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so, what's current in the North of England?

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I'm looking for broad suggestions for the North of England. I'd better narrow it down - I'm looking for options to take my brother and sister (neither of whom eat out very much) in the M56/62 corridor. Basically one lives at one end, in Chester, and the other in Leeds so various combinations of travel are possible.

My constraints are that it needs to be for an occasion, without being too intimidating. So Red Chilli and the Indians are too casual, Simon Radley too 'fine' and Anthony's too weird. (Done Fraiche with my brother, though they are booked until the end of the Mayan calendar anyway).

I'm thinking good country eating (Northcote would have been ideal, but probably too far out of the way) but open to any suggestions. I am assuming Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Hull haven't suddenly become hotbeds of gourmet creativity.

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  1. I'm not very clear what it is you're after - are you looking for something in the style of/as good as Fraiche? You say maybe country eating - does that include pubs? Or are you after country House Hotel? You mention the cities on the M62 - are there places you know in these cities you wouldn't want to go to?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Theresa

      Sorry Theresa, I'll try and describe a bit better. Fraiche was an example of a good place because its not very grand in style and I thought everyone would suggest ebcause its near Chester where we will be absed. It is the grandness that I think they would find slightly intimidating and so that rules out the Grosvenor and (probably) Hillbark.

      I'm also conscious that most places in the larger cities are good if you are there already, but probably not worth a special trip. And I'd probably rather go suburbs or country to avoid having to take on city centre traffic. When I'm in these cities I tend to eat ethnic which doesn't really fit the occasion - though a Chinese in Manchester could be a possibility. In Leeds, I liked York Place (closed) and Anthony's but probably wouldn't go back.

      A very good pub is definitely a candidate.

      1. re: mr_gimlet

        Well, I've had a think, and maybe the following are worth a go:

        Dysart Arms - Bunbury, just south of Tarporley in Cheshire. I've not been, but it gets good reviews, and the place looks lovely.

        The Dining Room in Rawtenstall, between Accrington and Rochdale - not been, but looks good.

        El Gato Negro - Ripponden. Excellent tapas, informal, but special. Maybe a bit fairer on the Hull person than the others, as it is further along the M62 ...

        Eagle and Child - Bispham Green off the A59 between Liverpool and Ormskirk. I haven't been for a few years, but have always liked this place.

        And, even though you say you don't particularly want to travel into a city unless the place is amazing, maybe one or two places in Liverpool are worth considering:

        60 Hope St is on the up again
        Ziba, in the the Raquet Club has always been good, but haven't been for a few years.
        The restaurant in the Hilton has been getting good reviews too.

        Have you thought about Paul Heathcote's place in Longridge - it may be a bit far North, and I'm not up to date on how they are performing at the moment, but I had heard that they had got their mojo back. Also, with the closures of both Liverpool and Manchester Simply Heathcotes, maybe he is concentrating more on his original home.

        1. re: Theresa

          Just thought of another - and it's bang on location-wise: Church Green in Lymm, Aiden Byrne's place. You may have already considered it, I've not been, but just a thought.

    2. Mr G - have you thought of The Aumbry in Prestwich (Manchester way) - seem to get good write-ups elsewhere.

      8 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        the church green is excellent. not cheap, but excellent. aiden can cook and the execution is simply amazing. actually worth a detour.

        i also had a very surprising meal at harvey nicks (restaurant side) recently. having done the river room in the lowry and the terrible abode in a similar period it outperformed by quite some distance.

        1. re: marcus james

          I had a disappointing meal there last year, I thought it suffered from trying to be too many things at the same time. And a couple of waitstaff were up themselves, though hopefully the generally rapid turnover in hospitality will have caused them to move on.

          Has it now hit its stride?

          1. re: mr_gimlet

            gimlet - you mean the church green or nicks?

            of course, not mentioned, but worth heading an hours drive up the m6 would be l'enclume. yes, it is a detour, but is arguably head and shoulders above everything else in the north west. i note it placed very highly in the new edition of the good food guide. haven't been for 18 months, but can only assume it continues to drive forwards.

            1. re: marcus james

              sorry, church green. At 2hrs, l'enclume is too far and mrs_g and I are hitting the Lakes on our own on the way to Edinburgh. Good suggestion though.

              I've also had Ramsons suggested (how can you not go to a place called Ramsbottom!) and a couple of good looking pubs in the Holmfirth area.

              1. re: mr_gimlet

                i've not been to ransoms. one other suggestion (which i've also not been too)... some friends recently bought me the coco book and fergus henderson recommends a place called the angel on the rochdale road in manchester. ok, it's a coffe table tome so all the food looks fab, but it does seem they're knocking out some great traditional british food. have any other hounders on here been who can report further?

                just returning to the lakes. after l'enclume, time permitting (and assuming you've not been or already have it on the hit list), do try to get to holbeck ghyll for lunch. it's good one star cooking, but the thing that really makes it is if you can get the table in their bay window looking over windermere. a stunning experience well worth requesting at the time of booking.

                1. re: marcus james

                  I went to The Angel when Robert Owen-Brown was in the kitchen and it was very good, but I don't think he cooks there anymore, as he is now at The Mark Addy, so don't know what it is like now.

                  I would second the recommendation for Aumbry in Prestwich - I wrote about this on a separate thread if you search for it (and it's on my blog at http://www.sharmilaonfood.tumblr.com). It is one of the nicest meals I've had this year.

                  1. re: Sharmila

                    yes, i should clarify, the piece in the book was as much a profile of robert owen-brown as the place itself.

                  2. re: marcus james

                    While at the Lakes, if you happen to be near Hawkshead, try the Hawkhead Relish Company (or some such name) for really excellent marmalades, jams, relishes etc. I got hooked on them. I even use the Balsamic carmelised onion mixture on pizzas.