What: A relaxed 65-cover restaurant in - yep, you guessed it - a former barn at the recently opened Moor Hall in Aughton, West Lancashire. The Barn’s USP is its high levels of self-sufficiency - it will soon be producing its own cheese, cured meat and beer.
Who: Former Simon Rogan lieutenant Mark Birchall, who along with business partners Andy and Tracey Bell launched the restaurant with rooms last spring. Birchall attracted a Michelin star for his seasonal British cooking at Moor Hall’s flagship restaurant The Dining Room in October. The Barn’s head chef is Aaron Harris, whose CV includes London’s Sixty One Restaurant and catering company Plate.
The vibe: Adjacent to the main manor house, The Barn lets the original building do most of the talking with its gnarled old beams and pleasingly skew-whiff exposed brickwork. There’s an open kitchen to the rear and a large bar to the right. Light wood panelling on the kitchen counter and bar complements the darker beams and the dining chairs are shod in dark brown leather.
The food: The Barn offers a three-course set menu at £23 (or two courses at £19) at lunch and a more extensive a la carte menu in the evening. It's pretty affordable given the calibre of the chef with most starters around £8 and mains from as little as £12. Starters include mushroom risotto, marrow and crispy chicken wing and baked scallop, leek and potato while main course dishes include crispy pork belly, roasted cauliflower, onion and smoked broth as well as hake, spinach, potato puree and tartare butter sauce. Desserts include carrot cake, salted caramel, walnut and gingerbread ice cream; and chocolate delice with almond and bitter orange. A selection of aged steaks served with chips and a selection of sauces make the offer even more approachable.
Barn find: Birchall's more casual counterpoint to his Michelin-starred flagship
And another thing: Over the next few months, the ground floor of The Barn will become home to a small dairy, bakery, meat-aging and curing room and a mini brewery that will supply both the restaurants at Moor Hall. This coupled with the estate’s extensive gardens will see the operation become increasingly self-sufficient over the coming years.
Prescot Road, Aughton, Lancashire