A Chef’s Guide To Lancashire

By Ellie Smith

8 months ago

Jeff Marshall's food guide to the northern region


Home to a bountiful natural larder, Lancashire is a haven for chefs – and, consequently, for foodies. The North West England county is home to some of the UK’s most prestigious fine dining restaurants, as well as numerous cosy gastropubs and under-the-radar neighbourhood eateries. Here, local chef Jeff Marshall, who owns the recently opened Lancaster restaurant Now Or Never with his wife Nichola, shares his top recommendations for the best restaurants in Lancashire.

A Chef’s Guide To Lancashire

Jeff Marshall

Jeff Marshall

Jeff Marshall, Philip White Photography

Tucked away on a cobbled street in Lancaster’s historic quarter, Now Or Never is the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Jeff and Nichola Marshall. Jeff earned his stripes working in the private dining sphere, while Nichola has a background in hospitality, and Now Or Never is their first joint venture.

Opened earlier this year, the dining room has space for just 20 guests, with an open kitchen allowing a front row seat to the action. Dishes are made using hyper-seasonal ingredients from local producers, such as asparagus from Claremont Farm on the Wirral, scallops from Orkney, and lamb from the southern Lake District fells. A monthly changing tasting menu is paired with biodynamic and organic wines, alongside beers and spirits from UK producers. 

Plate of food at Now Or Never restaurant in Lancaster

Best Restaurants In Lancashire: Jeff Marshall’s Pick

The Barn at Moor Hall, Aughton

Headed by the indomitable Mark Birchall, Moor Hall sits right up there with the country’s absolute best. The relaxed atmosphere belies the world class food on offer, knowledgeable and engaging chefs share insider titbits that really enhances the entire experience. If you’re into your wine, then there’s a wine list that even the Rothschild’s would be envious of. Oh, and by the way, my father-in-law did the plumbing, so check out the quality of that toilet flush. 

Prescot Rd, Aughton, Ormskirk L39 6RT, thebarn.moorhall.com

Cartford Inn, Great Eccleston

Epitomises all that a country pub should, but just does it that little bit better than you expect. Its rural Lancashire riverside location is perfect for that Sunday morning stroll, followed by something really special to eat. Show me a pub in the North of England knocking out a proper Fruits de Mer, the kind you’re finding on the French Atlantic coastline. 

Cartford Ln, Preston PR3 0YP, thecartfordinn.co.uk

Bowland Beer Hall, Clitheroe

Imagine an old mill, throw in an on-site brewery and the largest variety of craft beers you could imagine. Add a proper pub style menu of honest Northern food, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. 

Holmes Mill, Greenacre St, Clitheroe BB7 1EB, jamesplaces.com

Nichola Marshall

Nichola Marshall, Philip White Photography

Rise, Preston

As a sucker for brunch (as an owner of Journey Social in Lancaster), it’s hard to look past Rise in Preston. Knocking out restaurant quality daytime food, it’s no wonder that they’re always packed to the rafters. If you can’t help but take a cheeky Insta snap of your food before you tuck in, then this is the place for you. 

15 Miller Arcade, Preston PR1 2QY, risebrunch.co.uk

Bistro Verite, Southport

Hailing from Southport, I’m back there often enough visiting family to make this a personal favourite. They really understand the title of bistro and serve up some stunning dishes that make you really appreciate the simplicity of properly done French cuisine, a little slice of family run Parisian bistro life in the North of England. Think Moules Mariniere and tarte tatin, bliss. 

7 Liverpool Rd, Birkdale, Southport PR8 4AR, bistrotverite.co.uk

Hodgsons Chippy, Lancaster

OK, from the start this clearly isn’t a restaurant, but trust me, if it was you’d happily sit and eat your fish and chips here. They’ve been National Fish and Chip Shop Of The Year winners, so it doesn’t get much better than that. Everything is cooked fresh as a daisy in front of your eyes.

96 Prospect St, Lancaster LA1 3BH, hodgsonschippy.co.uk

Levens Hall, Levens

I’ll stretch the Lancashire boundary a smidge here, back to the old County Palatine lines, but it’s worth it for Levens Kitchen. Headed up by Head Chef Robert Stacey and Tom Kilshaw out front; Levens Kitchen absolutely excels at just about everything. It’s certainly our go-to for just about any, and every, occasion. Oh and whilst you’re there, don’t forget to tour the 13th century manor house and gardens.

Kendal LA8 0PD, levenshall.co.uk

Mowgli, Preston

Having eaten at the original Mowgli in Liverpool back in 2014, I was always curious to see if the original spark of homecooked Indian street-food was still there; and yes, it’s there in abundance, authenticity and not forgetting bags of flavour. A proper city restaurant, with achingly cool decor to match.

Miller arcade, 1-4 Church St, Preston PR1 2QY, mowglistreetfood.com