[Alderley Edge, Cheshire] The Alderley Restaurant

This was the fourth time we’d eaten at the Alderley and it’s fair to say that, had this been our first time, we would probably conclude that we might not come back. The experience simply wasn’t as good as previous visits. Food not as good. Service overly informal for a place that describes itself as “one of the finest restaurants for dining in Cheshire”. And a room utterly devoid of atmosphere, as only one other table was occupied. The restaurant holds three AA rosettes and a Good Food Guide cooking score of 3 – and, on the basis of this experience, deserves neither of these fairly high accolades.

It’s a short menu with five choices at each course, made shorter by two of the advertised starters being “off”, as the fish supplier hadn’t turned up. One starter managed to be bang on for seasonality with a “textures of Wye Valley asparagus”. There’s green and white asparagus in chunks and shavings, served cold, a hot asparagus mousse and a blob or two of crème fraiche. There was an east asian spin to the other dish – thin slices duck breast marinated in soy and given a brief cooking (although served at room temperature), wilted but still crisp Chinese cabbage and an overly astringent soy dressing which managed to kill off much of the flavour.

The lamb main course was pretty much a Sunday roast. There’s pink lamb, roast spuds (although they call them confit), tenderstem broccoli and spinach. The sort of plate that, on a really good day, you could manage at home. Monkfish seemed to have mislaid the advertised harissa but was otherwise fine. Also on the plate, a couple of well cooked scallops. The contribution to the five a day came in a “textures of cauliflower” – actually just florets and wafer thin slices. Both plates were just very underwhelming.

There was a lovely pre-dessert – a lime flavoured granite topped with a creamy foam. Desserts were the best course we ate. One a “broken lemon tart” – broken bits of caramelised pastry, lemon curd and a liquorice ice cream. The other was cubes of rhubarb which were still quite crunchy and not very flavoursome, a crisp meringue and a rather good pistachio ice cream.