At last we are revisiting Northcote Manor. The Michelin starred restaurant has an array of culinary giants in the kitchen – often including chef patron, Nigel Haworth and regularly including executive head chef, Lisa Allen. It has been one of our favourite places for a long time but we haven’t been back there for over a year. Today is the day!
I choose the chicken liver parfait with artichoke, mushroom jelly and rocket. When it arrives I am reminded that the Northcote kitchen doesn’t just create dishes that are beautiful to eat – they are beautiful to look at too. The parfait is rich and full of flavour but I need more toast! Rock picks the cedar plank salmon with fennel coleslaw, caviar and garden flowers. The salmon is good quality, well dressed with great flavour from the fennel.
The restaurant is full and visions of food are flying past us as the service swings into top gear. My medium rare hanger steak arrives served with a beef fat onion, young carrots and hand cut chips. Fabulous. Rock has the plaice fillet with heirloom tomatoes, scorched cucumber, crushed new potatoes and preserved lemon. The plaice is beautifully cooked and perfectly seasoned. The different tomatoes have individual favours, they work fantastically well with the fish, as does the lemon. There is some sort of magic created when you can taste each individual flavour and every item adds to the greatness of the dish. We have been to so many places where the starters heighten expectations, then the main courses are disappointing – but not here.
Rock says something I can’t quite believe, “I don’t want dessert” but then adds “I’ll have some of yours, but I’m saving myself for the Eccles cakes.” Now I understand. I am already well past saving and order the Bramley apple trifle. The trifle is no ordinary trifle – apple purée in the bottom, topped with Horlicks mousse, apple jelly, sticks of Bramley Apple, vanilla custard and apple sorbet. Extraordinary.
We order coffee which, at lunchtime, is served with their fabulous mini Eccles cakes. Great coffee, great mini Eccles – we just need more of them!