Restaurant Review: The Barn at Moor Hall, Aughton

The Barn at Moor Hall Set Lunch

The Barn at Moor Hall is the more casual, lower-priced sister site of the newly Michelin-starred Moor Hall restaurant, that’s set within the same grounds. Propelled by the well-deserved praise of Moor Hall which overlooked from across the path, The Barn enticed with a three-course lunch menu at £23 plus service.

It was a long lonely walk from the car park to The Barn at Moor Hall table. The well-maintained grounds, deep ponds, and an empty patio area provided a peaceful, although strangely quiet atmosphere. Inside the large, handsomely converted barn, guests walk passed the glass-fronted room where meat is hung. Something to do with cheese is going on beyond another closed door. Everywhere was silent, everything was spotless.

The restaurant itself was well-crafted. Charming low wooden beams supported the ceiling creating a cosy atmosphere. Exposed brick walls and natural wooden floors with matching tables provided a modern-country look that worked well. Once seated, I had a good view of the open kitchen, meaning I didn’t have to make eye contact with the Mrs. The young chefs were all beavering away in a focused fashion and the clean worktops put my own kitchen to shame.

The Barn at Moor Hall’s frugal set lunch menu afforded a choice of only three starters, mains and desserts. Fine; however, one dish was out of stock. I thought it was poor that something else couldn’t have been whipped up, rather than removing 33% of the starter options.

Regarding food, the amuse-bouche was a posh slice of sausage roll, something I thought local rival Northcote had trademarked. Very good it was too, apparently. I’ve been pescetarian for the last year and wasn’t offered anything else. I politely asked for a bread roll instead, not too much to ask surely, but it was. At least I had some excellent tropical tasting Sauvignon Blanc before the starter to keep me going.

Moor Hall The Barn Ormskirk Lunch Menu Restaurant Review
Northern amuse-bouche, not great for vegetarians

Seduced by lobster mentioned at such a reasonable price point, two Lobster Muffins started the three courses. I keep making this mistake. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s too expensive a raw ingredient, restaurants (generally) aren’t stupid, and therefore punters don’t get enough of it. The lobster muffin was daintily arranged with pretty greenery; however, it annoys me when the main ingredient(s) are hidden. If you have to immediately decapitate the top level or rearrange the plate before the first bite is taken, it’s been plated up in too fiddly a way to begin with in my opinion. Anyway, the lobster itself was fresh, meaty and well-cooked, and the muffin was supple and evenly toasted.

Moor Hall The Barn Ormskirk Lunch Menu Restaurant Review
Pretty Lobster Muffin

For mains, the no-nonsense Roast Beef using Lake District cow seemed appropriate for a Sunday. The quality of the beef was very good; although, perhaps could have been served pinker. The chunky veg were fine but without note. I really liked how the mash was neatly housed within the Yorkshire pudding. Although proudly towering above the plate, the Yorkshire pudding was too dark and dense. The Goosnargh Chicken was bright, summery and elegantly presented. The meat was succulent, and the vegetables were full of life. The potatoes were excellent, gently paddling in delicious herb-packed dressing.

Moor Hall The Barn Ormskirk Lunch Menu Restaurant Review
No-nonsense Lake District Beef
Moor Hall The Barn Ormskirk Lunch Menu Restaurant Review
Elegantly presented Goosnargh Chicken

Desserts at The Barn at Moor Hall provided a neatly prepared Lemon Tart and Gin & Tonic Sorbet being a novel accompaniment. The tart was well-baked but was generally unremarkable. The Raspberry Meringue was completely covered in Champagne Sorbet which sounded awesome but was a waste of time. It was raspberry and meringue, nothing not to like, but far from memorable.

Moor Hall The Barn Ormskirk Lunch Menu Restaurant Review
Lemon Tart with Gin & Tonic Sorbet
Moor Hall The Barn Ormskirk Lunch Menu Restaurant Review
Raspberry Meringue with Champagne Sorbet

Service at The Barn at Moor Hall was fine but with zero rapport. There was an altogether lack of any sense of occasion. The well-presented front of house team were pleasant, but in an anonymous kind of way. A smart-looking young restaurant manager quietly patrolled the dining room, deftly overseeing a well-organised service, although provided no interaction.

