A gourmet oasis ideally located in the north-west (London 220 miles, Perthshire 220 miles). Half close your eyes and this solid 1880s Victorian mansion could indeed be a restaurant with rooms, though in fact it offers all the comforts of a top country hotel.
But the food is the thing here, Nigel Haworth having won many local and national awards, most recently BBC’s Great British menu accolade. His cooking is firmly rooted in local ingredients, but its edge is the fresh, clean flavours and tasteful and imaginative rather than trendy presentation: few, if any, of those fancy smears of sauce. A cheese-flavoured ice cream partnering the summer pudding arrived in a cone on a wooden rack. Nigel’s famous Lancashire hot pot came in its own small oven-proof dish – you help yourself. The service is charming, the atmosphere friendly and food- and wine-oriented, much influenced by Nigel’s long standing collaborator, Craig Bancroft, a great enthusiast.
Bonhomie aside, these two are shrewd, determined marketeers and managers of staff who have built up a formidable local reputation. Recently re-done bedrooms are a designer’s nirvana. The location is pleasant, but not outstanding, though the Forest of Bowland’s attractions are minutes by car.
Note the special rates on Sunday and Monday nights. Fair prices, and for kids, mini-gourmet portions. Breakfast outstanding.