Saturday 11 April 2015

Dinner at The Lawns restaurant...

As I mentioned in my last post, as part of our lovely stay at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa we were lucky enough to dine at The Lawns * restaurant where we enjoyed an amazing tasting menu from the wonderful chef Matt Worswick who is aspiring to gain a Michelin Star here, having already held one when only in the infancy of his career. His prowess for creating wonderful dishes which marry exquisite flavour combinations is renowned. The Lawns Restaurant has an impressive three AA Rosettes and we were warmly welcomed by the restaurant manager James, who offered us a seat in the chic bar area whilst we perused the menu prior to dinner.
We were immediately brought two glasses of excellent brut champagne which was dry and crisp. Alongside the champagne were perfectly presented canapés of Lavoche cracker, horseradish foam, pickled pear and a dish of deliciously bitter marinated olives. We were so busy talking that we didn't really look at the menu, but we were already fixed on the idea of trying the tasting menu, since I had heard all about what a glittering showcase the tasting menu is of Matt’s culinary expertise.
 After our champagne we were whisked to a huge table at the head of the restaurant, affording us a wonderful view of the room. James explained to us that the amazing room was formerly a ballroom of Thornton Hall and I could certainly imagine why. The stunning Milanese chandeliers above lend a tremendous glamour against the backdrop of the carved wood panelling and ceiling and the simply magnificent fireplace. Also dominating the room was the cheese trolley which I had heard all about! I hadn't even tasted the Amuse-Bouche yet I was already thinking of the cheese course. Typical! Before long we were presented with a delightful slate of three miniature loaves of freshly baked bread served with exquisite Abernethy butter, churned in the hills of County Down Ireland. The loaves were farmhouse, granary and onion with onion seed. We broke them apart eagerly and they crumbled away without protest in the way that only freshly baked bread can. This is what bread should be like and it does wonders for the soul as well as the taste buds when swathed in a generous chunk of Abernethy butter!

The Amuse Bouche was an excellent artichoke ragout with artichoke crisps, cep mushrooms and parmesan foam. This was a superb start to the meal and the soft and slightly sweet flavour of the artichoke contrasted beautifully with the rich parmesan foam. We ordered an excellent bottle of chilled Chardonnay and as we sipped the sharp and dry wine, the stars twinkled in the inky sky outside and the dining room began to fill with the contented chatter of other diners who like us were eager to enjoy the superb food. The first course looked and tasted perfect, a wild mushroom tortellini was filled with crisp barley and the veal reduction and truffle oil it was accompanied by were sublimely decadent. The pasta of the tortellini was the best I have ever tasted and it simply melted in the mouth. The crispy barley meanwhile added a superb crunch of texture.

The artichoke Amuse-Bouche.

Mushroom Tortellini.

The next course was seared Scottish scallop with charred leek purée, maple glazed chicken wing and chicken 'crackling'. This was again genius as the tender and light scallop was offset by the mild onion like flavour of the leek and followed by the wonderfully sweet punch of the maple glazed chicken wing. The chicken crackling again added a wonderful texture.

Seared Scottish scallop.

Next we had an intermediate course of chicken and ham hock terrine, swede textures and cumin mayonnaise. This chilled terrine was a perfect counterbalance to the other dishes, it cleansed the palate and I loved the woody and nutty flavour of the swede against the terrine.

                                                        The chicken and ham terrine.

The second seafood dish was a perfectly cooked Red Mullet, Parmesan gnocchi, squid, basil oil, black olive purée and crumb. I do not know where to start with this as it was a revelation. The Red Mullet flaked perfectly on the fork, it takes a real skill to cook fish to such perfection and the Parmesan gnocchi and the sweet yet savoury basil oil really brought out the flavour of the fish. The slight bitterness of the black olive purée and crumb brought out the richness of the other flavours and the tender squid brought a wonderful texture to the dish .

Red Mullet with Parmesan Gnocchi.

It was time for the fifth course and we were delighted to see the beautifully presented Rose Veal, confit potato, onion purée and Morel mushrooms set before us atop the pristine white tablecloth. The veal was cooked to succulent perfection and the confit potato and onion purée added a lovely contrast which did not overwhelm the meat.  The Morel mushrooms were rich and earthy in flavour and they added a fairytale element to the dish with their honeycomb texture and cone-like shape.

