Who would have thought it hey? Westhoughton are in the Good Food Guide; the actual one, not the Bolton Journal's version. Provenance have only been open for a year, so this is pretty impressive work. To be fair, you only have to walk through the door to see they mean business. I went when they first opened (see my Sunday roast review), and was hugely impressed by the quality of the food, attention to detail, and stunning food hall.
I went along a couple of weeks ago to try the new seasonal menu, which was explained in detail by head chef Lewis Gallagher. Anyone who listens to Lewis speak about his food will soon realise this is a labour of love, and despite being awarded the Acorn Scholarship by the Caterer magazine in 2013, and the North West Young Chef of the Year in 2012, he's a humble chap who was quick to thank and praise his team. Nice lad.
Canapes - black pudding with apple and crackling, smoked salmon and beetroot on a homemade oatcake, and game crispbreads: How pretty are these? Although very different, they all consisted of beautifully presented, seasonal produce which tasted like a dream. My favourite was the black pudding with the tangy apple.
Pumpkin soup: Call me boring, but this was my favourite dish of the evening. I'm already wondering whether I can recreate this myself. It was everything I love about the colder seasons; warming, spicy and comforting.
Scallops, cauliflower and Granny Smith's apples: Now I'm no longer a fish hater, I thought I'd give this a go. I was massively surprised that I loved it. I often have difficulty with the texture of scallops, but the caramelised, pan fried top meant that they had a bite to them that was just lovely.
Ravioli of truffle and Jerusalem artichoke: I can't eat truffle, gives me migraines. I'd mentioned it, but here it was. Happy accident if you ask me. It didn't smell overtly truffly, so I ran with it. I'd only have myself to blame if I ended up with a numb face, seeing stars. Minor numbness later on, but Hell's teeth it was worth it!
Monkfish, ham, chorizo and lemon: Another stand out dish. A perfect plate of complementing textures; crisp ham, firm chunks of chorizo, and of course that delicately cooked monkfish. All around the table agreed that this was magnificent.
In house aged fillet of beef with onions and mushroom: Look at the colour on that beef. Lewis spoke proudly about the process of ageing the meat in house so they can 'get it just as we want it'. Cooked in a water bath and seared on the outside, the texture of this cut of beef screamed quality.
Chocolate mushroom: Caused quite a buzz around the table, this one. We'd had it a few weeks previously at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival Gala Dinner too. It's a mixture of chocolate textures, including the most delicious meringue and ice cream. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate desserts, but this wasn't heavy at all, and the perfect antidote to so much rich food on a hot evening.
I urge you to go to Provenance. It's not all about the fine dining either, they do less formal lunch menus, afternoon tea, and even breakfast. They also have some cracking midweek deals, like Tuesday steak night, which includes your choice of steak and a large glass of wine, beer, or a soft drink for £10 - bargain! A lovely place run by a wonderful bunch of people with a real excitement for the task in hand.
Disclaimer: This was a press evening where we were asked to sample the new seasonal menu. I wasn't asked to say nice things. I'd already been as a paying customer, and will definitely be doing so in the future!