Lancashire Life Reader Lunch - Red Bar & Restaurant, Westhoughton
PUBLISHED: 19:31 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:27 20 February 2013
Jo Fielding has surrounded herself with a formidable team to run a brilliant new Lancashire restaurant. Ray King reports PICTURES BY JOHN COCKS
RED is the colour. Some of Lancashire's bestloved culinary rendezvous - the Red Lion at Mawdesley, the Red Cat at Whittle-le-Woods and the Red Pump at Bashall Eaves, for instance - are studies in scarlet. Maybe it's something to do with the name of the rose.
Then there's simply Red. Note the lower case 's' - Westhoughton's newest and most glamorous bar and restaurant has nothing to do with Mick Hucknall or even the colour of head chef Alex Worrall's barnet. His influence, as we shall see, is far more important than that.
But, as the Red Bar & Restaurant's owner Jo Fielding explained to guests at October's Lancashire Life Luncheon, the name has nothing to do with colour at all. RED, it turns out is an acronym for the venue's watchwords: Relax, Eat, Drink.
Jo's first venture is a stunning creation, fashioned from a virtually derelict former bank and betting shop in Westhoughton's Market Street. And it was quite evident to guests gathered for welcoming flutes of light, elegant prosecco with juicy butterflied king prawns, that 'fashioned' is an apposite word. Red's bar area, conceived by Jo and Style Matters Design, of Knutsford, boasts an eclectic mix of sumptuous, bold fabrics, striking dcor and luxurious boudoir-style seating and spectacular chandeliers.
The restaurant features both freestanding and boothstyle furnishing amid chic, tasteful surroundings beneath a glass atrium ceiling, which lends a light and airy ambience. This is a place in which to see and be seen. But at Red, substance is not sacrificed on the altar of style.
Jo's determination to make her mark on Lancashire's culinary map saw her head hunt a chef with a CV boasting experience at Salford's Lowry Hotel River Room, the legendary Sharrow Bay on the shore of Ullswater and Bibendum in London and recruit Michelle Chisholm as general manager, also from the Lowry.
Alex Worrall's pedigree shone through every course, for which the suppliers of the main ingredients were credited on the menu. There is pride here in what they do.We began with a superbly crafted lobster and scallop tortellini, the pasta parcel just so and generously stuffed with excellent seafood, nestling in gloriously creamy and sumptuously flavoured bisque. The accompanying wine, supplied and described by Dominic O'Connell, of C&O Wines, Timperley, was Gavi La Caplana 2007, offering crisp and refreshing apple and citrus notes.
Our 'intermediate' course brought braised leg of rabbit with chervil, partnered with another cut, poached stuffed saddle, and a lovely, smooth cauliflower gratin, signalling the kitchen's confident innovation and exquisite presentation. The wine, 2005 unoaked tempranillo from Valle de Oron in Spain's prestigious Ribero del Duero region, made for the perfect marriage.
The main course was another tour de force: Moroccan rump of lamb, thick-sliced and deliciously tender, partnered with Moutabal, a pure of smoked aubergine, chickpea salsa and excellent couscous spiked with fresh peppercorns. The components sang in complete harmony and delivered a mouth watering duet with the accompanying peppery, black cherry nuanced South African red, Simonsig Shiraz 2003.
Local rich and buttery Lancashire cheese unfussily paired with hot toast and quince jelly - some delights are best kept simple - preceded the dessert of meltingly moreish brown sugar parfait with roasted figs partnered with sweet yet uncloying Chateau Les Marnires 2004 from south west France's Cotes de Bergerac area.
Chocolatier Simon Dunn's truffles rounded off a memorable afternoon. In Westhoughton, painting the town red has taken on a whole new meaning.
Red Bar & Restaurant, 75-77 Market Street, Westhoughton, Lancashire BL5 3AA.
Tel: 01942 818123
Open: Wed/Thu 4pm-midnight; Fri/Sat/Sun
midday-midnight. Food service from an hour
after opening to 9.45pm. Closed Mon/Tue.
A la carte starters 4 - 6.50; main courses 9 - 16; desserts 5.50 - 6.50.