[Nantwich, Cheshire] Rookery Hall

Rookery Hall is possibly best known as the place where Posh Spice and David Beckham announced their engagement in 2008. Many years before that, we’d been for lunch (although I had no recollection of it) but this was the first time for dinner. The dining room is lovely. Lots of dark wood panelling entirely in keeping with a Georgian building. Great views of the countryside through floor to ceiling windows – with an almost equally large mirror at the other end, giving it an impression that it is even more spacious than it actually is. We were staying overnight at the hotel and could have taken advantage of its dinner bed & breakfast deal but that would have meant taking the tasting menu, which didn’t suit us. So, we’d booked B & B and reserved the restaurant separately so we could eat the “a la carte”.

It was going to be a very mixed meal. As you might expect, there was an amuse bouche in the form of a mushroom velouté – a pleasant enough consistency but underflavoured and underseasoned. I got “seconds” as my partner had a couple of spoonfuls and didn’t fancy finishing it. Yes, I’m the greedy one of the pair. Chicken terrine was also underwhelming as a starter. Basically, cooked chicken shredded and pressed back together again. It came with an egg yolk puree and a couple of bits of charred sweetcorn which did their best to try and lift it. Much better was a fillet of grilled plaice. That came with a lovely langoustine tail. And some Jerusalem artichoke served, perhaps a bit oddly, cold as a salad item with watercress. Really giving it a zing were some thin slices of a pickled vegetable. Perhaps more artichoke?

Then it was on to main courses. It took a while for them to arrive. In fact, it had taken a while for everything. By now, getting on for 75 minutes had passed since we sat down. The problem, whatever it was, was clearly in the kitchen, rather than with the serving staff. But it was the sort of slow, that sucks the enjoyment out of a meal.

Unlike the earlier dishes, a ribeye steak was well seasoned and accurately cooked as requested. It came with good chips, some chunks of parsnip and a nasturtium pesto, acting as a sauce. On the other plate, there was an excellent bit of cookery with some pork loin – well flavoured and nicely cooked to medium. It came with some long cooked belly pork, disappointingly with flabby skin that couldn’t be eaten. There’s also a baton of sarladaise potato which I don’t recall eating before and which was delicious. Similar to dauphinoise potato but even nicer. Which is more than could be said for the cubes of swede which were more raw than “al dente” and, again, couldn’t be eaten.

So, the savoury courses had been OK, but we decided that we didn’t want another long wait for dessert that we just knew would not be worth the calories, so just got the bill. Which brings me to my final moan. They add a 10% service charge, which is absolutely fine. But the bill then also has an open tip line. It is, to our minds, an entirely disreputable ruse to sucker unwary customers into effectively double tipping. I thought this practice had died out years back. Shame on them.


Mrs H reminds me of this exchange as we sat down.

Restaurant manager comes over. She asks if we need more time with the menu. Mrs H replies “No thanks, We had plenty of time to read it inn the bar”. Manager replies (and I kid you not) “Awww. Bless”

I was unsure if I was going to have to restrain Mrs H from going for her throat. She simply would not have addressed a younger woman in that patronising way.


By the by, after breakfast, we drove into Nantwich. It’s a lovely small town with the county’s second best collection of really old buildings (after Chester).

We had a wander about and came across a great little cheese shop. I suppose it should be a surprise to find one there. The town has been the host to the International Cheese Awards (and its predeccesors) since 1897. We bought some Nantwich Blue (actually made in Derbyshire, from milk from that county and Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire - so dunno why Nantwich), Sparkenhoe Red Leicester (the finest Leicester you’ll come across) and Gorwydd Caerphilly. Then popped over the road to the town bookshop (building dates to the late 1500s), which also has a cafe (good coffee) - really a cafe that also sells books, if you see what I mean.

FWIW, the “wich” in the town’s name derives from an Old English meaning for a place where salt is produced. There’s neighbouring towns of Middlewich and Northwich. The latter has a salt museum on the site of an old salt mining and refining site


Oh, I see I forgot to mention the bread.

Now I’m sure it would have been a lovely bread to go with the soup and starters. It certainly sounded lovely - “home baked artisan rye sourdough, cultured butter”. But, at seven quid, they are surely taking the piss. Nearly as much as my chicken terrine.


Mrs. H. sounds like a woman after my own heart. Did she come up with any appropriate responses?!

Only “The Look”.

She reminds me that she was still getting over the barman calling her “my lovely”. It will have been intended as a pleasantry - much in the same way that he addressed me as “young man” (I am old enough to have been his grandfather). It’s the casualness that we might have expected here in the north in, say, the local fish & chips shop but not in an aspirational restaurant.

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The dining room looks really nice, as does the hotel. But the cheery-chattiness sure sounds annoying, as well as the slow-paced and uneven quality of the meal.


I hate it when people call me “young lady” which I am obviously not. Depending on the circumstances, I usually say something (nicely).

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Wow, I’d love to visit it (and Chester, too).

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Instant fail. You expect your bread to be included, young man ? Aww bless :slight_smile:

Yeah but. Seven fecking quid?

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A total p*ss take, as you said

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