Lancashire Life Lunch at Thyme at the Sirloin, Hoghton

The occasion was a lunch thrown for invited guests to celebrate the restaurant being named Lancashire Life's Newcomer of the Year 2003.  I was invited along with chef Robert Kisby, then of Le Mont restaurant in Manchester.

The Sirloin is a pub just down the road from Hoghton Tower, near Preston, the place where James I and VI so liked his roast beef, he knighted the loin. Obviously he was drunk.  Thyme is a restaurant in Longridge, also near Preston. Thyme at the Sirloin is their second restaurant, on the first floor of the Sirloin pub. Thought I'd better explain. 

It seems to be incumbent on restaurants winning awards from the <insert name of county> Life magazines, that they hold these lunches. The restaurant gets to invite half the guests, Lancashire Life magazine gets to invite the other half. The restaurant pays for everything, though suppliers can sometimes be coerced into sponsoring the event. In this case, wines were supplied by Ribblesdale Wines Co of Chatburn, near Clitheroe. Ribblesdale got some good publicity and I hope some reasonable business out of this as the wines were all very good. Most of Lancashire Life's guests seemed to be young-ish ladies who lunch, who were just there to be glamorous in the photos the magazine will eventually be published. Oh, yes, that's what the restaurant gets out of it: usually a two page spread in the magazine.


We started with Graham Beck NV Brut as an aperitif. Funnily enough I'd just been talking about a recent tasting of Graham Beck wines in the car before we arrived.
Nothing really to add to those notes. Fruit on the nose, nice light structure, good depth of flavour. Good.

Served with nibbles of Black Pudding, Spinach & Lancashire Cheese Tart.

2002 Chardonnay Hellfire Bay, Plantagenet, Western Australia
Smoky buttery nose. Rich and clean. Full, but not heavy. Finishes with spice. Very Good.

which went very well with a jolly good Pressed Terrine of Salmon wrapped in Smoked Salmon, set in a Tomato & Basil Jelly with Beetroot Vinaigrette

For main course, there was Whatever else but Sirloin of Beef, topped with a Mousse of Pancetta, Horseradish & Thyme, Hot Pot Potatoes, Vegetable Gateaux & Caper Jus. Quite magnificent beef - sirloin but cut and served as a tournedos - also as tender as fillet, but with the flavour of really well hung sirloin. The mousseline on top of it was a bit lacking on the horseradish front, though.

With this we drank 2002 Baglio Curatolo Nero D'Avola, Villa Tonino, IGT Sicily
Gorgeous nose: warm, spicy and inviting. Round and full on the palate, yet also quite light. Soft tannins on the finish. Very Good Indeed.

Dessert was a rather curious combination of two types of ice-cream: Prune & Armagnac Parfait, Liquorice & Blackcurrant Ice Cream & Honey Tuile. The parfait was a little rustic, the ice-cream, fabulous.
With this was served 2000 D'Arenberg fortified Shiraz from half bottles. I had tasted the 1999 from a full bottle recently, but this 2000 seemed to me superior: whether it's the vintage or the 375ml format, I don't know. A really very nice scented herbal nose. Blackcurrant and licorice on the palate. Gorgeous. Excellent.
It went tolerably with the b/currant and licorice ice-cream, but was massacred by the prune and armagnac parfait. Not a good match. I found the drop of the Chardonnay, warm by now of course, that I had left actually went better with the dessert.

Garstang Blue and Lancashire Cheese was accompanied by 1974 Quinta do Noval Colheita, again from halves, and unfortunately served a little too warm: I prefer my tawnies lightly chilled. A classic dried fruit and nuts nose. Very fresh and vibrant on the palate with a good balance of fruit, sweetness and acidity. Very elegant. Excellent.

Andrew Stevenson

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Last updated: 19 October 2006 12:15