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Tasty dining destinations for Valentine's Day in Lancashire

Moor Hall garden apples, woodruff, birch sap and apple marigold Photo: Mark Bristol
Moor Hall garden apples, woodruff, birch sap and apple marigold Photo: Mark Bristol

You don’t have to go far in Lancashire to find fabulous food and in the month of Valentine’s Day we profile 14 restaurants where you’re sure to find meals you’ll love. From world-renowned Michelin star fine dining to hidden gems, there’s something to suit everyone.

Moor Hall

Restaurants don’t come any more special than this. A multi-award-winning dining destination from the multi award winning, and Adlington-born chef patron, Mark Birchall, if you really want to treat that someone special to a memorable meal, this is the place to go.

It will be seven years next month since Moor Hall opened its doors, following huge renovations to a former private home. Since the launch, Mark and his ever-growing kitchen brigade have consistently delivered some of the best food you can eat in the world garnering accolade after accolade – think two Michelin stars, a Green Michelin star, five AA Rosettes, a regular top spot at National Restaurant Awards and several Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards.

Today, there is the main restaurant, their neighbourhood dining destination, The Barn at Moor Hall, which has its own Michelin star, gardens that provide for Moor Hall’s kitchens and they make their own charcuterie, cheese and honey produced from bees from their own hives is served on the menus. This is a place where no details are overlooked, all designed on making things magical.

This is a dining experience to savour with course after course of food that will linger in your memory far after your visit. Snacks of their own house-cured meats and dishes like raw mackerel, redcurrant, radish and nasturtium start your visit in the bar, before a stroll around the gardens to see where much of the ingredients are grown, a trip around the kitchen to see Mark’s large team at work before sitting down for lunch or dinner.

Dishes that have been there since day one can still be enjoyed – think their ode to nearby Ormskirk with their Ormskirk gingerbread with roots and pine and their carrot dish with roasted carrots, Doddington cheese custard and sea buckthorn. Add to that menus that change with the seasons, a talented sommelier in Matthew Davison and a service that is pure theatre – several dishes are finished at your table allowing you to immerse yourself in the experience.

And things are about to get even more special this spring as seven new luxury woodland lodges will open, doubling the amount of accommodation for guests.

moorhall.com

Aven

There was a time when eating out in Preston meant mostly chain restaurants. Today, there are several independent restaurants, bars, cafes and supper clubs making the city a tasty place to eat and drink. One of the best is Aven, a tasting menu led, three AA rosette restaurant serving modern British dishes that are big on flavour and reflect the rich smorgasbord of produce available in the county.

There is a talented team at the helm of this promising Preston restaurant – think former Hipping Hall head chef Oli Martin, former Roots head chef who gained the restaurant its first Michelin star, Sean Wrest, front of house hero Samantha Haigh and restaurant director Alex Blamire. Together they are setting the standard for the dining delights on offer in the former 263 Restaurant.

avenrestaurant.com

Great British Life: Fine dining at the Freemasons at Wiswell Photo: Freemasons at WiswellFine dining at the Freemasons at Wiswell Photo: Freemasons at Wiswell

Freemasons at Wiswell

Officially named one of the most romantic restaurants in the UK, this is the perfect gourmet break and Valentine’s getaway. A Lancashire Life Restaurant with Rooms Food and Drink Award winner, Freemasons at Wiswell is all you want from a romantic foodie break away. Located in tiny Wiswell village, at the foot of Wiswell Moor in the Ribble Valley, owner and chef and longstanding Lancashire hospitality hero Steven Smith and his team are creating culinary heaven in their multi award-winning dining pub. For an even more special experience, take a seat in the heart of all the cooking action at Mr Smith’s Chef’s Table and Kitchen Bench.

