I love unexpected surprises, don’t you?
A call from an old friend, a bunch of flowers in the post, a cloudless sky in Manchester…you really can’t beat them.
My utmost favourite surprise however, is the discovery of something new and mouth-wateringly delicious; which is exactly what’s being delivered in the unsuspecting town of Westhoughton.
Nestled in on the high street, you’ll find Provenance; a bustling, quality food hall by day and divine, atmospheric restaurant by night. Having heard rave reviews from a reliable source, I could hardly contain my excitement when I was invited to try for myself.
Entering through the now deserted food hall, we popped ourselves upstairs, following the soothing tinkling of soft piano playing.
The restaurant’s clean, grand open space makes for an inviting and relaxing setting, the perfect ambience to settle into and escape for an hour or two.
Nestling in for a feast, we pondered the menu, agonising over the classic English dishes reinvented by chef Lewis Gallagher until finally settling on our bodacious banquet.
The Home Oak Smoked Salmon comes piled upon the thickest, pillowiest homemade crumpet.
A note of caution; order this and you’ll probably never want to eat a warby’s again.
Dotted with fresh blobs of thick mascarpone and topped with capers, grab the lot on a forkful and prepare to marvel. You’ll adore the wonderfully spongy texture of the crumpet, complimented by the fresh light flavours of thickly-cut salmon and creamy cheese; the capers add a sharp, salty bite, perfectly rounding off the dish.
Keeping with the brunch-theme of our starters, the order of Black Pudding was truly something special.
Kept company by piped polenta, poached egg and hollandaise sauce, the rich flavours of sauce and pud are softened by the creamy, mild polenta and the yellowiest of yolks.
Having had a taste of what alchemy was being created in the kitchen, we eagerly anticipated the arrival of our mains.
The level of care and precision going into each dish which is proudly carried out of the kitchen is wonderfully appreciated by all hungry diners. The appreciative “Ohhs” and “Ahhs” on tables adjacent were evident throughout the entirety of my visit – and our next course was no exception.
The King Prawn Linguine arrived brandishing a handsome row of plump and juicy tiger prawns lay on a generous bed of wild garlic pesto linguine. The final flourish was the Langoustine Bisque (sidenote: how seriously underrated and satisfying is the word “bisque”?) Poured over by our server.
The bisque is creamy with an unsuspecting kick and pairs marvellously with the delicate flavour of the prawns.
Now, let’s talk about the Braised Beef…
A whopper of a plate, the beef is set atop of the crowning glory that is a bloomin’ onion.
Creamy yet crisp polenta fries are stacked alongside, with a wonderfully rich jus just coating the plate.
The meat fell apart effortlessly, the teeniest, tiniest bit dry – but nothing an extra little jug of jus couldn’t fix.
If you’ve never had a bloomin’ onion, you need to stop reading, get yourself in a car and order one up at Provenance, pronto.
When it arrives, savour every single golden mouthful, I promise your life will be so much more richer for it.
Almost fit to burst, we sensibly decided toshare a dessert – agreeing an 80-20 divide to me.
I went for the ultimate classic.
Sticky Toffee Pudding.
I was giddy upon its arrival to see it came practically swimming in butterscotch sauce. My angst with many servings of the pud is the frugality of the sauce – there is never ever enough and the pudding always ends up being unceremoniously dry.
Not this baby though…
Rich, sticky and gooey till the very end.
I imagine by now you’re sat there thinking; “Gee whiz Frank! This restaurant seems too good to be true! Surely there must be something amiss?”
Well friend, if there is – I couldn’t find it. Not only was the food utterly sublime, but our servers Helena and Oliver were some of the loveliest I’ve ever come across.
Intrigued? Just go see for yourself. Provenance is open daily from 9am most days, serving late at the weekend until 11pm.
Find them online and book – you can thank me later!