We recently stayed at Thornton hall hotel, a gorgeous (and independent) 4* hotel in The Wirral, as treat for my OH’s 30th. The hotel is really charming and more like a 5* than 4, with a cosy atmosphere, modern spa with outdoor hot tubs (and snow cave!!) and really friendly staff. Our first room didn’t have any hot water which was a bit of a let down, but the staff were on hand to upgrade our room quickly and without any fuss.
The hotel has two restaurants – one a cafe/bar that is more moderately priced serving tapas and the other, the Lawns Restaurant which is definitely fine dining. The raving TripAdvisor reviews meant we had to try it.
I ordered the Early Asparagus with truffle and Berford brown yolk. Berford brown is a type of chicken (I didn’t know that either). For my main I chose the Gressingham duck with endive, red onion and cranberry. My partner had the Shitake mushrooms with black garlic and chestnut, followed by pork loin with Lyonnaise potatoes and apple gel.
After some appetisers in the bar we were taken to our table and after another amuse bouche and some onion bread, our starters came. We were both presented with small bowls with raw ingredients, and then a delicate hot broth was poured over the mushrooms and an asparagus veloute poured over asparagus and egg yolk. The result was small amounts of very fresh, very tasty (very green) asparagus “soup”. The mushrooms were nutty and garlicky and swimming in their rich broth.
Then we had some rosemary and sun-dried tomato focaccia with French salted butter, for me personally this was too salty, as the bread was quite heavily salted and the butter even more so, but my partner LOVED it.
Onto the mains – the duck was perfectly cooked and pink, a butter like texture with a really tasty sweet potato crisp and cranberry jus. My only complaint was that there wasn’t enough of it! But between the different amuse bouches, the starters and the breads it was quite a filling meal. The pork loin was beautifully presented and again perfectly cooked, the apple gel was punchy and flavoursome, though the portion of potato was relatively small.
We then simply had to try the cheese trolley. We were given a choice of five cheese – one from each section of hard, soft, goat, washed rind and blue. We went for the Lancashire Bombe, the Epoisses, an ash rind goat’s cheese, a Stilton and Winslade – the star of the show – which I’d never heard of before. The Epoisses was so strong, I’ve never tasted cheese so ripe! The overall selection of cheeses they had was overwhelming, if you’re a cheese lover like me it’s worth visiting this restaurant for this cheese trolley alone.
My only gripes was that the atmosphere in the restaurant could be a bit less… cold. The music was barely audible and the room quite quiet, with diners in hushed conversation, almost library-like.
At 2 courses for £34 each, plus extra for cheese and considerably extra for wine, The Lawns Restaurant certainly isn’t cheap, but as far as the food and service is concerned it really does feel good value for money. The ingredients are carefully selected and someone has put real thought behind the menu, and that cheese trolley was to die for.