Even better news is they have gorgeous rooms to stay in with deep, roll top baths to sink into while you look over the quaint rooftops to the stunning scenery beyond.

freemasonsatwiswell.com

Sō-lō

It didn’t take long for Michelin inspectors to realise this gem of a place in Aughton was worthy of a coveted star. Run by chef patron Tim Allen and wife, Magali Duclos, who looks after front of house, together they have managed that special balance of being a place beloved by locals as well as one where food lovers will travel. It would be ab apt place to visit for Valentine’s as Tim and Magali, with their young and talented kitchen team, have poured their heart into making Lancashire Life Restaurant of the Year, Sō-lō, a success with food provenance the key ingredient to their menus. Expect meats from the multi award-winning Butcher Farrell’s Meat Emporium, based in nearby Bispham, Bickerstaffe’s Royal Oak Organics, Lemken Nurseries in Hesketh Bank as well as Nelson-based food wholesalers Wellocks, who supply some of the best chefs in the country.

restaurantsolo.co.uk

Eight at Gazegill

The finishing touches are being made to this new countryside dining experience, set to open in the spring, leaving this perfect as a Valentine’s treat to plan for another day. On the land at multi award-winning Gazegill Organics in Rimington, Doug Crampton, former James Martin Manchester’s executive chef, is working with Gazegill’s owners Ian O’Reilly and Emma Robinson, to combine their passions for local, seasonal and organic food along with sustainability and nature-led farming to create a restaurant that will celebrate organic meat from the farm as well as from local artisan producers. Taster events at the end of last year gave a sneak preview of dishes including fermented potato flat breads, the finest charcuterie and organic sirloin with bone marrow and truffle jus.

Eight at Gazegill is holding a handful more taster events including Taste of Gazegill nights on February 10th and 17th with a five course tasing menu available on Valentine’s Day.

gazegillorganics.co.uk

Parkers Arms

Well worth the foodie pilgrimage to this quiet corner of Lancashire in Newton in Bowland, your efforts will be rewarded with dishes and menus – that sometimes change twice a day - filled with seasonal and local produce that celebrate the finest local ingredients and making the most of every part of food when they are at their peak. With a roaring fire and gorgeous views and walks outside, there are few places that conjure up romance more than here.

Our Dining Pub of the Year in our Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards, the accolades just keep on coming for super chef Stosie Madi and her small but formidable team. Stosie, along with business partner Kathy who manages front-of-house, and Kathy’s brother AJ on the bar have been creating a warm welcome for more than 15 years. Their Everyone from the Top 50 Gastropub list who placed it at number one to the National Restaurant Awards, who names ‘the Parkers’ their Gastropub of the Year, has extolled the many virtues of this lovely rural dining destination.

parkersarms.co.uk

Great British Life: Plates at Sexy Fish Photo: Chris TerryPlates at Sexy Fish Photo: Chris Terry

Sexy Fish

Gather a group of your best pals and head to one of Manchester’s hottest new openings, Sexy Fish. Located in the former Armani building on Deansgate, this Asian restaurant and bar that also has restaurant in London and Miami, arrived on the city’s food and drink scene with a bang. Fun and stylish interiors like huge scale Damien Hirst sculptures and a giant fish tank that forms a backdrop to their private dining area, their high-end dishes arrive with as much spectacle as the décor – think dry ice, three tier desserts, a carefully curated cocktail list and yellowtail sashimi so good you’ll still be thinking about it months later. A must-book for fish and seafood lovers – the clue is in the name. Don’t miss the king crab and bone marrow. If meat is more your thing, the wagyu beef is an excellent option.

sexyfishmanchester.com

L’Enclume

A restaurant that needs no introduction. This three Michelin star restaurant is the place to take a real foodie this Valentine’s Day. For more than two decades Simon Rogan has been creating extraordinary food in his Cartmel dining destination– his work was recently recognised in the 2024 New Year’s Honours List when the chef was awarded an MBE for services to the food industry. Enjoy stunning dishes from tasting menus curated by Simon and his team, including new executive chef, Paul Burgalières. All in one of the prettiest corners of our region. What could be more romantic?

