18-11-2014-Mitton Hall, Whalley

Whilst I have dined out quite a few times lately, they have been repeat visits to places I have already told you about, so rather than bore the chicken fillets off everyone, I have left the keyboard alone for a while. Last Friday, however, saw somewhere new. It was Sue’s birthday, and she had decided we should go out and celebrate, Who was I to argue, so I had a bit of a hunt around and came up with Mitton Hall ( http://www.mittonhallhotel.co.uk ). It is located at Mitton near Whalley, which is about 10 minutes drive from home for me, and is a very large imposing Venue, so I thought it might be worth a try for a special occasion. I couldn’t book on line, so I gave them a call and was able to book a table for two for 8-30pm, which was a perfect time for us. I was asked if it was for anything special, so I let them into the secret that it was my wife’s birthday and was informed that they would Ÿ??do a bit of somethingŸ? for her. I laughed to myself as I wondered if they realised how special the night would actually be! Little did they know, but Paula was coming too! We duly got home as early as possible from work on Friday, grabbed a bathroom each, and started to make ourselves look pretty. Sue seemed to have far more luck with this than I was having, but I tried my best, and eventually we emerged both looking fit to travel. Into the car, a short drive, and 15 minutes later we were walking across the gravel driveway of Mitton Hall having had to park the car miles away over the far side of the car park. When I say miles away, maybe I exaggerate, but in heeled shoes on a cold night with no jacket on, it certainly seemed a long way! We were a little early Ÿ?? it was about 8-00pm, but all the better for having a relaxing drink before our meal. Having entered through the main entrance, we were left standing in a massive hallway with a roaring fire, lovely period furnishings, and a ceiling that was somewhere up in the Gods. It was everything a Girl could wish for on a cold November night. Everything that is, except someone to welcome her and show her through to the Bar. We waited a minute or two, and then decided to make our own way towards the noise in the hope that we were doing what we were supposed to do. En-route, we did meet up with a rather flustered young lady who was going to ignore us. She didn’t, because I spoke to her, but other than that, she would have done. Once I had introduced ourselves, she asked us to continue through to the Bar, and said she would be back with some Menus. Mmmm, not the best of starts, but not to worry, I was sure things would improve. We went to the Bar, ordered a couple of drinks, and found some seats around a small table where we could sit and have our drinks and also get a good view of what was going on. It became obvious that in the next room there was a wedding party. I’m led to believe that if you want your wedding do at Mitton Hall, you have to join a very long waiting list, so maybe that is why the Staff were all either flustered or missing! We remained upbeat Ÿ?? there was no reason why the wedding should spoil our night, we were sure they could deal with a wedding party and a Restaurant at the same time. Or could they? Time would tell. A Waiter brought us some menus, and we shared the Team glasses whilst we attempted to read the menus and decide what we should have to eat. Whilst we were sitting drinking, chatting, and choosing, one of the lads sat on the next table to us was unlucky enough to have his drink spilt down his back by one of the bar staff as he served a round of drinks. Everyone was very apologetic, and his jacket was whisked away to be cleaned, but id did seem indicative off the level of service that was on offer. There just seemed to be an air of semi chaos hanging over the place. I was certain that Paula would be called Ÿ??SirŸ? tonight. It was just going to happen. By the time our Waiter returned for our order, we had managed to make some decisions, so we placed our order and then went and got a second drink from the bar. I was served by the same guy as the first time, and he was very polite, got the drinks right, and managed to call me Ÿ??MadameŸ?. Perhaps I would be wrong. Eventually, our Waiter reappeared, and showed us to our table. I say eventually, because it was now 9-10pm. I don’t usually clock watch when eating out, but on this occasion, Sue was hungry having skipped lunch at work, and nobody had actually acknowledged the fact we had been kept waiting with any form of explanation or apology. Anyway, no point in worrying, at least we were at the table! And the young man who had shown us through had got everything right Ÿ?? both our chairs were pulled out, and we were both referred to as Ÿ??MadameŸ?. Things weren’t all bad! Our starters arrived, and I was soon tucking into Pan Fried King Scallops Cauliflower Pur€÷e, crisp Bury Black Pudding & Apple Salad, whilst at the other side of the table Sue had a dish