilikanoon, 2006
Roast Artichoke, Artichoke Puree, Mint & Shallot Dressing
Cockerham Goat 3 Ways, Blood Orange & Juniper Sauce
Pinot Noir, Amayna, San Antonio, Chile, 2007
Barley Risotto, Roast Shallots, Curly Kale, Onion Foam
Dark Valrhona Chocolate Cylinder, Smoked Nuts, Salted Sheep’s Milk Ice Cream
Moscatel, Lopez Hermanos, Malaga
At the end of the meal were then served a selection of petit fours that included mini Eccles cakes, chocolate dipped honey comb and a delicious dark rum truffle. Apart from the amazing mutton dish I sampled from Hubs’ plate my favourite course was the beetroot course at the beginning and the chocolate pudding at the end. The salted ice cream went superbly with the smoky chocolate. Hubs also said how the mutton course was his favourite, not only for the food, but also for the wine. Although I’m not veggie, I often eat veggie when eating out as to be frank I like vegetables. Given there is few vegetables in season during the months of February, Northcote did a sterling job of producing a delicious and different menu for vegetarians. By the end of the epic meal we had been in the dining room for over 5 hours.
The next day, following our foodie-get-away traditions, we had Afternoon Tea. Don’t ask us why, but at least once a year we make sure we have Afternoon Tea somewhere. A quintessentially British pastime. Who could turn down plates of posh finger sandwiches and cakes all washed down with the finest cups of tea. Afternoon Tea at Northcote certainly didn’t disappoint. Well filled sandwiches and perfectly cooked cakes, the scones with home-made jam and a generous portion of clotted cream were particularly good.
We had a great few days away and I would certainly recommend Northcote for a foodie getaway along with their sister pub The Three Fishes for fantastic food. The staff were fantastic. They were knowledgeable & professional without being snooty. It was the little touches that made the difference. The Molton Brown goodies that were left in the room in the evening, staff who became a familiar face and the member of staff who de-iced our car each morning.
Given the weather wasn’t too great we will admit to spending the rest of the time chilling in our lovely room, reading and watching the Winter Olympics. Sometimes I think we all need to switch off from the world and have some luxurious time to ourselves doing what we want to do.