Restaurant review: GemNi Rawtenstall fine dining in an initmate setting

A hot, sultry evening is not something you’d expect to encounter too often in East Lancashire, nor perhaps exquisite fine dining, but those were two experiences that did happen upon me when I chose to dine at Rawtenstall’s GemNi restaurant.

The latest addition to Rawtenstall’s burgeoning dining and drinking scene, GemNi is the creation of chef patron Michael Pilkington and wife Gemma who opened their exciting modern English restaurant last year.

Rossendale-born Michael, who previously worked for 18 years at celebrity chef Andrew Nutter’s restaurant, with nine years as head chef, was given the opportunity last year to go out on his own.

Dining with my partner Andrea, we were welcomed by a very friendly head waitress who showed us to our table on the ground level of this intimate eaterie, which has one small floor above.

GemNi restaurant in Back Lane, Rawtenstall

Hot and sultry as it was on this glorious summer’s evening, and at a relatively early time of 6pm we were the only patrons and so were treated to an even more personal service than one might expect on a busy night.

Fear not, our quiet experience was definitely not down to the quality of food – as will be explained later – and several groups did arrive as we were leaving.

Perched in a corner off Rawtenstall’s trendy main thoroughfare Bank Street – home to a number of independent bars and cafes, GemNi sits in a perfect location for special occasions.

Indeed, the restaurant holds ‘date nights’ with special menus, as well as other themed nights including wine nights.

Slow braised lamb shoulder, truffle mash potato, salted carrot and a port wine reduction

We decided to choose from Michael’s à la carte menu, which changes once a month. There were also options to dine from a five or seven course tasting menu.

Read More

Read More
Five engagement rings that are trending now

Whilst perusing our choices, we were treated to a complimentary ‘nibble’ of black pudding wontons with brown sauce – a reassuringly northern dish with a touch of eastern flair.

Moving on, Andrea plumped for breaded king prawns with a garlic mayonnaise, and plump they were as well as juicy and delicious. I opted for a seafood starter, too, hand caught scallops, burnt tomato salsa, cauliflower puree and pumpkin seeds, which was as amazing as it sounds.

Pan seared fillet of seabass, spinach and ricotta tortellini with a smoked garlic and parmesan cream

A further complimentary nibble came next with the freshest and creamiest tasting pea and mint soup with goat’s cheese cream, charmingly served in a tiny tea cup with bread.

It was then on to the big stuff. Defying the warm temperatures, I opted for a slow braised lamb shoulder, truffle mash potato, salted carrot and port wine reduction. The port ‘gravy’ was a lovely accompaniment to the tender lamb which fell onto the plate, my only criticism being that the carrot was a little too salty for my palate.

Andrea chose the pan seared fillet of seabass, with spinach and ricotta tortellini with a smoked garlic and parmesan cream. She loved her choice, too, but approaching bursting point, couldn’t finish the pasta element.

Indeed, such was our stuffed state, we decided to share a dessert – a strawberry panna cotta. The panna cotta was rich and creamy, perhaps a little too much as I would have preferred it to be a touch lighter, but this was a minor quibble.

In all, GemNi is a wonderful dining destination that should be next on your list for a culinary ‘treat’.