Restaurant review: To the manor born for a juicy steak at Brunning and Price's Haighton Manor, Lancashire
Once upon a time the settlement of Haighton or Halctun as it was originally known, was Â a farming community in the ownership of a Preston Earl.
Once upon a time the settlement of Haighton, or Halctun as it was originally known, was a farming community in the ownership of a Preston Earl.
The Norman conquests followed and it was passed from pillar to post but by 1927 was part of the estate of the Duke of Lancaster.
It became part of the Manor of Alston held by the Hoghton family of Hoghton Tower before being sold on again and again and ultimately coming into the possession of Richard Newsham, a Preston banker whose art formed the basis of the Harris Museum Collection.
In the 1900s it became an office for Whittingham Asylum and has has several owners since. Quite the history.
So when your restaurant venue is mentioned in the Domesday book, you have high expectations of atmosphere.
Early impressions at Haighton Manor - now under the ownership of traditional pub restaurant chain Brunning and Price - were not disappointing.
On a sunny Saturday evening the manor was glorious, the soft gray stone of the historic manor house itself set off in a riot of flowers and planting - whoever is doing the gardens really is doing a fabulous job. The imaginative garden design carried on around the building, setting off the rear views across the Lancashire countryside.
There is plenty of parking in front of the manor itself and to the side a generous pub garden where half a dozen people are enjoying the late sun when we arrive.
It really is an incredibly peaceful spot off the beaten track, though in reality only around 10 minutes from Fulwood by car and just minutes from Grimsargh.
But this what Brunning and Price pride themselves on, turning old pubs and buildings into atmospheric up-to-date gastro pubs you would happily drive to. I would highly advise a taxi though, the glittering array of bottles behind the generous bar with its substantial whisky and gin menu is very tempting particularly on a summers evening.
When we arrive we enter through the inviting front door into the olde worlde interior of this fabulous building which has been thoroughly modernised while retaining all the key historic features and with plenty of injected personality.
We sink into two leather chairs set around table adorned with fresh flowers while we wait for our table, gazing round at the eclectic decor and the many blackboards listing specials of the day with great attention to detail. Even the paper menus are dated - here they take their fresh food and produce seriously.
I made a few friends of the canine variety in the bar, which is dog friendly, before we made our way to our table after a bit of a wait and chasing down of staff - and we were led to the conservatory area.
I was a bit disappointed, I wanted to be in the atmosphere of the main restaurant, but on this beautiful day this area was filled with light and there were fantastic views though it was loud as we were placed next to a group booking for around 20 people including small children who has eaten and were at the running around the table stage.
Undeterred, we both ordered our food, tempura seabass with Asian salad and basil dressing (Â£7.95) and a roast tomato soup with balsamic vinegar and crusty bread.
For mains we plumped for grilled lamb cutlets with pea risotto, baby carrots and asparagus and broad beans (Â£18.95) and a 7oz fillet steak with portobello mushrooms, peppercorn sauce, tomato and chips (Â£26.95)
Both were washed down of course, with a small wine and some water for the table.
The starters arrived promptly and although there was a small mixup initially, were delicious. I had the soup which was fresh and authentic with some melt in the mouth wholemeal crusty bread while the tempura vanished in a flash. There was a slight disaster when my plus one poured wine on the table but staff could not have been more accommodating. The main courses were equally delicious and satisfying.
Stuffed to the gills, I could certainly not manage a morsel more and finding ourselves alone in a huge conservatory did not deter my oppo who managed a small dessert of chocolate tart. I drank his accompanying coffee as staff moved tables around us.
Just in time, it seemed, as we found ourselves amid a big function, guests pouring in and surrounding our table until we designed an escape.
Not great timing but it was a top notch meal and we all lived happily ever after.
As always this was an independent review and Haighton Manor staff were unaware we were reviewing. You can look up the Haighton manor website HERE