The Barn at Moor Hall Wine Prices

The Barn at Moor Hall Wine List is relatively small and crowd pleasing, consistent with the food menu. The majority of the pricing is what most diners would consider sensible. The cheapest bottle of wine, excluding half bottles and service charge, are either a young Italian Pinot Grigio or Portugese Vinho Verde (White), an Italian Pinot Grigio Rosado (Rose) and a Chilean Carmenere (Red) all for £26. Spend a tenner more and you could consider half the menu. I very much enjoyed the smooth yet complex Valpolicella Ripasso by Cantina di Negrar which sneeked under my £40 budget. The most expensive bottle of wine, excluding service, was a 2003 Dom Perignon Champagne at £255.

The Barn at Moor Hall Restaurant Review Score

It’s unfair to compare the Barn to Moor Hall when the price point is different; although, probably natural when it’s next door. The Barn Set Lunch offered very good value albeit from a very limited selection of simple dishes. None of the dishes stood out and the atmosphere fell short of expectations; although, everything was certainly enjoyed.

Atmosphere 7  Cost 9  Quality 8  Service 7

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Other Restaurant Reviews of
The Barn at Moor Hall

  • Confidentials: “The Barn’s more prosaic attractions of Goosnargh chicken, belly pork, steak and chips play to the crowd.”
  • Square Meal: “A main of Herdwick lamb cutlets arrived perfectly pink and plump, dotted with jewel-like broad beans and charred gem, enhanced by a dinky shepherd’s pie…”

Restaurant Review: Capri Grand Cafe Lytham

Capri – Lunching In Leafy Lytham

Capri Grand Cafe, not a 1970s Ford-themed eatery, but a quaint brunch hot spot / bar furnished by ladies-who-lunch, just distant enough from Blackpool to feel safe. Being warmly greeted by the ethereal manager Leigh set a positive first impression: one reinforced throughout the afternoon by the support act of smart, sprightly servers.

The carrot and stick combination of the howling wind rattling through Lytham, and the amicable bar staff encouraged me to loiter around Capri Grand Cafe’s well-stocked shelves with intent. Boodles Mulberry Gin with Elderflower Tonic was recommended – transpiring to be the ideal autumnal afternoon elixir. Additionally, Capri’s well-thought-out cocktail menu, produced an intriguing ‘Gin Zombie’ and elegant ‘Pomegranate And Elderflower Spritz’. That said, everyone else was drinking bloody Porn Star Martinis.

Regarding mains; the impressively meaty, yet wonderfully tender, tuna steak was served admirably rare as promised. The quality of this hunk of boldly-seasoned saltwater fish was obvious, the accompanying aioli was a delight, while the simple, fresh side salad did a job. It’s all only simply presented but it’s what I asked for. Capri’s mushroom pizza successfully negotiated the culinary tight-rope of truffle; not enough is pointless – too much induces projectile vomiting – just enough provided a world of flavour. The pizza base carried through authentic smokey elements and retained its thin and crispy integrity; however, the crust lacked ambition. Although the mushrooms were oily; overall, the pizza packed a satisfying umami punch. Additionally, two sets of sweet potato fries were gloriously salty, impressively crispy, yet concealed soft and flavourful interiors.

In an attempt to subvert the continental vibe, chilled house music and fashionable young clientele, I needed to sober up. I ordered the seemingly out of place, scones with jam and clotted cream. Capri Grand Cafe’s billowing freshly baked scones were of such rustic British beauty, I requested the national anthem. All that was left was to slurp a robust, yet velvety flat white, before settling a not cheap nor unreasonable bill.

Capri Grand Cafe is neither really grand or a cafe. It’s a smart yet easy going lunch or brunch spot, that’s fresh and modern with a decent cocktail menu. Certainly worth a visit, especially with such a lovely terrace.

