Northcote, Northcote Rd, Langho, Blackburn, BB6 8BE – Visit Now
Northcote should be a recognisable name to all northern food-lovers. This Michelin starred restaurant is based in Blackburn and forms part of a delightful country house offering luxury hotel stays. Of course, this isn’t possible at the moment, thanks to C-19, but all is not lost. Northcote has adapted to these turbulent times and has launched Northcote At Home, a gourmet kit meal box designed by executive chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen, so locked-down diners can live out their dreams of being a Michelin starred chef in their own kitchen.
Making it is as close as it gets to a night out at a restaurant right now
I was lucky enough to try out the Autumn Gourmet Box for two, available at the Northcote At Home section of their website (link below). This consists of four seasonal courses, plus a few dazzling extras, for two people for the very reasonable price of £90.
First up, the cheese bread. Bread? Big deal, I hear you cry. But hush, this isn’t just any old bread, this is Northcote’s legendary Lancashire cheese loaf and it’s outrageously good. You put it in the oven for a few minutes, resulting in a crunchy crust and soft doughy insides that run with potent cheese flavours. I eat far too much of this while I’m waiting for the rest to cook but it’s impossible to resist.
Incidentally, the box comes with clear, well-explained instructions that even I, a man who failed home economics back in the 90s, could follow without any issues. It might be Michelin star food but you won’t need Michelin star kitchen skills to prepare it.
The first course proper is North Sea cod. The dish itself brings together a gentle curry sauce, a chunky slab of delicate cod and a few inspired flourishes to scatter over the lot, such as pomegranate seeds, almonds and a tiny drizzle of coriander oil. The result is astonishing to look at, exceptionally pretty, and tastes wonderful. It’s a perfect combination of flavours, with the multi-spiced sauce lifting the fresh fish to new heights, while the final additions add just the right amount of texture. It’d be a stretch to say I made this but I can’t help feeling proud of myself.
Next, caramelised celeriac consommé, with tiny ravioli and celeriac pearls. An altogether darker dish, this is autumn in a bowl. Easy to prepare, and tastes suitably high-end. A sprinkle of the included tarragon is the final touch to make a many-flavoured starter that sets up the main.
Meticulously created and as stunning to the eye as it is to the palate
Despite being billed as for two, you’ll undoubtedly end up with leftovers from the main course (unless you manage not to scoff half a load of cheese bread beforehand), a truffle and brioche stuffed roast chicken, served with leg bolognese, wild mushrooms and Lyonnaise potato. This is stunning, no two ways about it. Cooked in a very different way to all the previous chickens I’ve roasted, it comes out perfect, with delicious crunchy skin and soft, light-white meat. The bolognese is an ideal sauce, mixing well with the tiny mushrooms and the wonderful oblong of buttery, layered potato.
The orchard apple ‘cheesecake’ is a showstopper of a dessert and if push comes to shove, probably my favourite course. The soft, sweet contents are surrounded by a crunchy chocolate shell and the whole impressive creation lies on a bed of moreish salted caramel sauce. It’s astounding.
And that’s not all, it also comes with a little box containing six hand-crafted chocolates, all various flavours including one that releases a hit of smokiness I’ve never tasted work so well before. Save these for another day though – you can have too much of a good thing.
Northcote’s Autumn Gourmet Box is a luxurious response to the pandemic. It’s as simple to cook as it gets but the food isn’t – it’s meticulously created and as stunning to the eye as it is to the palate. For the price of a reasonable meal out in Manchester, you and a friend or partner can enjoy some of the best food in the North.