Lancashire Life Lunch - Red Bar at Westhoughton
PUBLISHED: 13:35 19 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:03 20 February 2013
The team at this award winning restaurant refuses to rest on their laurels. Roger Borrell reports
The first time we staged a readers luncheon at Red Bar and Restaurant in Westhoughton, owner Jo Fielding made a pledge. Next time we got together, she said, would be to celebrate her establishment winning the Lancashire Life Food & Wine Awards.
Well, as my granny used to say: They cant hurt you for dreaming
So there we were back at Red some 18 months later and draped across the entrance was a huge crimson banner announcing that Red was the home to the Lancashire Lifes Restaurant of the Year award. Oh well, granny was never that bright.
If wed expected to find Jo a picture of told-you-so contentment, we were going to be disappointed. She revealed the next challenge was to win the award this year, too. It was with some trepidation that we broke the news that the rules dont allow restaurants to win two years on the trot. Others had to have a chance.
However, if the rules were different, Red would certainly be a contender.
If anything, the heights of culinary excellence reached by dynamic chef Alex Worrall and his team have gone up a notch.
He was recruited from the highly-regarded kitchen at the Lowry Hotel and he now has an extremely capable young deputy in the shape of Dan Cross. The fact they both sport shocks of red hair is not a qualification for employment at the Red Bar, insisted Jo.
What is clear is that, like all good managers, she has surrounded herself with a winning team, completed by the efficient-yet-friendly manager, Michelle Chisholm.
Before restaurateurs with vacancies plan a dawn raid, you should be
warned that Jo protects her team with the tenacity of a hungry tigress. Shes every inch a lady but, unless you have a sound record in are-knuckle fisticuffs, I really wouldnt bother trying to pinch her staff.
Besides, they all seem to genuinely enjoy working there and that passion comes through in the dining room and on the table.
After some sparkling South African rose from C&O Wines, of Timperley in Cheshire, we were treated to a starter which was an abstract work of art. In a little pool of vibrant pea soup sat black pudding, scallop pasta and a sauted frogs leg accompanied by a Viognier Reserve from Chile.
Next came a beautifully made rabbit pie with flaky pastry and delicate meat in a rich sauce. The Coteaux du Rhone Prince Noir was a worthy match.
The main course provided the kitchen team with the opportunity to stretch their skills still further. A lovely piece of braised neck of lamb didnt need to be troubled by the knife while a loin chop, glazed sweetbread and white bean puree made this a dish which would please any food awards judge.
It came with an interesting and deep-flavoured Chateau Kefraya from the Lebanons Bekka Valley.
Fresh goats cheese baked with honey and beetroot puree and Clafoutis with pear ensured lunch finished with a drum roll and cries of Bravo!
Red Bar and Restaurant,
75-77, Market St,
Lancashire, BL5 3AA.
Tel: 01942 818123