Cheshire Life Luncheon - The Nag’s Head, Haughton Moss
- Credit: Archant
The culinary prowess of Nigel Haworth’s team was showcased beautifully at the Nag’s Head in Haughton, near Tarporley, during a delightful Cheshire Life lunch
A wave of warmth greeted everyone who walked through the door of the Nag’s Head pub restaurant: a crackling log fire, along with friendly faces offering a glass of Magenta Brut champagne. It was the perfect respite from the wet and windy Haughton countryside outside. This cosy fine food pub, the first Cheshire venture in highly acclaimed Michelin-star chef Nigel Haworth’s portfolio of Ribble Valley Inns, was the destination for the latest Cheshire Life lunch.
This historic pub has been standing since 1680, but in 2014 it was sympathetically refurbished to transform it into the quintessential English pub: open beams run throughout the space, adding to the rustic charm of the tartan and leather textures and patterns that adorn the dining area. Natural light, even on the gloomiest of days, floods the pub from the large wall of glass windows that look out onto the picturesque terrace and kitchen garden – which includes a bowling green.
Anything associated with the name Nigel Haworth automatically creates a buzz of excitement. His culinary expertise has been proven again and again at the spectacular Northcote in Langho, so our guests were keen to see what delights his executive chef for Ribble Valley Inns, Bruno Birbeck, and the Nag’s Head head chef, Tom Pickering, had concocted. If the flavoursome canapés of deep fried cauliflower fritters and mini Cumberland, black pudding and spicy pork bangers were anything to go by, we were in for a treat.
‘The story behind the menu at the Nag’s Head is about what we do best,’ said Bruno, who’s CV includes helping the The Samling achieve their Michelin star and a head chef position at the five-star The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. ‘All the ingredients here are Cheshire-sourced wherever possible, and that’s a big part of what RVL and Nigel is all about - using local produce.’
Bruno returned to work with Nigel two years ago, having worked with him at Northcote as a sous chef many years before. ‘Now I control the menus across RVL, the development and where we are buying things from. The Nag’s Head is a special place and I love coming down to work here.’
Today he was working alongside Northwich-born head chef Tom, who worked at Northcote and the Chester Grosvenor before taking up the position at the Nag’s Head. ‘It’s brilliant to work here, rewarding but hard work. My favourite thing to cook is game, so I love it when that’s in season. I do take my chef’s hat off when I am home though and let my mum cook!’
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To whet our appetite, the first course was a seafood platter to share. A medley of fresh fish was presented, including Cheshire smokehouse smoked salmon, warm Morecambe bay shrimps and crispy east coast squid – which had a tickle of chilli. My favourite was the smoked haddock quail Scotch egg, a beautifully moreish dish that was a refreshing change to the picnic classic. A crisp and aromatic glass of Riesling complimented the fishy flavours nicely.
Succulent British 28 day aged top rib followed as the main course, cooked to perfection and pink in the middle. This was accompanied by an oxtail suet pudding – which for many on my table was the star of the show. Packed full of rich flavours, the meat wasn’t overpowered by what can often by a stodgy suet pastry. Smoked marrowbone mash with glazed heritage carrots and red wine sauce rounded the dish off.
When dessert arrived, we were questioning whether we could possibly fit anything else in. However it was impossible to resist the lemon curd treat, topped with a light browned meringue which was reminiscent of just melted marshmallows. Haughton honey garnish and crumbled ginger biscuits added a different texture, and a touch of berry coulis complimented the citrus but cut through the sweetness of the meringue.
Over coffee and petit fours, we learnt that Ribble Valley Inns have recently acquired a second Cheshire site in Great Warford, just outside of Alderley Edge. Murmurs of excitement rippled around the room, as it means Cheshire folk would soon have twice the reason to dine out. I have a feeling the Nigel Haworth’s assault on the county has only just begun…
From the menu
Deep fried cauliflower fritters with curried mayonnaise
Mini bangers: Cumberland, black pudding and spicy pork with mustard mayonnaise
Seafood platter to share: Cheshire smokehouse smoked salmon, warm Morecambe bay shrimps, crispy east coast squid, smoked haddock quail scotch egg, pickled cucumber, lemon, beetroot relish, horseradish, homemade loaves and Cheshire butter
British 28 day aged top rib with oxtail suet pudding, smoked marrowbone mash, glazed heritage carrots and red wine sauce
Lemon curd with Haughton honey and ginger biscuit
Magenta, Brut, Épernay, France NV
Riesling, Dr Loosen, Germany 2013
Ciconia, Herdade de São Miguel, Alentejano Portugal 2013
Mon - Fri: 12 - 2pm, 5.30pm - 9pm (Fri 9.30pm)
Sat: 12 - 9.30pm
Sun: 12 - 9pm
Bank Holidays: 12 - 9pm
The Nag’s Head, Long Lane, Haughton Moss, Near Tarporley, Cheshire, CW6 9RN
Telephone: 01829 260265, www.nagsheadhaughton.co.uk