Cheshire Life Luncheon - The Lawns, Thornton Hall
PUBLISHED: 13:06 30 December 2009 | UPDATED: 21:38 21 October 2015
The Lawns is a perfectly tended restaurant, as guests at this Cheshire Life luncheon discovered <br/><br/>WORDS BY RAY KING <br/><br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
Okay, here's the deal... You have 80 or so important guests coming over for lunch including the mayor and mayoress and decide to launch your new restaurant at the same time. A daunting prospect, maybe. Oh, and just one more thing...the new executive chef has been in the job for all of one day.
I have absolutely no idea what was going on behind the scenes at Thornton Hall that afternoon - suffice to say that for guests at Cheshire Life's October luncheon, served beneath the glittering chandeliers of the hotel's newly rebranded Lawns Restaurant, the occasion was as perfect as makes no difference.
The four star Thornton Hall Hotel and its award-winning spa was originally built in the middle of the 19th Century as the home of the Bamford family, Liverpool shipping magnates, on the edge of the bijou village of Thornton Hough, former seat of another renowned Cheshire family, the Leverhulmes.
Though the building - a gentleman's club before being acquired by the Thompson family some 35 years ago - has been much remodelled, some period features remain, not least in the magnificent surroundings of the main restaurant, formerly the two AA Rosette Italian Room, now named Lawns to reflect the delightful gardens that surround the hotel and provide a lovely setting for almost 100 weddings a year.
The room features a splendid leather ceiling inlaid with mother of pearl (fashioned, apparently, by Portuguese craftsmen), striking bas-relief friezes, much ornately carved oak and an elaborate fireplace - and on the day of the luncheon tables were beautifully decorated by bespoke florists earth of Heswall.
In the stylishly modern adjoining bar, managing director Andrew Thompson and his wife Suzanne and hotel general manager Geoff Dale greeted guests including Wirral's mayor and mayoress, councillor Andrew Hodson and his wife Kathy, over champagne cocktails and canapés before Lawns Restaurant received its official launch with executive chef Gordon Campbell's first menu.
And what a debut it turned out to be, for Scottish-born Gordon is highly experienced having previously worked at Rookery Hall in Oakmere, and for Michelin Star restaurants including L'Escargot in London and The Vineyard at Stocks Cross. His forte is innovative use of the best seasonal and local ingredients and our starter tuna tartare demanded nothing less than the very freshest fish, its delicate flavour lifted by a subtle touch of sesame oil, presented with a fine macedoine of vegetables and dainty leaves. The accompanying wine, supplied and described by Adrian Patterson of Tanners, was a young, light pinot grigio from the Veneto in north east Italy offering crisp floral notes, a citrus twist and a dab of honey; excellent lunchtime drinking.
The main course, poached and roasted new season's lamb was nothing short of superb: meltingly tender and deliciously flavoured, arranged alongside perfect creamy pomme purée flecked with chives and braised vegetables including a 'spaghetti' of courgette. The red wine partner provided the classic marriage with lamb, a claret sporting succulent, long-lasting pastille-like blackcurrant fruit.
A masterful summer berry pudding, choc full of delicious flavours rounded off in style; a memorable occasion that bodes well for the future at Thornton Hall.
Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu
Canaletto Pinot Grigio 2008, Veneto, Italy
Roasted new season lamb, summer braised vegetables, chive pomme purée
Chateau Montaiguillon 2005, AC Montagne-St Emilion, Bordeaux, France
Summer berry pudding
Coffee and mints
Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa, Neston Road, Thornton Hough, Wirral CH 63 1JF
Tel: 0151 336 3938; www.thorntonhallhotel.com
Lawns Restaurant: Lunch Sun-Fri noon-2.30pm; Dinner Mon-Sat 7pm-9.30pm; Sun 6pm-9.30pm.
Midweek lunch £13.95 for two courses, £15.95 for three. Sunday lunch £18.45. A la Carte dinner: starters £4.95 - £9.25; mains £16.50 - £ £24.50; desserts £5.95 - £8.95. Sunday dinner: £39 per couple including a bottle of house wine.
Lawns Restaurant is staging an exclusive weekend of fine dining and relaxation on November 13 and 14 when acclaimed two Michelin starred chef Jean Pierre Billoux from Dijon, France, will be joining the brigade. Six-course evening meal £69 per person; four-course lunch £39 per person. Details via Steve Bowe 0151 353 3706.