One-time righthand man of Simon Rogan, Mark Birchall, sets out to open his own restaurant-with-rooms after nine years at L’Enclume in Cartmel. The former exec chef of Rogan’s celebrated former smithy plans to reopen Moor Hall – a Grade II-listed gentry house in Aughton, Lancashire – in early autumn 2016, after complete redevelopment.
The mid-16th Century building will be restored in partnership with business partners Andy and Tracey Bell, and interior designer Martin Nealon. As well as a 50-cover restaurant, the venue will vaunt a 12-seater private dining room and seven bedrooms (two in the gatehouse and five in the main house). Plans are also afoot to convert the lodge, barn and stables, as well as the gardens, orchard and lake. In mid-2017, Birchall hopes to turn a large former barn into a second, more informal dining space that will also feature a small dairy, charcuterie and curing room, and a meat ageing room.
Sounds like quite an undertaking for Birchall’s first solo venture! But the young chef does have 15 years experience under his belt – nine of those spent at L’Enclume (a mainstay of the Sunday Time Top 100 UK Restaurants which is powered by Harden’s). He has also worked at Northcote with Nigel Haworth, The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, and won the Roux Scholarship in 2011.