The Best Hotel Dining In The Fylde (March 2002)
This is an archived article from 2002.
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Most people planning a meal out don't have hotel restaurants at the top of their list. It's a shame because the Fylde boasts some excellent hotel dining options, ranging from glorious Victorian dining rooms, through stylish brasseries to isolated country hotels steeped in history. Fleetwood's North Euston Hotel is worth a visit for the stunning architecture alone. Built in 1841 at the terminus of the railway line from London (hence the name), its beautiful curved frontage is a fitting aperitif for the elegant dining room inside, replete with views over the Irish Sea. Not surprisingly for Fleetwood, the menu is big on fish and seafood (try the Lobster and Scallop Thermidor for a reasonable £17) with plenty of steak options too (Tournedos Rossini, £16.75). There are set menus for lunch (2 courses, £6.95; 3 courses, £9.75) and dinner (£19.95).
Lytham St. Annes has a couple of fine old dining rooms cut from a similar Victorian cloth. The West Beach at Lytham's 4-star Clifton Arms Hotel is a perennial favourite for special occasions, with alcove seats especially coveted. An exciting modern British menu is complemented by one of the best wine selections in the area. Table d'hote menus for lunch (2 courses, £10; 3 courses, £13.50) and dinner (£21.50) along with a new 'brasserie in the lounge' menu offer plenty of choice. The Bay Restaurant at St. Annes' Grand Hotel is a beauty - polished hardwood floor and big maroon drapes in a surprisingly airy room. Open for dinner 7 days a week and Sunday lunch, there's a set menu (2 courses, £12.50; 3 courses, £15.50) weekdays in addition to the a la carte options plus live jazz on a Saturday night. In Blackpool, Gilberts Bistro at the Savoy is another fine dining room in the Victorian style. The centrepiece is an ornate stained glass window in the ceiling. Gilberts picked up Blackpool Tourism's Best Restaurant Award for 2000, a rare achievement for a hotel restaurant.
Two of Blackpool's top seafront hotels -- the Imperial and the Hilton -- have adopted a similar approach: split-level restaurants accommodating a la carte and table d'hote diners in distinct areas of the same room. The Imperial's Palm Court was completely refurbished in 2001. In the lower section, table d'hote diners choose from an extensive traditional British buffet and carvery. Up the single stair, the Sea View has a full a la carte brasserie menu including local favourites like Cornfed Supreme of Goosnargh Duck (£15.95). Snag the alcove table if you can for its great view and the PMs past and present that will have power lunched there before you. The Hilton's Promenade Restaurant is a more modern variation on the same theme with a large carvery and a smaller, raised a la carte section. The recently launched Pronto Business Lunch is good value (1 course plus wine, £7.95; 2 courses plus wine, £9.95). Don't leave without at least having a look at the Hilton wine list -- it's an education.
It's fair to say that The Atrium at St. Annes' Dalmeny Hotel had a massive impact on the Fylde dining scene when it opened in 1999. The owners spent £1 million on adding a new wing, the centrepiece of which was the ultra-hip Atrium. Both the food and décor were state-of-the-art then and remain so now (The Atrium scooped Lancashire Life's Restaurant Of The Year award for 2001-2002). Open for dinner, the 3- course table d'hote menu is £13.50 (Sunday to Thursday) or £17.95 (Friday and Saturday). The popular Friday Night Live sessions (£22.50 for 3 courses with live music) continue until May 31. The Park Brasserie at Blackpool's DeVere Herons' Reach Hotel also provides modern cooking in modern surroundings. Twice Baked Hazlenut and Apricot Souffle (£9.55) and Trout Machher Jhal (£12.95) are far from your standard main courses and when was the last time you saw Gorgonzola Pear (£5.35) as a starter? The Park has a midweek offer (buy one main course get one free for all 3-course dinners) available Monday to Thursday from 6pm to 8pm.
Away from the coast, the Fylde has a surprising number of country house hotels that provide a complete change of pace. Springfield House Hotel & Restaurant (pictured above) is a culinary and architectural gem set in the wilds of Pilling. A favoured location for weddings, the beautiful Georgian country house contains stylish dining rooms offering top-quality traditional British food. The restaurant has won numerous awards, and was recently voted by Hi-Life diners the best-value restaurant in the northwest. Through March, you can enjoy a 3-course meal for £10.
So don't leave the Fylde's hotels to the tourists. They have some great chefs, beautiful dining rooms and enough variety to suit all tastes and budgets.
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