[Stockport] Where the Light Gets In (2023)

We’ve visited the restaurant once a year since it opened. And maybe that’s as much as it takes to be a “regular” in this sort of place. It’s food that’s always interesting and inventive but once a year is probably enough. These days, chef and owner Sam Buckley is more “hands-off” than he used to be, not being in the restaurant all the time and leaving things much more to his team. And the team is doing things very well. Front of house is welcoming, engaging and on the ball. And the chefs in the very open kitchen, have really got a good handle on things. Of the various tasting menus we’ve eaten here, this one probably worked the best of all them – less of the “earnest and worthy”, more of the “just damn good food”. In the past I’ve written in some detail about what we’ve eaten but this time I decided to leave my notebook at home so will just transcribe the menu, with maybe a memory or two.

Pickle plate

Asparagus and hollandaise

Lobster crumpet

Yellowhammer bread, butter, mushroom

Millet pudding, hen’s yolk, crispy pork

BBQ lobster, head sauce

Gem lettuce, split pea, toasted yeast

The whole of Katie’s pig

Burnt apple sorbet, artichoke vodka

Sheep’s milk parfait, rhubarb

Petit four

As well as the three chefs in the kitchen, there was a fourth outside using a charcoal BBQ to grill things like the asparagus, lobster and Little Gem. It brought a smokiness to those three dishes that really enhanced the flavour. And, by way of explanation of the “Whole of Katie’s Pig”, pork has been the final savoury course every time we’ve been. They buy a whole rare breed Saddleback direct from the farm and, over time, use all of it in different ways. This evening, there was a slice of loin, a Chinese style dumpling of long cooked piggy and some just wilted greens. It was fab. But there were two absolute standout dishes. The first was the lobster crumpet – just about a single mouthful if you opened wide. A small, nicely chewy crumpet topped with lobster butter, shredded lobster and Little Gem lettuce. The first dessert was an outstanding example of the skill of the young pastry chef. She’d caramelised the apples so they were rich and sweet, but not overly sweet, and turned them into a sorbet. But basis for the sauce predated her arrival here. When the restaurant first opened, they decided to steep leaves of globe artichoke in vodka. Yes, a wacky idea which is why it may have sat on the shelf for six years. Now, I don’t know what she’d then done to it for it to become a sauce but it was absolutely inspired. Delicious.

There will be those who might baulk at the cost and the fact that you have to pay up front at the time of booking, with no refund if you cancel. And they would have a point. But it would mean they miss out on a really nice evening.