of her favorite French Onion Soup Served with Gruyere Croutons. No complaints food wise so far, both plates were sent back to the kitchen scraped clean. For main course, Sue had chosen Sirloin Steak Served with Rocket Salad, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Peppercorn Sauce and hand cut chips. I, on the other hand, had gone for the Tandoori Monkfish Roast Tail of Tandoori Spiced Monkfish with Bombay Potatoes, Coconut Foam & Red Lentil Dahl. Unfortunately, there was not the option of ordering side dishes, so we both felt a little Ÿ??underfedŸ? with what we received. Quality wise Ÿ?? great. Quantity wise Ÿ?? a little less than required. During the course of our meal, Sue did ask for a jug of water. In fact, Sue asked for a jug of water on three occasions. Not because she was very very thirsty, but because the first two requests did not have the desired effect. You know what they say Ÿ?? third time lucky! The Waitress who was now serving us, was very pleasant and friendly, just not very efficient. It was a special night, and we were determined not to spoil it, but I have to admit, by pudding time, Mitton Hall had lost its shine. I even wondered if it would affect our judgment in the pudding department, but thankfully, we were both able to rise above the situation and study the pudding menu with clear, focused minds. Sue demanded that the Chef prepare her Champagne & Strawberry Jelly Served with Brandy Snaps, Macaroons, Lemon Curd & Clotted Cream Ice Cream, whilst I made do with the Sticky Toffee Pudding Toffee Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream. As with the other two courses, you certainly couldn’t knock the quality. They were both exquisite. Sue was also delighted when our Waitress returned to the table with two glasses of bubbly and a slate containing a heap of strawberries and raspberries drizzled in white chocolate, with the words Ÿ??Happy BirthdayŸ? also spelt out in white chocolate. A very thoughtful touch. It sort of made up for things. Almost. By now we had got to the coffee part of the meal. I don’t often bother with coffee Ÿ?? it has the unpleasant effect of giving me road rage and all sorts of other horrible things, so I tend to give it a miss. Sue, however, did fancy a coffee, so we ordered coffee for one, and retired into the main entrance area where we could watch what was going on, and nurse the big open fire for a while. The Restaurant hadn’t been particularly busy Ÿ?? we guessed about 8 or 10 other people when we looked back, but it was obvious from the noise coming out from beyond the bar, and the amount of wobbly people wandering to and fro from the toilets that the wedding party was well attended and in full swing. It was also obvious that Mitton Hall hasn’t quite enough quality staff to be able to function ordinarily throughout when hosting a big party. The meal had been good. But only good. Not outstanding, and the service had been less than good. It continued through to the point of us wanting to leave. The reception desk remained unmanned, and eventually I had to go into the bar and ask if someone would take some money from us. I got passed from one person to another until eventually a new face appeared with a piece of paper and a card machine. It wasn’t particularly expensive – ô?76-65, so even though it hadn’t been great, I was still going to leave a tip. I used the word Ÿ??wasŸ?, because the inevitable happened. The new face who was now driving the card machine asked me Ÿ??was everything all right Sir?Ÿ? I looked around over my shoulder Ÿ?? looking for the man who was stood behind me, and then looked back at him. He knew. I didn’t bother answering, just typed the amount in, pressed the OK button, and handed it him back. He smiled apologetically, and then dropped the card machine on the floor causing it to become several pieces. My turn to smile. When he eventually got it back together, he handed me my receipt and wished us good night. We retreated out into the night and wandered across the gravel drive, both agreeing that whilst it hadn’t been a disaster, it had tried its best! The three all important questions now need answering: Is Mitton Hall TV friendly? In its defence, I have to say Ÿ??YesŸ?. The bulk of the staff got it right, and the customers we came across didn’t even seem to notice. None of the wedding guests seemed to bother, and I certainly didn’t feel out of place. Value for money? How do I answer this one? If you don’t thoroughly enjoy something, can you claim to have had value for money? I didn’t feel that I had been ripped off, or anywhere near that Ÿ?? merely that I could have had a better night. The food was good, and the surroundings are without doubt magnificent. I therefore conclude that I just about had value for money. Would I go again? Sue and I discussed this bit as we left the car park. We both agreed that we wouldn’t refuse to go if asked, or go hungry rather than go there, but we certainly won’t be rushing back.