CHEF’S TABLE WITH JAMES CLOSE

Our luxe columnist and two Michelin star chef, James Close, goes on a jaunt to the best of the UK’s two Michelin-star restaurants.
CHEF'S TABLE WITH JAMES CLOSE

The start of the year has been a bit stay-at-home in terms of eating adventures. Then again, great to be able to explore the best of fine dining in this country.

Our mission was to check out the latest Michelin two-star restaurants – and a dependable old favourite. First off was Moor Hall.

Moor Hall is easy to get to – just a quick drive over to Lancashire. It’s in a great spot made for a relaxing fresh air hit.

We stayed over and dined on really exceptional food from the kitchen of chef patron, Mark Birchall. He’s a local guy who really knows his stuff and has an excellent kitchen pedigree having worked at El Celler de Can Roca, Girona and as executive chef of L’Enclume in Cumbria.

His lovely menus showcase his own style of modern British cuisine, wherever possible using produce grown on the five-acre Moor Hall site on his doorstep – or from local suppliers.

Big ticks for a standout dish of turbot on the bone, artichoke, mussel cream and sea vegetables – and a shout out to the sommelier for exceptional service.

Next up it was L’Enclume – Mark’s old cooking ground. Everyone knows of this place in the little village of Cartmel, famed for its sticky toffee pudding.

L’Enclume never gets it wrong. Attention to detail is everything in Simon Rogan’s two-star restaurant, and the whole experience was fantastic. The wine service in particular is worthy of a mention. Sommelier brings the trolley over and wines are decanted, even for one glass. There’s also a huge selection of Coravin wines – it was really impressive.

Everything on the menu is about ingenuity and you discover the best seasonal and local ingredients, handled with passion and creativity. Organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers grown on the team’s own farm take centre stage, along with the finest produce from the surrounding Cumbrian countryside. Our standout dish involved a mesmerisingly good scallop!

Third up and the destination was London for the visit to Core by Clare Smyth. In the heart of Notting Hill, the restaurant received its second Michelin star last year, and chef Clare Smyth also received the World’s Best Female Chef Award from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Clare trained in some of the most celebrated kitchens in the world. In her time as chef patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Hospital Road, her many awards included 10/10 in the Good Food Guide, five AA rosettes and an MBE for services to the hospitality industry. Notably she was also chosen to cater for Harry and Meghan’s wedding banquet. We loved the place, it has great style and ambience. It’s cool. Standout dish was ‘potato and roe’: dulse beurre blanc, herring and trout roe. This is something of a signature dish. A single skin-on Charlotte potato served with up herring and trout roe and teeny potato crisps. Potato-caviar pairing is something of a classic with the dulse (seaweed) beurre blanc adding richness. We were also wowed by a vacherin dessert – the classic French meringue dish was memorable.

Hidden gem >>

Our Sunday go-to for the past few weeks has been Fernaville’s in Whorlton near Barnard Castle. It’s a really good village pub which services a great Sunday lunch until 8pm, so you still get the weekend lie-in.

Better still, it’s really dog-friendly and our hound Heston loves it!


rabyhuntrestaurant.co.uk

Seaham Hall

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