Devastatingly talented chef-patron, Mark Birchall, has been showcasing his skills at Moor Hall, a converted old-meets-new 16th Century manor house in Aughton for the last three months – and word is gradually getting out that the former head chef at L’Enclume has put together one of the most perfect dining experiences in the country. The earthy, sea-fresh menu takes in a lickably salty oyster bowl, unripe strawberries with cream cheese and sweet cicely, tiny charcoal pillows stuffed with pickled apple and black pudding, and creamy turbot, cooked on the bone and served under a mussel foam. Fans of L’Enclume will be delighted to find new incarnations of old favourites – the chef’s famous ‘kebab’, for example, is served at Moor Hall in the guise of raw, aged beef cubes with charcoal oil and mustard (pictured) – while other throwbacks include baked carrots with Doddington cheese snow and sails of carrot, hunks of rare Herdwick lamb, and poke-style raw mackerel with tiny discs of radish and apple. There’s no denying Birchall’s menu includes British fine dining cliches (baby herbs, wafers, snow, foam, raw meat or fish cubes). And yet nothing seems forced. I’m not saying you can’t see the work that’s gone into the menu (following a two year conversion, the kitchen is nearly as big as the main restaurant), but you can’t feel the labour, which is what makes Birchall stand out. It sounds pretentious, but there really is a natural flow to the meal. And that extends to the service. The sommelier who throws together a wine flight just for you, or a heart-to-heart with the maitre’d in the larder about your cheese board. Fortunately, with suppliers such as Neal’s Yard and Settle’s Courtyard dairies, there are no wrong choices in the fromage department. Cost wise, the eight course tasting menu is £95 (but there are at least another six additional courses as part of this), while the five course one is £65. There’s also a £35 lunch option. That’s a whole lot of money, of course, but it’s going to be a whole lot more when he wins a Michelin star or two later this year.

Moor Hall, Prescot Road, Aughton, Ormskirk L39 6RT. Tel: 01695 572511,

Thu 8 Jun
Ruth Allan
Published on:
Thu 8 Jun 2017