Set amid beautiful rolling pastures of Lancashire’s Ribble Valley, Northcote stakes a strong claim to be one of the best restaurants in the North.
A picturesque setting, Northcote has the feel of a country house, set within a stones throw of the Forest of Bowland.
And best of all for Mancunians, it’s about 8 miles away from the M6.
So if you’re looking for ultimate dining experience, or a New Year Treat, or just fed up of the city, why not check it out?
Winning its Michelin star in 1996, Northcote has held onto it ever since – and it’s no surprise, with Lisa Goodwin-Allen at the helm.
She has just scooped female chef of the year at an awards ceremony hosted by restaurant review and booking website, SquareMeal.
She has an amazing CV, winning 2022 CATEY Chef of the Year and AYALA SquareMeal Female Chef of the Year Award 2022, but her personal list of achievements is exhaustive.
I Love MCR spoke to Lisa about her food, and what makes Northcote such a special place.
She said: “Seasonality and locality are extremely important in order to get the best flavours. I like to take traditional dishes and classic flavours and put a modern spin on them.
“Food conjures amazing memories, whether it’s tasting something that you remember from childhood, or something you ate with your grandparents.
“I think food just comes with this amazing history. We source the most amazing local produce from very passionate people, so we really want to use that produce in a way that brings the best from it.”
Luckily, we were invited to try the autumn 5 course taster menu, and it was unlike anything we’d ever experienced before.
To begin with, the Aged Dairy Cow “Rossini”, with Madeira, Mushroom and Parsley. This was accompanied by a glass of Redoma Rosé by Dirk Niepoort, from Portugal (2019). When this dish arrived, I marvelled at the creativity of its creator. To put something together like this clearly takes immense talent and vision, and that was before I put it into my mouth. The flavours were astounding.
Next up was the Slow Cooked Cacklebean Egg with Aged Sour Cream and Artichoke flakes. It was described to me as ‘the poshest egg and chips imaginable’, but don’t let the looks fool you. It was full of rich flavours and the egg was absolutely divine to the last mouthful. The crisp of the artichoke flakes paired well with the texture of the egg. This dish was accompanied by Woodcutter’s Semillion, Torbreck, Barossa Valley, Australia, 2021.
Laura spoke to talked to us about her cooking process, and what she looks for in her flavours.
Lisa said: “I’m very hands-on and I love being creative.
“I like taking traditional things and stamping my DNA on them.
“Creating a dish that doesn’t look like an apple pie, but it tastes like an apple pie, that’s really exciting to me.
“I also want to be able to taste everything that’s on the plate.
“Buying seasonally not only ensures great quality; it leads to less wastage.
“And taking what’s in abundance makes you think outside the box, too. Sometimes it’s wacky and wonderful because you get an ingredient, draw a circle and think, what can that go with it?
“It can end up completely different to what you had in mind before.”
The next dish on the taster menu was the Native Lobster with Mango, Honey Yoghurt, Lime Pickle and Red Curry. It came with a beautiful tempura prawn that we were advised to eat last, to enjoy the full breadth of the flavours. Advice gladly followed as the wonderful melange of red curry and lobster carried the dish off with aplomb. This was accompanied by a glass of Gewurztraminer, Les Folastries, Josmeyer, Alsace, France 2016. A beautiful white wine, aromatic and floral flavours of lemon, citrus, honey, lychee, pineapple and melon.
Number four was the Scottish Venison with Whisky Maple Celeriac and Green Apple. Celeriac has become an incredibly popular ingredient, and with good reason. The flavours are astounding. The whiskey maple balanced the slight sweetness, creating an interesting depth of flavour. The venison, sublime too.
This was accompanied with a glass of Aalto, Ribera Del Duero, Spain, 2019 – a hearty red from the Tempranillo grape, a great companion to the venison.
Lisa said that looking forward, Northcote were going to be focussing on sustainability.
The restaurant prides itself on the personal, direct connection they have with suppliers and being situated where it is, they couldn’t help but draw on local connections to create great food.
She said: “Sustainable sourcing and farming is going to become more and more a focus for us.
“Right now we are very much focused on the future of dining, and ensuring the next generations can enjoy the amazing ingredients we are.
“The personal, direct connection with suppliers is really important to us and we will continue to build on this.”
Last up, and to finish what had been an incredible experience was “Tiramisu” with Calamansi and Coffee.
Lisa talked earlier about stamping her DNA on the construction on her dishes, and this one firmly fits the bill. Her take on the classic tiramisu, but wow. It’s a far cry from the traditional pudding. Featuring the hybrid citrus, calamansi, from the Philippines, a staple of Southeast Asian cooking for ages, its flavours cut through the creaminess of the tiramisu with a tart combination of lemon, lime and orange. The flavours are a far cry from the Treviso original, but nonetheless another excellent dish.
And what would such an incredible feast be, without finishing with a cheeseboard.
In the new year Northcote will be offering chances for you to learn some of Lisa’s skills.
The Northcote Cookery School team has designed and executed an exciting, new calendar that will inspire budding chefs to take their cookery skills to the next level in 2023.
Featuring delicious tutorials and mouth-watering new menus, student guests can expect to learn the techniques and flavour combinations that have kept Northcote at the pinnacle of the UK’s fine dining scene for over 30 years.
They have lessons in: bread-making, French pastries, Easter treats (Indulgent treats and decadent desserts), BBQ The Art of Fire – (how to create the ultimate BBQ dinner party including butchery techniques and marinading).
All this, as well as gaining a unique insight into what goes into creating a Michelin-starred menu.
Lisa Goodwin-Allen said:
“We’re delighted to launch our new programme and welcome on-board new team members who bring with them exceptional skills and experience as well as a new energy and dynamic to help develop and showcase the very best of what our Northcote Cookery School has to offer. There are some fantastic recipes to be tried and skills to be shared.
“Our programmes have been so popular in the past that there have been times when availability could not keep up with demand. With this expansion, with new dates, tutors and courses now available, we hope that even more people can come along to join us to see what all the fuss is about.”