Rose Veal with confit potatoes.

What an incredible selection of savoury courses we had enjoyed and it was time for a symphony of sweet to round things off. The first of two desserts was pineapple cheesecake, sorbet & roast pineapple with coconut gel. Just wow, this was everything a dessert should be, the rich cheesecake was sweet but not overly so, with a beautiful tang added by the roast pineapple and a tropical note from the delightful coconut gel. A sorbet added lightness and refreshing qualities. Suddenly I was on a desert island soaking up the sun on a white sand beach fringed with palm trees. This was such an evocative dish, which immediately brought sunny shores to the elegant and refined restaurant dining room. Bravo Matt, bravo.

Pineapple cheesecake with coconut gel.

The second dessert arrived, and I thought it couldn't possibly equal the first, but how wrong can one be? An exquisite soufflé of raspberry with elderflower sorbet and elderflower granola was a delight to the senses. The use of elderflower in this dessert was a maverick and genius touch which I had not encountered before which was simply wonderful. The soufflé was pillow like, and within its lighter than air castle, delightfully tangy raspberries awaited. The harmony between the sharp raspberries and the sweet, heady and fragrant elderflower was just divine and summer had suddenly arrived on this innocent little plate. This was served with an excellent dessert wine, the sweetness of which drew out the purity of the elderflower sorbet.

Raspberry soufflé with elderflower sorbet and elderflower granola.

Instead of having cheese before dessert, we saved the best until last and despite (pretend) howls of protest to the lovely James that we were full, we acquiesced after a split second and watched in awe as he talked us through each one (from memory!) of the vast selection of cheese on offer.
We opted for Taupiniere, a sharp yet soft goat's cheese, mild and creamy Lancashire Bomb, Isle of Mull cheddar, mature Saint Maur goat's cheese and the more daring blue-veined Montbriac and the highly-prized Epoisses de Bourgogne which is made in the tiny village of Epoisses in France and beloved of cheese enthusiasts. Once a favourite of Napoleon, Epoisses is famed for its strong odour yet creamy taste, indeed it smells so strong that it has been banned from public transport in France!   A selection of crispy crackers and nutty bread, truffle honey and various jellies complemented the cheese perfectly.

 The amazing array of cheese, yet James new the description of each one off by heart! 

Petit Fours.

After that there was even a further treat in store of wonderful handmade petit fours, such as fudge made from the Irish butter and salted caramel truffles  That was it; we were finally at an end of this lavish meal which in fact cannot simply be called a meal as this does not do it justice. What we had was an experience, one which I will never forget. This goes way beyond simply eating, although the wondrous food was indeed the star of the show and the finesse and execution of the dishes was a marvel. The excellent service and vast knowledge of restaurant manager James and his team were a joy to experience, as was the refined setting of the restaurant. Every detail was perfect and each dish was simply a work of art. Thank you so much to Chef Matt Worswick for allowing us to experience such a decadent culinary tour de force and to James and the team for making our evening so special.

Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa
Neston Road
Thornton Hough 
0151 336 3938

What do you all think, would you like to experience the fine dining of Chef Matt Worswick at The Lawns? Remember I love to read your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Until next time,



I was kindly invited to review The Lawns restaurant therefore our meal was complimentary for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own and honest.


  1. All this food looks absolutely amazing :)

    \ Indigo Lights

  2. Looks good!!

  3. Wow, everything looks so tasty, especially the petit fours. I'm also loving the elegant decor of the place too!

  4. Looks really good. Every great meal starts with Champagne.


  5. this looks like fine dining at its best right here :)

    I love how they make it like art too x

  6. This is making me hungry!

  7. Yum, that looks incredible!
    Melanie @

  8. Everything looks delicious, what a great opportunity!

  9. What a beautiful place to dine. Looks delicious too!

  10. whoa, that food is absolutely gorgeous!

  11. lovely place !

  12. OMG that looks amazing I could eat every little bit of it!

    Danika Maia