lenclume.co.uk

Northcote

The Michelin star restaurant, which has held the accolade for more than two decades, and is the location for the impressive food event, Obsession, is a dining mecca for people who enjoy the best food. A Lancashire institution, executive chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen and her team serve innovative, well-thought-out dishes that diners fall in love with. For something extra special, book the Chef’s Table where you can see all of the kitchen action and culinary masterpieces created from your own room in the kitchen. Then wander just a short way for all the luxe in one of Northcote’s gorgeous rooms.

northcote.com

Great British Life: Stunning dishes at the Walled Garden Photo: Eddie ShepherdStunning dishes at the Walled Garden Photo: Eddie Shepherd

Walled Gardens

Experience awe and delight at the sheer wizardry of plant-based chef Eddie Shepherd’s food. Based in the downstairs of his own home in Whalley Range, the multi award-winning chef dedicates his days foraging and sourcing the finest ingredients which he then crafts into stylish, elegant and, most importantly, mind bendingly tasty, dishes for his eight-seater restaurant.

All of the food is prepared and served in the underground restaurant by Eddie, whose pioneering approach to modern plant-based cooking has attracted the attention of his diners as well as the likes of the We’re Smart Green Guide that named Walled Gardens one of the best in the world.

But this one will have to be reserved as a special Valentine’s gift – Eddie’s restaurant is booked for at least six months – perfect for planning a romantic autumn evening of feasting.

veggiechef.co.uk

Gilpin Hotel and Lake House

There are few settings more romantic than the gorgeous surroundings of this luxury hotel. You’ll feel the love here as the whole hotel and separate lake house are run by the Cunliffe family and their close-knit team who pull out all of the stops to make diners feel welcome. And the food is just as spectacular as the setting with former Fat Duck at Bray chef Ollie Bridgwater leading the kitchen at SOURCE and multi award-winning chef Tom Westerland at the helm of Gilpin Spice, a casual pan Asian restaurant with bold flavours and palate pleasing plates. Feel the love a little more with a stay in one of Gilpin luxury rooms with hot tubs – some even have their own ensuite spa. Or get cosy at the Lake House, a bolthole with just six bedrooms overlooking a lake and 100 acres of private grounds.

thegilpin.co.uk

8 by Andrew Sheridan

The awards came fast for chef Andrew Sheridan when he moved his restaurant, 8, from Birmingham back to his home city of Liverpool last year – think three AA Rosettes, a listing in the Michelin Guide and being named Best Restaurant in the UK at the British Restaurant Awards. Tasting menus are served in the heart of the kitchen with each mouthful based on their values of simplicity, quality produce, distinct flavours. They says their menus aren’t for the faint hearted so this is probably one for those food lovers who enjoy a taste adventure.

restaurant8.co.uk

Rum Fox 

Chef Bob Geldard has earned his stripes at some of Lancashire’s most beloved pubs and restaurants – think The Duke of York in Grindleton and Waddington’s Higher Buck Inn before he took on the former Buck Inn, also in Grindleton, last year. The small Ribble Valley community hadn’t had a pub for some time until Bob took the reins. Since opening last year, diners have flocked to the Rum Fox for everything from seasonal plates, stellar tasting menus and pub classics done with finesse. The perfect place for a cosy Valentine’s date with superb food without the fuss.

therumfox.com

Great British Life: Food at Fenix Photo: FenixFood at Fenix Photo: Fenix

Fenix

Looking to impress then Fenix in Manchester City Centre will do all of this and more. Stylish ash-toned and marble interiors, reminiscent of a Grecian beach-side hotel, mixed with menus full of the best Greek-Mediterranean food from executive head chef, Ippokratis Anagnostelis, who has built his reputation in fine dining establishments in Athens and Mykonos, and head chef, Zisis Giannouras. Tuck into everything from fresh pita served with grilled aubergine to hearty portions of spiced beef meatballs, grilled octopus with Aegean fava beans, shrimp ‘Saganaki’ and Wagyu beef dumplings. Jaw-dropping Fenix is from the same team behind dining destination, Tattu, the independent, family run restaurant group, Permanently Unique.

fenixrestaurants.com



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