(Alderley Edge, Cheshire) Alderley Restaurant

The hotel restaurant is in a conservatory tacked on to the side of the building. Which is fine in summer but it’s damn cold in winter and we’ve vowed never to go again at that time of year. Which is why it’s been a while since we were last here.

There was a canape with drinks in the bar. A chicken and chorizo doughnut , which managed to be devoid of flavour. But that was the only real glitch of the evening out of the way early on. Once in the restaurant, there was good bread and that was a good thing as it took a while for any other food to arrive. We’d scoffed the bread and more was offered (and declined). The amuse was a chilled pea soup, with a buttermilk sorbet and Parmesan crumb – light and fresh, if not overly pea-tasting.

Scallops were just a tad overcooked for perfection. They came with slivers of apple and bacon which worked well and sat a bed of cabbage which didn’t work too well. The other plate was crab omelette – perfectly made – with additions of a couple of sauces – a red pepper one and, better, one zinging from basil.

Main courses were “proper plates of food”. No foams or other gimmicks, just good ingredients cooked well. Pork came as a couple of slices of just cooked through loin, a slab of belly, crackling and a little black pudding. Sage enhanced potato croquettes and there’s an array of veg – baby carrot, onion, tenderstem broccoli and spinach. A light gravy brings it all together. Cannon of Herdwick lamb was perfectly cooked to pink. There’s crushed Jersey Royals, cherry tomatoes and the baby carrot. A spot-on combination of ingredients.

The obligatory pre-dessert was excellent. A passionfruit coulis surrounded a vodka granita. Really nice. On to desserts proper – and both have flavours which you instinctively know will work. There’s a chocolate mousse encased in chocolate and surrounded by raspberries and a raspberry sauce. On the other plate, a gingerbread base was topped with a rhubarb mousse, itself topped with little cubes of rhubarb.

None of this comes cheap but you have to bear in mind the restaurant is not only in the Golden Triangle but there’s a ready stream of hotel guests on expense accounts. So, you might have something of a sharp intake of breath when the bill comes. You won’t be moaning about service though. Our server was a delightful young woman, entirely professional but friendly and chatty given the slightest encouragement.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold