Seven years ago Mr Frivolitea and I went to Northcote, where Nigel Haworth is the Chef Patron, for our 10th wedding anniversary. We still talk about it. The gourmet tasting menu we had was the stuff of dreams. Champagne and canapés then dish after dish of stunning food, I can still vividly remember the salad! I couldn’t believe a salad could taste so good so you can imagine when the opportunity arose to eat Nigel’s food again in our own city we leapt at the chance.
The opportunity to hear Nigel himself talking about the food at the start of the evening made the night even more special. Once seated in the dining room we started with canapés of sausage roll and ham hock arancini from the Star Inn the City team. The arancini were particularly good and I think Mr Frivolitea could have easily eaten a bowlful.
We then started on the five course menu designed by Nigel to reflect the flavours of Northcote, cooked by Nigel, his son and the Star Inn the City team.
First up was the Goosnargh chicken liver parfait with grape jelly. The parfait was wonderfully whipped and light in texture with the grape jelly adding a nice acidity to the dish.
Next was the treacle cured salmon, seared west coast scallop, pickled ginger and caviar. The salmon had been cured for 18 hours and I really loved the asian flavours in the dish. The simple presentation really allowed the salmon to be the star of the show.
We then had caramelised celeriac and chestnut ravioli, celeriac tea and trompettes that were topped with a little dashi caviar. This was a really clever dish. The chestnut ravioli had a particularly lovely flavour and consommé that melted when poured over the dish gave a real depth of flavour.
The main course of butter puff pastry wrapped lamb, spinach and crosne artichokes used lonk lamb, indigenous to Lancashire stuffed with a chicken and mushroom mousse. The lamb was cooked to perfection and the buttery puff pastry made this a real treat of a dish.
The final course of Bramley apple cheesecake with Northcote blackcurrants, liquorice, herbs and flowers was a particularly favourite of mine. The cheesecake was so beautiful I almost didn’t want to eat it. It had a wonderfully fresh flavour and was a lovely end to the meal. The skill that went into the dish and the use of seasonal fruit was a true showcase of everything Northcote is.
It was such a joy to eat Nigel’s food again and be reminded of why I loved it so much first time round. If there was any criticism of the evening it was that there was quite a gap between each course but the food was worth the wait. I think we will be looking for an opportunity to go back to Northcote (hint hint Mr Frivolitea)