Review: Small but perfectly formed restaurant and bar is one of Burnley's hidden gems

The invitation to 'drink, dine and dance' from Burnley's Illuminati restaurant and bar is hard to resist.

By Sue Plunkett
Friday, 1st April 2022, 2:49 pm
Updated Monday, 11th April 2022, 3:21 pm

Situated on the corner of Hammerton Street in the heart of the town centre the venue has a real city vibe.

The decor is ultra modern with a subdued, relaxed feel and staff are welcoming and friendly the moment you walk through the door, always a plus at any restaurant. And they remained attentive and friendly throughout the evening, offering advice and suggestions for our menu choices.

Illuminati means 'people claiming to possess special enlightenment or knowledge of something' and in this instance I believe it refers to the food as it is not only beautifully presented but tastes delicious. And the word ‘home made’ is the finishing touch.

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James Gibb, owner of Illuminati bar and restaurant in Burnley town centre

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With a starter menu offering three dishes for £13, my guest and I opted to go for six different dishes. My favourite was the brie and chilli jam parcels that melt in the mouth. The combination of the delicate filo pastry with the brie and sweet tang of the chilli jam was mouth watering.

We accompanied the parcels with garlic cheese bombs, salt and pepper mushrooms, 'bang bang' prawns, cheeseburger tacos and fully loaded nachos. The combination of flavours and textures was amazing, with so much to choose from on the table.

Each dish was like a little masterpiece, we almost felt guilty demolishing them! The only thing left was some of the nachos, as there was enough to feed at least four people. The home-made tortilla chips are covered with salsa, cheese jalalpenos, guacamole and sour cream.

Three happy diners at Illuminati in Burnley

Absolutely zinging with the flavour.

A section of the menu is devoted to wings, at just 40p a serving, including ‘secret society’ wings’ with a Chinese inspired salt and pepper seasoning, ‘wild west’ wings drenched in home-made barbecue sauce and ‘new world order’ wings with home-made buffalo style sauce with a little extra kick.

Heading the ‘mains’ menu is the Illuminati meatball sub bathed in home-made tomato sauce topped with mozzarella, rocket, basil and mayo on a toasted roll served with hand cut chips. The cult chicken burger is Cajun fried chicken breast with sweet chilli mayo, lettuce, red onion and tomato on a seeded bun is also very tempting along with pork belly crack noodles, Cuban burrito and sweet and sour tofu.

Of course we couldn't resist the dessert menu, opting for the cornflake tart and custard and apple cheesecake tacos crumble and cinnamon.

The brie and chilli jam parcels served up at Illuminati

I have to say these were two of the nicest desserts I have ever tasted. The cornflake tart rested on a bed of pastry that was so light and delicious and the apple cheesecake tacos were wonderfully sweet.

Chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, raspberry and chocolate tacos with crushed chocolate swirls and chocolate fudge pieces with chocolate sauce were the other choices.

Boasting a fabulous cocktail menu, Illuminati owner James Gibb has created a real gem of a venue, the sort of place that will put Burnley on the map.

The garlic cheese bombs with home-made tomato sauce
Friends toast a night at Illuminati (left to right) Madge Nawaz, John Deehan, Sue Plunkett, Nikki Hunt and Kev Furber
The cornflake tart and custard