What: The long-awaited restaurant with rooms set in a Grade II listed gentry house opened this month in Aughton, West Lancashire, following an extensive 18-month renovation.
Who: Bought by Andy and Tracey Bell in 2015, it is their partnership with former L’Enclume executive chef Mark Birchall that makes Moor Hall so interesting. Chef-patron Birchall is aided by two sous chefs, James Lovatt and Lewis Spencer, with the restaurant overseen by general manager Adam Wilkinson and head sommelier Alexandre Freguin in charge of its 300-bin wine list.
The vibe: Interior designer Martin Nealon has gone for a minimal look to complement the 16th century Jacobean manor house, with muted browns and grey the predominant colours - the oak-beamed dining room has a granite floor and bare bricked walls and cloth-less tables. Proceedings in the 50-cover dining room are overseen by a huge wall-mounted stag head. This aesthetic continues into the restaurant’s impressive cheese room (yes really).
The menu: Having worked with Simon Rogan for almost a decade, it’s no surprise that Birchall’s menu showcases modern British cooking using local produce (where possible it comes from Moor Hall’s five-acre grounds). Dishes include crab with almond, turnip broth, celeriac and anise; grilled scallop with cauliflower, grains and sorrel; Herdwick lamb with Jerusalem artichoke, hazelnut and ale; and ewes milk with fennel and rhubarb. Birchall is clearly picking up where he left off at L’Enclume with a bold offer: an evening tasting menu of six or eight courses (£65/£95) is served alongside three and four course lunch menus (£30 and £45).
And another thing: Moor Hall is being launched in two stages, with a large renovated former barn that will house a more informal dining space, a charcuterie and curing room, a small dairy and a meat ageing room set to open later in the year.