The Lawns Restaurant at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa holds 3 AA Rosettes and it is also mentioned in the Michelin Guide. Last week I had the opportunity to dine at The Lawns* again, to try the new menu devised by Head Chef Ben Mounsey.
The first thing which is striking about The Lawns is the interior design, with decorative wooden carvings, an intricate ceiling and crystal chandeliers. We were shown to our table where we consulted the à la carte menu, reading through the intriguing options in anticipation.
Firstly, we were treated to smoked crackers with olive tapenade and Bresaola as a pre-dinner snack, as well as an orange and iced tea drink which refreshed the palate.
Freshly baked warm loaves of treacle and rye bread served with ground corn butter were served, which tasted amazing. I am more than a little obsessed with finding the perfect bread, and this had a deep and satisfying flavour complemented by the corn butter.
A 'snack' of beetroot with goats cheese smoke was a sensory experience, with clouds of smoke and tangy goats cheese which sat well with the beetroot.
My starter of cabbage, consommé, goats curd and scallop was filled with interesting flavours. The beetroot consommé was poured over the starter at the table and the fusion of ingredients worked well with the tender and slightly sweet scallop, while the beetroot consommé added earthiness to the dish.
My dining companion selected the bacon and egg for his starter of cheek, sourdough and mooli. The crispy bacon and scrambled egg foam were a treat together while the sourdough crisp added texture and the brown bread savoury ice cream was enjoyable. Taking a classic breakfast dish and turning it in to a sophisticated starter in this way was an impressive feat.
The second bread of olive and tomato focaccia with French salted butter was a taste of the Mediterranean with a springy texture which was complemented by the creamy butter.
My main course of tuna, celeriac, dashi and caper was simply stunning. The oyster crisp garnishing the dish melted in the mouth delivering a subtle taste of the sea and the tuna itself was a revelation, tender yet with a slight crispness which was elevated by the dashi broth and tuna tartare added a sharper flavour. This dish was so well executed, it was a privilege to experience it.
My dining companion chose the rare breed pork loin, with Lyonnaise and apple gel. The meat was succulent with a mild flavour which was enhanced by a rich jus and the Lyonnaise potatoes were the ideal accompaniment, creating an elegant main course.
The pre-dessert, based on a blackberry crumble with custard was a surprise, with a solid shell which contained sharp and sweet blackberry, delivering a taste of autumn.
We moved on to the dessert course and our first choice of chocolate with prune, Matcha green tea and lime was a revelation with an airy Matcha green tea sponge and bitter chocolate which paired well with the sweet and tangy prune.
I was especially eager to try the second dessert, for which Ben Mounsey drew inspiration from some of his childhood favourites. He came to the table in person to serve his signature cereal dessert, which was topped with a swirl of mascarpone cream. This dessert was a bowl of fun, with light flavours, texture from chewy rice crispy, a hint of toffee from the bananas and a creamy milk skin which added further charm to this whimsical dessert. I love dishes like this which break the mould of the traditional idea of fine dining which can sometimes come across as intimidating and slightly stuffy, so it is refreshing to see this new vision of fine dining from a chef.
We moved on to coffee and handmade petit fours, which included beetroot, Florentine, pâte de fruits and an indulgent pear chocolate. A perfect note upon which to conclude an exquisite meal.
Dining at The Lawns is a must for fans of fine dining and there is a choice of the tasting menu, a six course gourmet menu and the à la carte menu as well as lunchtime dining and afternoon tea. The food is a journey for the senses and the opulent dining room is reminiscent of a stately home or castle. This is a good choice of restaurant to celebrate a special occasion or simply to treat yourself to a wonderful meal.
The Lawns Restaurant
Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa
Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa
0151 336 3938
It was a pleasure to meet Ben and to experience his food. His enthusiasm shines through in the clean, refined flavours of his dishes and his creativity is self-evident, with touches of excitement in terms of flavour and presentation. This is imaginative cooking at its best, with the ability to surprise and delight in equal measure.
What do you all think, do you like fine dining and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.
Until next time,
*I was a guest of The Lawns Restaurant, this meal was complimentary. Opinions stated herein are my own and honest.