Capri Cafe & Bar Lytham Restaurant Review
Rare Tuna Steak w/ Sweet Potato Fries
Capri Cafe & Bar Lytham Restaurant Review
Rarer Than Hen’s Teeth
Capri Cafe & Bar Lytham Restaurant Review
Mushroom & Truffle Pizza
Capri Cafe & Bar Lytham Restaurant Review
Autumnal Gin Serves

Capri Grand Cafe & Bar Review Summary

Atmosphere 9/10    Cost 7/10    Quality 9/10    Service 10/10

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Restaurant Review: Northcote, Near Blackburn

Northcote – Lancashire’s Lone Star Lunch

Northcote, (formally Northcote Manor), surrounding by sodden pastures and grey skies, is home to Lancashire’s only Michelin star, fuelled by the formidable Nigel Haworth and Lisa Allen. I thought what better way to congratulate Jesus on rising from the dead, then sniffing out posh Sunday lunch in his honour?

Despite not being particularly stretched, a sense of Northern and Michelin hospitality was undermined by walking both in and out of Northcote without acknowledgement of any kind. It was quite obviously pissing down, yet neither my coat nor dripping umbrella was offered to be removed.

Inside, the lounge area was comfortable and the bar was well-stocked, if not cluttered. Despite Northcote fairly recently having a makeover, I’m not sure the grey, pink, and orange upholstery worked with the period wood panelling. After waiting around for some time, the abrupt host was permanently set on rapid fire: “Have you decided – what would you like – what can I get you?” This unsettling briefing, was contrasted by a sedate dining room. Once seated, the smartly-presented young Northcote team were very cordial and well-organised, but without a sense of occasion. The views of the pretty kitchen-garden in the foreground and rolling hills in the background provide a pleasant back drop, so window seats are recommended.

The amuse bouche had the bittersweet honour of being Northcote’s highlight. Melting magenta shells fleetingly fizzled, birthing a tart, sizzling beetroot flavour, that slapped my taste buds ’round the chops in no uncertain terms.There was no choice but to accept the Dinner Jacket Potato Soup, which was more butter than jacket. The trendy foraged herbs added freshness, although someone’s hair added the opposite. Although this was swiftly dealt with, I doubt a Michelin inspector would have forgave.

The beetroot starter was one the prettiest plate I’d ever seen: vibrant hues and floral shapes, elegantly intertwined in an act of vegetarian poetry. The sweet and acidic elements energetically danced but lacked a focal point. The alien looking Duck was heavily entombed but worked affably alongside the uplifting sorrel, even if it did look like Cousin It.

For mains, the salmon proudly commanded the plate, yet unselfishly yielded to the fork’s graze. The boldly-seasoned fish and convivially sweet roe double teamed the earthy mushrooms, creating a bravely balanced dish which spoke of land and sea in matrimony. The little pops of orange added a touch of vibrancy. While the Japanese influence of soy, shitake and ikura (roe) worked charmingly. The thoughtfully composed lamb was quality dead baby sheep, locally sauced from Bowland, but lacked a je ne sais quoi. It was so rare it walked through the Northcote kitchen. In the two seconds it spent cooking, it was however properly seared and heartily seasoned. The mash was superlatively silky and the scorched and pickled onions added textures and talking points.

Regarding desserts, the trio of British cheeses were delicious, especially a terrified looking puddle of something Brie related. More crackers and less bread I’d suggest though. Northcote’s cleverly crafted cream egg was an enchanting nod to the season, providing deftly constructed contrasting textures, although anything white chocolate and hazelnut is a winner for me.

Northcote Restaurant
Review Summary

Atmosphere 5  Cost 7  Quality 9  Service 8

Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire
Beetroot Amuse Bouche
Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire
Jacket Potato & Foraged Herb Soup
Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire
Three Beets, Yellow, Red & Candied, Pickles Shallot Hearts, Horseradish, Herbs and Flowers
Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire
Crunchy Goosnargh Duck, Sorrel Cream, Oxalis
Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire
Roasted Salmon, Shitake Mushroom, Wilted Watercress, Soy
Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire
Bowland Lamb, Crème Fraiche Potato, English Onion, Pickled, Scorched
Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn Lancashire
Three British Cheeses, House Crackers, Breads, Fireside Chutney and Fig Chutney
Northcote Manor Restaurant Review Blackburn
Hazelnut Chocolate Cream Egg

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Restaurant & Hotel