Lancashire Life Lunch - Tom at 101, Southport

It may have all started in Cheshire but the owner of Tom At 101 decided to spread his wings in Lancashire. Emma Mayoh reports<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

There may have been a few nervous mutterings in Southport when news spread that Tom Rogers was in town. The former executive chef turned restaurateur has spent the past six years dominating the restaurant trade in Stockton Heath, near Warrington.

Fatigued with working for someone else he opened up Tom At 101 in the Cheshire village when there was only a smattering of dining venues. But even with an influx of more places to eat, including a many national names, Tom’s restaurant has kept its flagship status.

He may have already won over the Cheshire set - Tom At 101 received a prestigious Restaurant of the Year award at the Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards - but now, it is time to curry favour with the food loversof Lancashire. And the challenge comes in a much larger location. Southport offers competition. The influx of millions of visitors every year supports a range of restaurants, bars and cafes.

Tom’s ethos involves providing the best quality food, a friendly and professional service and a relaxed atmosphere. Like all good restaurateurs, he has surrounded himself with a winning team. He has put his confidence in operations manager, Richard Doolan, his New Zealandborn right hand man who has worked for him in Stockton Heath since the early days.

Tom’s dynamic head chef, Jason Wainford, will know the competition well. He has worked in more restaurants in Southport than he’s had hot dinners. He was recruited from the kitchens at Cloisters Dining Rooms and has already enlisted the help of some of the best local producers.

Although he admitted his nerves - it was the first big function he had done in ten years - this did not show through in his menu.

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After some sparkling Moneto Prosecco, we were treated to a starterof butter poached salmon with carrot and orange puree, lightly pickled beetroot and samphire salad.

The perfectly cooked fish, delicately placed on a bed of green leaves, came from Wesley’s Fisheries, located just one road along from the restaurant. The samphire, harvested from Southport and Banks’ salt marshes and mud flats, added texture to the dish and the light Chilean Merlot ros� was a worthy match.

Next came a roasted canon of lamb from a farm in St Helens, which won much praise from our table. The three substantial cuts of rich meat were served with a sphere of fondant potato, a delicate rosemary reduction and finished with sweet glazed Chantenay carrots and fine beans. The South African Franschoek Cabernet, a pleasing partner, won particular applause from one guest who had visited the vineyard on a recent trip.

For the final flourish came a super sweet assiette of thick raspberry milkshake and a counter-pointing classic lemon posset that added a welcome sharpness alongside a rich and sticky chocolate brownie.

Tom si now determined to prove there in a place for him in Southport. I’m sure the guests at this Lancashire Life luncheon will need no more convincing. Tom At 101, 9b Hoghton Street, Southport, PR9 0TE.Tel: 01704 544210,

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