Here are the Top 5 restaurants in Lancashire, as voted for by our panel of Top 100 judges, taking into account our own review scores and other guidebook scores, plus any rosettes, stars, plates, forks and all that stuff…
2 Book Now Lancashire Modern British
Michelin magic from Mark Birchall in a historic country setting. Mark Birchall, ex-head chef at L’Enclume is chef-patron of this outstanding one Michelin star, 4 AA Rosette restaurant with rooms. The large, Grade II-listed manor house in this flat and lush part of the country dates back to the 14th century and its located in acres of ground that takes in a country garden, lake, kitchen gardens and a whole lot more. Birchall’s backers and co-owners, the Bells, haven’t scrimped on the investment – and their head chef is a safe bet. Having trained at the three star El Celler de Can Roca in Girona (twice voted the best restaurant in the world), he went on to win the Roux scholarship in 2011. The Roca brothers have had a big impact on Mark Birchall and Moor Hall is benefiting from the experience. Everything is British or grown on site – which is no massive claim to fame these days, but when you think of Birchall’s pedigree, expect the best. Appetisers could include black pudding with pickled apple, smoked curd, tiny baskets of fermented garlic and flowers, and an oyster dish, that tastes (and looks) as remarkable as a rock pool. Aged beef in charcoal is Birchall’s classic ‘main’ from the 8 (plus) course tasting menu, while desserts could include a layered apple creation, topped with apple mead rocks and aged caramel or the most gingery ice cream topped with a regional classic – shards of frozen gingerbread – and served in a hand-carved wooden bowl. Expect natural feeling presentation and tableware worthy of its payload. And don’t forget the dedicated cheese room, stocked with the Courtyard Dairy and Neal’s Yard’s finest. Wine flights (from £55 for four) are bespoke and brilliant: think Japan, Macedonia, New York and France.
10 Book Now Lancashire British
Cooking goes from strength to strength at this adventurous food pub. Roaring fires, cast-iron fireplaces and pictures of fantastically proportioned livestock lend a cosy vibe to the renovated cottages which make up what’s often been described as the original gastro pub. But don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a static operation. Following a relaunch in 2009, traditional cask conditioned ales from the region’s finest breweries are served alongside over 250 international wines. Norfolk quail with truffle and hoisin sauce is a typical starter followed by crispy suckling pig belly with sticky pork cheek and ‘black pudding Paul Heathcote’ or venison, smoked over pine from Wiswell Moor, balanced against pear and Stilton. Steven Smith’s menu sees powerful flavours handled with ease. Pairings of Yorkshire rhubarb with duck egg custard or orange and vanilla rice pudding don’t drop the baton at dessert. Expect something really special.
11 Book Now Lancashire British
Some folk in the village stlll refer to it as “The Mucky Duck’ and you can still order a pint of Timothy Taylor’s at its very pubby bar but over the past three years the Swan has established itself as a destination fine dining spot thanks to 20something chef Tom Parker. From up the road in Burnley, at 16 he begged a start at at Michelin-starred Northcote, becoming a protégé of Lisa Allen and scooping a Young Chef of the Year award. That prodigious talent is evident throughout the short menus here, which change daily on the back of produce turning up on his doorstep. Maybe you’ll get a blob of luscious, home-smoked mash atop a seared fillet of Longhorn or a lobster raviolo, one large pasta parcel encasing the sweetest claw meat, matched by equally sweet butternut squash puree. A five course £45 tasting menu is the perfect introduction to a Swan on song.
15 Book Now Lancashire European
Homely pub, serving and baking extraordinary, modern European food. This tastefully renovated pub and restaurant has everything the worldly gourmand could desire, with none of the faff and pretension that usually comes with that title. Wines and beers are plucked from the world’s finest makers while food is served in the clean lines of the restaurant and woody bar. The menu changes often and could include organic salmon croquettes with pea mayonnaise or a Portuguese-style wild garlic custard tart, rump of Bowland beef or Morcambe Bay megrim sole. Homemade pies (Lancashire cheese and potatoe, roast chicken and creamed garlic, with chicken fat pastry) are another strength. With pastries, ice creams, bread, chutneys and more made on site, dessert sees familiar faces pulled off with aplomb. Eccles cakes, vanilla custard, home-made curds and damson compote are just a few examples. A wonderful place to come and recharge the batteries, in one of the country’s overlooked corners.
21 Book Now Lancashire Modern British
This elegant dining room is where chef-patron, Nigel Haworth, earned his stripes as an instigator of contemporary British fine dining. Today, Michelin star chef and one of BBC2’s Great British Menu winners, Lisa Allen, heads up the kitchen. Expect a roving, regional smorgasbord, tempered with classic techniques and contemporary flavours. Things have changed on the looks front and following a huge cash injection, the surroundings are light and sumptuous (think lambwool, leather and soft lighting) which is part of the allure – not least to Michelin inspectors. The tasting menu could include aged venison with blood orange and roasted yeast, or a slow-cooked pulled egg with aged sour cream. Charred monkfish with garden parsley or wagyu oyster blade and smoked mustard are the stuff special occasions are made of. Desserts don’t let the side down; Eccles cake soufflé with tea ice cream, or Allen’s magical take on apple pie with caramelised milk. There’s a private dining room sponsored by Louis Roederer and the cellar, complete with some exceptional New World options, is fit for the pickiest of tasters. Bottles are hand-picked by Northcote co-founder and expert sommelier, Craig Bancroft.