Christmas is slowly approaching and a lot of restaurants are starting to take bookings, including Provenance Restaurant and Bar in Westhoughton. Downstairs, there is an amazing food hall which is open during the day with local delicacies and upstairs is the restaurant serving a lot of produce from the food hall. Provenance has been featured in the Good Food Guide 2017 with Head Chef, Lewis Gallagher, winning Lancashire Young Chef of the Year twice! With such an amazing introduction, I joined others at their Press Night one evening.*
Provenance has that nice balance of comfort and fine dining in one. It’s not overly pretentious but it is certainly nicer than some places I’ve eaten at. This pretty much sums up the food served too. There is great care in choosing what to cook and how it is served; it is never ‘style over substance’.
Lewis Gallagher came out periodically just after each course was served to talk at length the food presented to us. I felt this was an excellent touch as I can understand the thought process behind each menu item.
Christmas Fayre Canapes
We start off with three bite-sized versions of starters from Provenance’s Christmas Fayre Menu. First off the potted salmon which is very smooth and creamy, one for all you salmon lovers. Next up was the sauteed chicken livers with smoked bacon, in a filo case, which went down a treat; good if you like pate. The final canapé was the wild mushrooms with sourdough and chestnuts, good for vegetarians! I love mushrooms a lot but I think my favourite of the three was the potted salmon.
Vegetarian alternatives are shown above, with the same mushroom and sourdough served to everyone else, vegan sushi with toasted sesame seeds on the outside, and marinated goats cheese with pickled beetroot in filo instead.
For the everyday folk, an espuma is a foam utilising the ingredient. Normally I’m not overly keen on fancy food. Having said that, this cauliflower espuma was delightfully light and actually combined well with the granny smith apple pieces and apple puree at the bottom, complementing the texture and flavour. The tang of the apple working with the creaminess and airiness of the cauliflower espuma. This is unfortunately not on their menu.
Scallops or butternut squash bhajis
The scallops were perfectly seared and with a nice soft texture, no rubberiness at all. The butternut squash, puree and chorizo added depth without overpowering the scallops, allowing you to fully appreciate the flavour. The vegetarian option to this was butternut squash bhajis and fondant potatoes, made to look similar to the scallops, and yet stand well perfectly on their own as a dish. You can find this starter in their A La Carte menu.
The onion tatin utilises a whole half onion with caramelised onion puree and onion charcoal. I love the pattern of the half onion, but I personally wasn’t that impressed with this particular dish. Perhaps it was too much onion for my liking? I had wanted my knife to cut with ease through the tatin, but it struggled with some of the onion layers, making it more of a fight than an enjoyment to eat.
Pan Fried Cod / Halloumi
I really liked the great care and choice given over the vegetarian version of this dish and the dark plates beautifully offset the colours in this dish! The fish went well and the chorizo cassoulet and basil pesto gave a gentle contrast with the delicate flavours of the cod. I would have liked more heat from my chorizo as I felt it was slightly lacking in flavour. I also personally don’t think cod is a spectacular fish to eat. Sea bass or sea bream, please!
Duo of Lamb / Blue cheese figs
The duo of lamb was a lamb rack and rolled breast lamb with celeriac dauphinoise and red wine jus. Lamb is a meat I rarely eat, but I love it and was very much looking forward to this dish. The lamb was very nice but unfortunately, I found my dauphinoise far too salty. The vegetarian option was a salad with blue cheese stuffed figs and candied walnuts. I would have far preferred this dish as I really like blue cheese and figs!
This is a play on the “Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart” created by Chef Massimo Bottura. The Manchester tart, for those unfamiliar, is a shortcrust pastry tart with raspberry jam, then custard and topped with coconut flakes and a Maraschino cherry. Lewis’ ~Oops! Chef dropped the Manchester tart” essentially takes this classic regional tart and flips it upside down, literally. With a colourful spray of raspberry decorated across the plate, this dessert is fairly easy to consume as it’s already broken into pieces for you. The custard balances out the sharpness of the raspberry well, although more custard would not go amiss!
Christmas Fayre Desserts
These bite-sized desserts are based off their Christmas Fayre dessert menu. The chocolate orange bites reminded me of a richer, nicer version of a Terry’s chocolate orange. Very nice and I can imagine the milk chocolate tart with candied clementine which this is based on will be equally as nice.
Next, we have the Christmas pudding macarons, which are a nice take on the traditional Christmas pudding. I thought this was well executed and lighter than the real counterpart. It is a shame the macarons aren’t actually on the menu, but you can get an actual Christmas pudding when you book your Christmas meal with them.
Finally, there is the pear and cranberry pannacotta with granola, which was my absolute favourite! Anyone who has been following me a while knows that I’m a sucker for pear and pear flavoured things in food so this was a definite win for me! The pannacotta was smooth and contrasted well with the crunch of the granola and acidity of the cranberry and pears.
Overall rating and comments
8.5/10, -0.5 for the choice of fish used. -1 for the overly salty celeriac dauphinoise. Overall, I really enjoyed my evening and the food is very much deserving of the Good Food Guide. Lewis creates inspirational food with much thought and care. The staff were all lovely and the food hall downstairs is a bonus if you get time to pop round before you eat!
You can book their Christmas Fayre menu now until the 23rd December 2017! For 2 courses it’s £16 and 3 courses it’s £19!
Other reviews from the same evening, to help you get a rounded opinion of this:
Would visit again?
A bit of a stretch for me to get to, but if I’m in the area, definitely!
Address: 46-48 Market Street, Westhoughton, Lancs, Westhoughton, Bolton BL5 3AZ
Have you ever been to Provenance? Are you looking forward to Christmas?
Leave your comments below!
*I was invited to eat at Provenance and did not have to pay for my meal there. All opinions my own.