[Marton, Cheshire] La Popote

I’ve driven past this place many times over the years, without even registering its name, let alone giving it a second thought for a meal. Then, a few weeks back, there was slow moving traffic as I went past and, this time, did register the name. I’d seen it somewhere before – in the generally reliable Good Food Guide. OK, we better come back for lunch some time, then.

There’s a very short lunch menu that runs alongside the somewhat longer carte. Both have a number of well known French dishes but there’s more dishes of a broader North European heritage. They don’t look out of place in Cheshire nor would they look out of place in the chef’s homeland of the Netherlands. We both decided to order from the lunch menu.

Soup of the day was French onion and was a decent version of the classic, rich and warming on what was still a chilly day for the time of year. A game terrine was a “special”, The chef came round the tables later and explained that he buys in the game during the autumn season, makes lots of terrines and freeze them. This one was packed full of flavour – venison, wild mallard and pheasant, in big chunks. Alongside, a little melba toast and a nicely fruity pear and plum chutney. Absolutely bang on.

For mains, there was boeuf bourguignon. Tasty long cooked beef, a little mushroom, cocktail onions and a well flavoured stock. There’s new potatoes and peas, both of which worked well. The other plate was described as a “croquette de poisson” – that’s a big fishcake to you and me. It’s a substantial offering of fish and prawns bound with mashed potato, flavoured with dill – breadcrumbed and fried. That came with pommes frites, salad, tartare sauce and, a bit oddly, sweet chilli sauce. But it was another good plate.

Only one of us wanted dessert and that was another “special”. A very seasonal rhubarb trifle. There’s grenadine jelly in the bottom of the glass, then a set custard and cream. It’s topped with crushed honeycomb and poached rhubarb which, for perfection, would have been a bit sharper – but that’s a minor quibble.

It’s a nice room with “proper” tablecloths and napkins and service is efficient. The quality of the food punches above the weight of the pricing and I’m sure we’ll be back for dinner in due course.