Rupert Parker travels north to eat in this Michelin starred county house hotel
Located in the Ribble Valley, on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, near Preston, Northcote is one of the finest restaurants and country house hotels in the UK. The restaurant won a Michelin star in 1996 and has retained it ever since. Chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen champions the finest produce and sources her ingredients from the surrounding Lancashire landscape, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Originally a private house built in 1880, it became a hotel a hundred years later and now has 26 luxurious rooms. There are 18 in the Manor House plus seven junior suites and one large suite in the Garden Lodge. These all have a terrace or balcony overlooking Northcote’s gardens and Ribble Valley.
Lisa has been Executive Chef at Northcote since October 2017 but she’s been working in the kitchen here for 20 years, becoming Chef de Partie within a year, and junior Sous Chef the following year. She was named Head Chef at the age of just 23, one of the youngest chefs to get this key role in a Michelin-starred kitchen.
She’s regularly seen on BBC’s Great British Menu, Saturday Kitchen and James Martin’s Saturday Morning. An award-winning wine list compliments the dining experience. The bar offers signature cocktails with the menu changing regularly, using seasonal fruits, herbs and garnishes sourced from Northcote’s own gardens.
Dinner starts in the lounge with a glass of bubbly and some interesting amuse-bouche. Then we are whisked into the dining room where the service is attentive but unobtrusive. The five course seasonal gourmet menu offers wine pairings and that seems the sensible choice.
Highlights of our meal include the Wild Red Prawn, with diced Mango, Honey Yoghurt, Lime Pickle and Red Curry, with an extra Tempura Prawn on the side. Also the Scottish Venison with Whisky Maple Celeriac and Green Apple Aolto summons flavours of moorland and forest. Complementing perfectly is a 2019 sumptuous Ribera Del Duero from Spain.
I was slightly disappointed to see that Tiramisu was listed as the dessert but, as you’d expect this was nothing like the tired version you find in cheap Italian restaurants. Rather it was deconstructed into its various elements with the addition of citrus Calamansi from the Philippines countering the sweetness.
This hotel is for those who seek out good food and wine and want to wallow in luxury in the heart of beautiful countryside. The high end rooms make a perfect base for exploring Ribble Valley and the Forest of Bowland, an undiscovered part of the country. Best of all, of course, is the food and there are now plans to build a new restaurant in the grounds and turn the present dining room into a bistro. I can’t wait to try both.
The five course gourmet menu is £115. Wine pairings are £70.40 extra.
A private dining room, with its own cocktail bar and champagne terrace is available for celebrations, business meetings and small weddings.
For two weeks, in January and February, a different guest chef cooks every night for the Obsession Food Festival – it takes place from Friday 20th January to Sunday 5th February 2023 and for 17 nights features 20 chefs and 16 Michelin stars.
Lancashire, England, BB6 8BE
Tel: 01254 240 555