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Northcote Manor Part II

Gordo sees the world though rosé tinted glasses

Written by . Published on June 13th 2007.


Northcote Manor Part II

On we go with the longest review ever for Gordo. For Part I, click here. That first visit, on a Saturday night was a bit hit and miss, but they were very busy. Which is no excuse for bad things happening at this level especially for a restaurant which has held a Michelin star for over ten years.

The porridge comes and goes with the help of Lancashire cheese bread. The bread is lovely, the shrimps odd. They take a bit of getting used to, but once you do, you could have them again.

Second time around and Gordo bowls through the front door, says hello to the front of house team, and suggests that he goes straight to his table. Time is short, Gordo is due back in Manchester for a meeting with the thin accountant about his expenses. “Come on through to the lounge sir, where we can make you comfortable and you can have a look at the menu”. “Look you little ****, I want to go straight to my sodding table, is that OK with you?”, thinks Gordo. “Yes, no problem”, says Gordo.

“Ok, get me a half bottle Domaine Ott Rosé please”. Probably the best rosé in the world, this is a wine from Provence, and is very, very good. Ott has been bought recently by one of the champagne houses and heavily marketed, so the price has risen to approximately twice that of other Bandol rosés.

The Americans buy a lot of this wine because, a) they believe what they are told on TV and, b) they can remember the name. This doesn’t help the price much, which is plus or minus £18 in the supermarket, or £9 for a half bottle. The charge in the restaurant is a frightening £31.95. For a half bottle.

The wine list is put together by Nigel’s partner, Craig Bancroft and is amongst the top three or four in the North West. As are the prices. Looking at the wines, Burgundy for example, we find a Domain Dujac (rare and fantastic), Morey St. Denise 1999, a fab year but very over priced at £86.95. There is a ’96 Dujac Chambolle Musigny elsewhere in the North West at £70, a far better wine. So, Gordo is thinking, Craig appears to be a bit generous with the margins. Then he comes across a Red Bordeaux, Chateau Ducru – Beaucaillou 1989; a five star year in Bordeaux, the Ducru drinking beautifully at the moment. I bet this would beat the pants off any of Craig’s other reds at higher prices. It’s only £120 reader: believe me, this is a bargain.

Back to the sitting room. It feels totally different during the day: even the carpet seems a little toned down since last time. Gordo gets a glass of his Ott, and chooses off the à la carte. He decides on the Morecombe bay shrimps. (£9.50). They are, apparently, in a porridge. Gordo is ushered through into the dining room which he finds pleasantly busy with about twenty five covers, not bad for a Tuesday. The atmosphere is not stuffy, the table in the corner window having a particularly good time and the ten ladies who lunch gossiping energetically. The room is many times better at lunch than dinner, but this doesn’t save it from the beige wallpaper which sucks the artwork into its very beigeness. In fact the effect is ‘Show House.’ Never mind, tablecloths linen, chairs comfy, Gordo settles into his lunch.

The porridge comes and goes with the help of Lancashire cheese bread. The bread is lovely, the shrimps odd. They take a bit of getting used to, but once you do, you could have them again. It’s a good dish this, with a tart tomato ‘relish’ on a spoon to kick-start the palette. A sharp (vinegar?) background holds up the tomato and herbs which in turn pushes forward the shrimps. Very South West France, the flavours highly defined and amplified to great effect.

Then Gordo’s main dish arrives. It isn't what he had ordered. It's the tempura of sea bass with asparagus and new potatoes. (£13). It's supposed to be the wild sea bass with lobster ravioli. (£26). The waitress, Heather McKnight, instantly offers to change it, but Gordo is mindful of the time and decides to accept the dish. A generous fillet in a good tempura batter, crisp, light, with fluffy juicy fresh fish inside. The asparagus is perfect, this is the very best time of the year for this delightful vegetable. A lovely lemon syrup is dotted around the plate acting as a condiment along with a mayo scattered with capers and other goodies. A good, well, very good lunch dish. The new potatoes this time are AWESOME. He is however uncertain that fried fish should be married to boiled spuds?

Gordo bolts down the pudding, a gooseberry possett and blackberry syllabub (£4). The gooseberry is too sharp, not ripe enough, the blackberry fab.

The service, in particular that from Heather McKnight, is exemplary on the second visit. Actually the beautiful Heather made all the difference to Gordo’s experience on both occasions. She has been with Craig and Nigel for four months, previously being a fixture on the QEII. She is the Lady of Lake.

Finally, what of the Michelin Star? Craig and Nigel are in their umpteenth year here and they both need to go and smell the roses for a bit, do a bit of thinking. Craig needs to consider his pricing policies, Nigel, like a great song writer who is starting to get a little stale, needs to think about his next album. You don’t find Bowie going back to Ziggy all the time. These guys are consummate pros who need a kick up the arse. Having given it some thought, Gordo wouldn’t like to see that kick coming from Michelin.

Quick point: be aware that last orders at lunch are 1.30 pm. Craig tells Gordo that the bedrooms have had a refurb, for those who want to stay over.

Rating: 16.25/20
Breakdown: 8/10 Food
4.25/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: Northcote Manor
Northcote Road
Langho
Blackburn
Lancs
BB6 8BE
01245 240555

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AnonymousJune 13th 2007.

myself and my girlfriend went to northcote manor a month ago. not impressed iam afraid.hard to say that because so much was good about the meal yet so much wrong. surely the reason why Northcote has a michelin star is that it ticks all the boxes every day, week, month until the next review. how can a michelin star kitchen dare to send out over cooked scallops!!!!!!!!!! this was the second course of our eight and it sent me all negative about the next dishes. thought the porridge was special tho. in my opinion, great setting, great service, good food. maybe does live up to the one michelin star- 'worth a detour' but no more than that!

JohnBoyJune 13th 2007.

best breakfast the world has ever seen here, why don'y you fellers at mancon twist their arms for a deal for us all?

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