2019 Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards - the shortlists
PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:58 15 October 2019
Want to know the places you should be dining out in the county? We reveal our shortlist for this year’s Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards.
A feast of fine dining and gastronomic inspiration, the Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards 2019 is a celebration of the best of our county's thriving hospitality industry and culinary champions. Our judges have spent months tasting, testing and trying to search out the very best restaurants, pubs, chefs, producers and retailers. And here it is - our shortlist of 29 outstanding finalists.
If you haven't already, then these are the places you must visit. They have made it onto the list because they are the best, our judges can attest to that. There are the classic establishments - those places that consistently put the county in the culinary spotlight - to the contemporary, new kids on the block creating a stir as well as a reputation for quality and innovation.
Congratulations to everyone who made it onto this prestigious shortlist. You are leading the charge in a county with serious clout and where competition is fierce.
There are still a few more weeks to wait until we crown the winners of this year's Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards at our glittering awards ceremony at Ribby Hall Village on Monday, October 14th. We'd love to hear who you'd vote for. Let us know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #LLFoodAwards. And watch out for our winner announcements - and a few surprise awards for special categories - revealed on the night.
In the meantime, read on, prepare to be tempted and get making those reservations.
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY STEPHENSONS
The Hungry Duck, Ramsbottom
A neighbourhood bistro serving up a taste of Lancashire - think Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire cheese pie - that underwent a big refurbishment. A popular place to eat packs a punch in a town where food is king.
You will find simple but expertly done plates where traditional dishes are given a modern take. Owner Joe Kaczmar can be pleased with what he has created - the many diners who flock here are too.
A restaurant that has revolutionised the dining scene in Rawtenstall - and attracted diners from much farther afield - this Sicilian tapas restaurant in the old HSBC bank building is no stranger to awards.
Run by director Michele Pilliteri and named after a bustling market in Palermo, it was named England's Best Italian Restaurant at the English Italian Awards.
Just a few steps away from Chorley Little Theatre, Encore is staging an impressive performance of its own. Living art installations that are a part of the décor create as much intrigue as much as the menus.
Every member of the family is catered for with an exciting choice of small plates to be feasted on as they are ready, or large plates for a more traditional starter, main, dessert approach. Contemporary British food is at the heart of Encore.
Hipping Hall, Cowan Bridge
Head chef Oli Martin's changing tasting menus include some experimental dishes created using ingredients sourced from the three surrounding areas; The Lake District, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
The former MasterChef contestant has been given the highest praise from national treasure and Bake Off judge, Prue Leith, who said it was the best tasting menu she had ever eaten. Part of the hugely successful Wildsmith Hotels group, Hipping Hall is no stranger to accolades holding three AA Rosettes and a UK's Best Hotel Restaurant Award.
RESTAURANT WITH ROOMS OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY CALYX DRINKS
Black Bull, Sedbergh
The first of two entries on our shortlist for this Sedbergh inn, this is a worthy entrant in this category. The striking rooms, some of which come with thinking baths, completely glazed bathrooms and interiors that nod to head chef Nina Matsunaga's Japanese/German ancestry.
There's a deep connection with the local area too - even the carpets are made of Herdwick wool. After a fantastic meal in the restaurant, this wonderful inn is the ideal place to rest your head.
Freemasons at Wiswell, Wiswell
Having already conquered the dining world - the list of awards and accolades they have won is very long- this Ribble Valley gem is now providing luxury accommodation that has as much wow factor as the food.
These lovely rooms, with far-reaching views over Lancashire, are the perfect place to rest after a night in the inn or at the recently opened Mr Smith's Kitchen Table.
The Cartford Inn, Little Eccleston
No matter what time of year, The Cartford Inn offers a warm, inviting and cosy atmosphere combined with the best regional food and drink.
Along with two striking studio cabins overlookling the river, they have also recently opened some new rooms which in typical Cartford style are individually decorated and ooze luxury. Their success is down to the expert eye of Julie Beaume, who owns the inn with husband Patrick.
TEAROOM/CAFÉ OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY CARVETII COFFEE ROASTERS
Puddle Ducks, Dunsop Bridge
An institution in this part of Lancashire, this much-loved tea room has recently undergone a revamp and has new owners.
