The Barn

Moor Hall, Prescot Road, Aughton, Ormskirk, L39 6RT, United Kingdom

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The Barn is the casual sister of Moor Hall, located in a separate building just opposite the main house. The dining room is upstairs and indeed feels quite barn-like, with a high ceiling and plenty of space. The a la carte menu had starters priced from £12 to £18, main courses £24 - £30 and desserts £9 - £14. There was a selection of wine available, but the extensive wine list of the main restaurant can also be called upon, and for detailed comments on this list please read my Moor Hall review. The head chef was Nathan Cornwell, who previously was sous chef at Champignon Sauvage.

The meal began with a couple of canapes. Cheese mousse with red onion marmalade, grated hazelnut and chive rested on a brik pastry tartlet. This was impressive, with a nicely judged balance of flavours and a delicate pastry base (16/20). Smoked and cured monkfish tail and charcuterie (chorizo, coppa ham and smoked pancetta) were also served, which were fine rather than dazzling (14/20). What was lovely was excellent sourdough focaccia, which had classy texture (17/20). There was a final amuse bouche of chilled pea soup with pea salad and lobster finished with lovage oil. This had tender lobster as well as nicely flavoured peas grown in the garden A meaty version of the same dish had pea salad flavoured with bacon mousse, the latter’s smoky flavour going really well with the peas (16/20).

Grilled asparagus came with Berkswell ewe’s milk cheese mousse, sourdough crumb, pickled shallots, capers and chive flowers. The asparagus from Spilmans farm in Thirsk was lightly cooked and had good flavour, with the sourness from the pickled shallots nicely balancing the richness of the cheese mousse (15/20).Beef tartare featured 60-day aged grass-fed Shorthorn beef along tarragon and crispy potato, nasturtium flowers, shiitake mushrooms and cured egg yolk. On the side was shallot-roasted brioche with beef fat. The beef was chopped to a nice consistency with well-judged seasoning and had plenty of flavour (16/20). 

My wife’s main course was line-caught sea bass with charred gem lettuce, fennel, celeriac purée, dill purée and a mussel sauce. The fish was accurately cooked and the earthy celeriac was a nice contrast to the mussel sauce and the fish (15/20). I had guinea fowl breast with charred leek, celeriac disk with offal ragu, morel mushrooms and a chicken and elderflower jus. The delicate flavour of the breast meat was nicely complemented by the richer offal, and the seasonal morels are always a treat with chicken. Jersey Royal potatoes on the side were lovely, being simply but accurately cooked with a touch of butter, allowing their flavour to shine through (15/20).

Honey parfait with ginger sponge, pear sorbet and oxalis was a successful dessert, the slight citrus taste of the oxalis cutting through the richness of the honey and the sponge, whose ginger flavour came through well (15/20). Millefeuille of baked and compressed apple came with walnut crumble, cream, vanilla ice cream and apple gel. The compressed apple in particular had good flavour and the pastry was nicely made (15/20).

Coffee was a choice of either excellent Brasil Yellow Bourbon or the grander Jamaican Blue Mountain from supplier Difference Coffee. Service was lovely throughout, the staff friendly, professional and knowledgeable. The bill came to £122 each including a very serious glass of wine. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person all in would likely be around £85 per person for three courses, coffee and service. This does not seem excessive to me given the high standard of cooking here. I have eaten in worse one-star Michelin restaurants than this.

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