[Alderley Edge, Cheshire] Oakwood

The Oakwood is part of a small chain of gastropubs run by the White Brasserie Group. Somewhere along the line, there’s a connection with 2* chef, Raymond Blanc. Now exactly what that connection might be isn’t clear, as there’s absolutely no mention of him on the Group’s website. And I’m not getting confused with Blanc’s other brasserie chain. That’s Brasserie Blanc, not White Brasserie – geddit? But the Brasserie Blanc website refers to White Brasseries as sister restaurants. Confused?

Thankfully, there’s nothing confusing about the Oakwood. A “proper” gastropub to my mind – one where not every table is set for eating and is clearly there to welcome folk in just for booze if that’s their fancy. Nothing confusing about the menu, either. There’s a mix of more overtly French inspired dishes, alongside wider “modern European” dishes, which even manages to include a “pie of the week” (gammon and leek, when we visited)

So, there were crudites to start – or a “miscellany of salads” as the menu prefers it. The likes of celeriac remoulade, grated carrot and pickled mixed vegetables. Quite good this plate, although everything was a little too fridge cold. The other starter was the day’s special and was firmly from this side of the Channel - potted smoked salmon and good sourdough bread.

Onglet steak was cooked accurately at medium rare and was as flavoursome as you like. Side dishes for steaks are extras – in this case, some nicely crisp chips. Proper chips, mind you, not French fries. There’s only one veggie choice on the menu but it was a well made and very flavoursome one – chickpea and coriander cakes, sitting on more chickpeas. There’s a cheffy slick of aubergine puree, spiked with cumin (?) and another of tomato sauce, both of which complement the cakes. There was an order for a green salad – you’re asked what dressing you’d like but a request for vinaigrette threw them. A restaurant which leans towards French food and doesn’t even know what a vinaigrette is? Zut alors!

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Lunch.

One of us ordered from the very reasonably priced set menu. Ham hock terrine to start. It was OK but sort of crossed a line between having enough fat to keep it moist and being overly fatty. There was also apple in there which was fine in itself but when combined with the apple dice on the plate and the apple puree, it was overly appley. Steak frites to follow – minute steak, side salad, chips – all good.

From the main menu came a starter of mussels in mouclade sauce. Tasty mussels, nice creamy saffron sauce. After that, a venison stew from the “specials board” – long cooked Bambi, good sauce, mushrooms, carrots and celery. Decent non-sloppy mashed potato as the carb.

I had dessert – Normandy apple tart. It wasn’t a wild success. Soggy pastry, an almond cream filling topped with apple that didn’t really taste of anything. Still edible though – although with minimal enjoyment. Which is what I told the waiter when he asked how it was. He was good enough to comp our coffee by way of apology.

Tasty and nice - apart from the dodgy one that gave me a virulent dose of the pukes & shits a few hours after.

That’s twice in recent months (the other after a meal in Folkestone). Maybe I’m going to have to stop eating them.

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

― Jonathan Gold