The Yates family have continued the homely tradition and menus Puddle Ducks has become known for and are creating a wonderfully warm welcome for the many visitors to pretty Dunsop Bridge.
Spring Cottage, Rivington
You have to work hard to find this lovely café, up a small track in Rivington. But the search is worth it.
A booking is always recommended - they were fully booked when we visited on a wet Thursday lunchtime - demonstrating the warmth of the welcome and the standard of the food at this family-run business.
The Whale Tail Café, Lancaster
A constantly changing menu of hearty vegetarian cuisine, this is a place that has made a lasting impression over the past 25 years.
A non-fussy atmosphere, delicious dishes created from the best vegetarian, vegan and gluten free local and seasonal produce, these are home cooked meals that feed more than your appetite.
INDEPENDENT RETAILER OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY BANKS LYON JEWELLERS
TOTI, Little Eccleston
This tiny deli full of treats, from the team behind The Cartford Inn, is an example of how the finest produce should be celebrated. A treasure trove of local delicacies and international flavours, the dessert and sweet treats counter is a must-visit place.
Their promotion of local food and drink, much like in the adjacent inn, is commendable and has garnered them a loyal following.
Unicorn Grocery, Chorlton
This worker's co-operative in Chorlton has come a long way since it launched with a working group of two more than 20 years ago. This popular grocery has won a number of accolades for its work, including being named Best Food Retailer at the BBC Food & Farming Awards.
There's a focus on organic produce and affordable, wholesome food, buying direct from growers and the farm gate. A principled business, Unicorn has established a well-earned reputation for quality and conscience.
Honeywell Farm Shop, Woodplumpton
The Gornall family have been producing great meats for their farm shops for more than 40 years. This family business has gone from strength-to-strength and they have their wonderful purspose-built farm shop that not only sells a huge range of locally reared meats from the butchery.
There is also a dizzying choice of locals cheeses and other Lancashire goodies in the delicatessen.
LAKE DISTRICT DINING EXCELLENCE OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY SPIRIT OF HARROGATE
The Black Bull, Sedbergh
Style, substance and stellar food combine here at the 'neck of England'. This wonderful inn with rooms is run by husband and wife couple Nina Matsunaga and James Ratcliffe.
The foodie couple, who met working on the Manchester dining scene, have taken this old inn and gavin it a contemporary look. This combined with their determined approach to provenance and hyper local ingredients used to create eclectic menus, this is innovative dining in an unexpected location.
Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite
Dining heaven comes in the remote location of the Whinlatter Forest. Hidden among the trees you'll find this is one of the north's best boutique hotels, transformed from what once was a neglected 17th century house. Its shining star, though, is its food, which has won many plaudits along the way including three coveted AA rosettes.
Former Midsummer House chef Ben Wilkinson forages as well as putting local produce to its best use on his menus.
Rogan and Co, Cartmel
A success story in Simon Rogan's Cartmel stable, Rogan and Co earned its first star last year. It's this restaurant that, along with the nearby L'Enclume, gets people flocking from around the globe to the Lake District.
Food from Roux scholar and head chef Tom Barnes is served in the rustic interior of a pretty cottage. It is a more casual experince than its two-starred neighbour but maintains the creativity and style at the heart of Simon Rogan's restaurants.
FOOD OR DRINK PRODUCER OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY BETTAVEG
Goosnargh Gin, Forest of Bowland
If you think all gin tastes the same, you need to try those distilled by Richard and Rachel Trenchard in the Forest of Bowland.
From their stills Beatrice, Constance and Felicity, they have created a growing collection with their Signature and Dark Skies gins and limited edition blends that celebrate not only their fabulous international award-winning creations but the connection with the area around them.
Brades Farm, Farleton
Innovation is at the heart of the business for brothers Joe and Edward, who created the UK's first barista milk. It's a product that has garnered a loyal following in the coffee community - it was developed to produce the best latte art.
Determined not to be beaten by the dairy crises, the brothers have become known for their innovative approach using a blend of milk from Jersey cows they brought to Lancashire from Denmark and the family's herd of Holstein Friesians.
