Short break - Crow Wood Hotel, Burnley
PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 January 2020
Mairead Mahon went along to Burnley's Crow Wood resort to sample the new hotel and restaurant.
Burnley has been praised as a town that makes the most of its visitor economy but, of course, any town that has ambitions in that area has to have a hotel that wows and luckily, Crow Wood Hotel obliges.
It opened in October and already, everyone from Manchester City Football team to couples on a romantic break have stayed here but for those who might be concerned that the view from a Burnley hotel window might be a bit too prosaic - worry not. Set in over 40 acres of countryside, the views belie the fact that it is easily accessible form the motorway network.
Our room, The Bowland Suite, overlooked some of those green acres, complete with a lake, geese and even a deer. We didn't have to contort our necks, or balance precariously on a chair to see any of this either, as floor length windows lined one wall.
Our bags were carried to the room by a staff member who stayed to explain how everything worked: from the heating to the top of the range drinks machine - no need to spend precious time working out which button does what, so we could get straight on with relaxing.
And what a room to relax in. Spacious, decorated in a palette of champagne, cream and mink, wardrobes with mahogany coat hangers and interior lighting and a selection of plushly upholstered seating that even Goldilocks would have been happy with. If not, then the huge bed, with its crisp white linen would surely have tempted her.
I took the chance to explore the fridge - complimentary in the suites - packed with a selection of drinks and luxurious indulgent chocolates. Indulgence is a keynote and is followed through in the bathroom, with its double walk-in shower and a wide, deep bath and an upmarket range of toiletries.
It was then time to go to Wilfred's, the on-site restaurant that is fast acquiring a reputation as a destination restaurant. It is popular with locals but people travel to it from Cheshire, Liverpool, Manchester and on the night we dined, even from Japan!
Wilfred's - named after owner Andrew Brown's grandson - is a gorgeous space with a warm grey décor and carefully placed soft lighting. Tables are thoughtfully spaced - so no enforced listening to random conversations - and linen napery, seriously top-class cutlery and a single block light decorate them.
Drinks arrived promptly, leaving just the right amount of time to browse the menu. Spencer Burge, the executive chef - who, incidentally, helped design both the kitchen and restaurant - has decided on a menu that showcases the best of local food: almost all the ingredients come from within a 50 mile radius and often, like the Bowland Lamb presented three ways, much closer to home.
Obviously, the swordfish my husband chose was plucked from Lancashire waters but the supplier is local and the fish, notoriously difficult to cook, displayed the sweet, delicate meatiness that demonstrates it has been cooked perfectly. Accompanied by tempura king prawn, chilli and garlic broccolini, potato gnocchi and a yaki soba sauce, it tempted the eye as well as the tastebuds. It can be difficult to choose a wine to go with this type of dish but our waiter suggested a lighter Argentinian Malbec; an unusual pairing but one which worked perfectly. I chose a smoked brie, spinach and leek tart, served with accompaniments of garlic potato, crispy asparagus, wild mushroom and a pea and tarragon sauce. The smoked brie had undertones of mushroom, which bonded with the other ingredients, forming a deeply satisfying depth.
Puddings consisted of a warm amaretto and pear bakewell tart, with fig and mascarpone ice cream and the star of the pudding menu: a triple chocolate sphere, with valrhona mousse and a chocolate brownie, honeycomb and vanilla pod ice cream. melted triumphantly at table with hot caramel sauce. Just when we thought we couldn't eat any more, we picked up our spoons and went back in: it was well worth the calories.
It would be a jaded diner who couldn't find something to delight: from pizzas cooked in a speciality, hugely expensive, pizza oven to the classic chateaubriand. There is something to suit every dining occasion and we're sure we'll find another occasion to re-visit soon.
Mairead Mahon was a guest of Crow Wood Hotel and Spa, Holme Road, Burnley, BB12 0RT. 01282 227722,