Gribbin & Bear, Adlington
Barbara Gribbin's dedication to the seasons is to be applauded. Once the seasonal ingredients have run out, her customers have to wait until next year to buy their favourite product. It's an ethos Barbara, who appeared on Top of the Shop with Tom Kerridge and Nisha Katona, is determined to stick to.
Customers, which include several farm shops and cafes, often sign up for a waiting list for her bestsellers including elderflower cordial and piccalilli.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY HALLGARTEN & NOVUM WINES
The Gaddum, Brockhole on Windermere
With a head chef who used to work in the kitchens of Simon Rogan and one of South Africa's best restaurants, The Greenhouse, you can expect something special here in the heart of the Lake District.
Head chef Gerald van der Walt and his team take seasonal ingredients from the gardens outside The Gaddum, named after the Manchester silk merchant who had the original house built in 1895. They create dishes for their lunchtime, afternoon tea and twilight dining menus that are designed to impress.
The Plau Gin and Beer House, Preston
The trio behind a stable of already successful pubs in Preston - The Continental, The Plungington and the Moorcock - Plau has taken its place at the top of the dining tree in the city after a three-year restoration of the building. A large choice of gins take the star role in the bar along with interesting food from around the globe causing a stir in the dining room.
There is also a cellar bar, complete with original well that was discovered and excavated during the restoration.
It was a bold move leaving one of the world's best restaurants, NOMA, to strike out on his own. But Mana chef Simon Martin has done it with aplomb in Ancoats. The opening was highly anticipated and the inventive menu and whisperings of Manchester's long-awaited Michelin star being awarded here are no surprise. Monkfish liver pie, blackcurrant wood oyster are some of the inventive dishes on the menu.
The 16 course menu put together by Martin's talented team who serve this gastronomic experience in just 105 minutes.
READERS' VOTE: OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE SPONSORED BY REGAN & HALLWORTH
Bertams, Crow Wood, Burnley
A restaurant that is constantly reinventing itself, head chef Spencer Burge and his team are creating an experience to remember.
Located in adult only Woodland Spa, an international award winning luxury destination, the food is exciting, service is exceptional and the décor is striking.
Former Acorn award winner and Forest Side chef Martin Frickel is creating exciting menus at this Scandinavian café and restaurant in the heart of the touristy Lake District.
Named after Norweigan girl Mathilde Marie Valentinsen, Scandinavian food and its culture are celebrated with simply, tasty and well thought out plates. Lots of the dishes are brimming with potatoes, cucumbers and beets that are carefully matched with fish, pork, poultry, beef or shellfish. This is food that gets people talking.
Dakota Grill, Manchester
Fine dining and feel good food collide at this city centre grill restaurant. Seasonal produce is put in the spotlight alongside prime cut steaks - the grass-fed, 35-day aged variety.
Service is warm yet efficient and is all set in contemporary surroundings.
DINING PUB OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY PORSCHE CENTRE PRESTON
The Rose and Crown, Ulnes Walton
This has been an inn for more than 200 years and with new owners, this shows no signs of waning. After a smart refurbishment last year, business is booming.
A country-style pub with a loyal local following who love the traditional home cooked food and warm welcome.
The Forest at Fence, Fence
One of the inns taken over by the hugely successful Seafood Pub Company, founded by Joycelyn Neve, this contemporary pub with rooms has a Mediterranean-inspired menu, eight gorgeous rooms and a gin still - they produce their own in house gins.
They have become renowned for their commitment to local produce as well as superb service for their customers.
The White Hart at Lydgate, Lydgate
When is a pub not a pub - when it's the White Hart at Lydgate.
A place treasured and well supported by the locals - chef Mike Shaw and his team also serve modern, innovative plates that attract diners from much farther afield. The views - it is located at the top of a hill overlooking the moors - are as spectacular as the food, service and welcome.
Bonny Inn, Salesbury
This lovely inn has gained a loyal following. A smart dining pub, which has skilled chef Michael Heathcote at its helm, has been quietly gaining a reputation for some of the best food in the county.
It's one of three superb venues created by the top chef - the Higher Buck in Waddington and Grindleton's Duke of York. His Lancastrian roots and keen eye for detail shine through in the menu where you will find glorious dishes of Lancashire cheese soufflé, steaks from the Esse grill and treacle glazed pork belly.