altrincham · cheshire · Dining · Food and Drink · hale · Preview/Review · Restaurants · Uncategorized

The Griffin brings summer to the table – Restaurant Review

Cheese. I love cheese.

I love it any which way (not cottage cheese. I don’t enjoy cottage cheese).

There is no finer state, however, than when its unashamedly melted. No messing about.

It’s no coincidence that I’ve been bought cheese books, cheese hampers, cheese vouchers, cheese…as leaving gifts/secret santas during my career.

Laura’s leaving again. What shall we do? Cheese.

Laura:

yes.

I leave jobs to acquire cheese and related products (note to potential future employers  – I don’t).

Melted, gooey, stringy (all find food adjectives, I’m sure you’ll agreed)…

The good people living through the 70s had it right. The fondue.

Let’s find a legitimate way for people to unashamedly dip things in melted cheese.

And so when the lovely people at Chef and Brewer’s The Griffin, in Bowdon, invited me to try their new Spring/Summer menu, I leapt at the chance. And then I leapt again when I saw what was new on the starters section. I leap a lot (I mean not actually, that’s quite tiring).

Ladies and Gentlemen of Bowdon, Hale, Altrincham and surrounding areas? Let me present to you,

Cheddar & Yorkshire Ale Fondue.

This beautiful cast iron pan of bubbling cheddar loveliness is accompanied by a fine selection of spring vegetables for dipping, namely asparagus, carrot and cucumber crudités, along with beetroot pickle, caramelised red onion chutney and white and malted toasted bloomer.

Begrudgingly I shared with my plus 1, but there was plenty to go around – even given the ferocious way I attacked the board, before remembering I was in public.

The dish is a game of two halves – the crudités allowing you to eat a dish that isn’t all-consuming and feels lovely and healthy, but with a fine, delicious centrepiece of tangy wonderment and excitement – that of the cheddar and Yorkshire ale fondue.

We said a sad but fond farewell to our very empty board and cast iron pan, ready to try two of the new dishes on the mains section.

Chef’s Summer Garden Bowl

Before I even picked up my fork, this aesthetically pleasing dish made my eyes light up, a cacophony of spring and summer flavours and colours.

This warm dish brings together new potatoes, asparagus, garden peas, baby gem, tenderstem broccoli and spring onion, all dressed with lemon oil.

Not only that, but there are a range of toppings to choose from including courgette & harissa flavoured rice skewers, rump steak, salmon, chicken, sea bass and last but not least, halloumi which I plumped for.

I’m not the best with lemon flavours but thankfully had pushed my silliness aside upon when choosing my main, as the Garden Bowl had successfully seduced me in its description. And it truly did deliver.

The lemon oil was subtle and perfectly complimented the range of flavours and textures in the bowl. A lovely, healthy dish which left me happy and with no need for dessert (spoiler, I had dessert anyway)…

Rump Steak with a Macaroni Cheese Topper

Steak is not new!

…I hear you cry.

No it is not. But certainly new to the menu is the concept of the steak topper. That’s actually new to me too, so double bubble excitement all round.

Frequent flyers of The Griffin will already have a place in their heart for their wondrous steak options.

Served with grilled tomato, sautéed mushrooms, lamb’s lettuce and onion rings, salad and, on this occasion, the potato of choice being triple cooked chips, the rump steak was cooked perfectly as per my plus 1’s request (medium rare), the accompaniments tasty and the chips triple-cooked to perfection (confession time, I also had a portion with my Garden Bowl – I couldn’t not).

But what about this talk of toppers?

…I still hear you say.

I am coming to it.

And here we go.

New to the menu are a range of steak toppers, namely:

  • mac ‘n’ cheese
  • stilton & peppercorn sautéed mushrooms
  • surf ‘n’ turf; and…
  • our old friend ‘Cheddar & Yorkshire ale fondue’, as previously seen as a starter!

My plus 1 went straight for the mac ‘n’ cheese which thrilled me greatly, being my guilty pleasure.

And the topper did not come as a mere hint or nod to the foodstuff, it was a dish in itself, arriving on the side for you to top your steak at your pleasure.

Creamy, comforting and downright wonderful, the steak topper does indeed deserve its place as a new dish on the menu.

Desperately fighting off feelings of fulfilment, there was still one course to go – pudding. And to retain some dignity, two spoons but only one dish was ordered:

Summer fruit sundae

To use a summer’s day analogy, if the first two courses were a fun day enjoying a bbq and beer garden with friends, the pudding was the happy, slow paced amble home, through a country lane, the scent of flowers flirting with your senses, cheeks flushed from the sun (let’s just pretend it’s not the UK), with glow brought from the sun setting on a happy day.

I’m basically saying it was the perfect, sweet ending.

Fresh pineapple and raspberries, mango sorbet, clotted cream ice cream, peach and pear pieces, raspberry coulis and toasted almonds.

I will let my photograph (and long, complicated analogy) tell the story.

And so as we approach what will hopefully be a long and happy summer, The Griffin promises to be the perfect host, not only in its new menu but with, I’m told, the setting – the outside bar in the extensive beer garden in operation, and its own festival, hoping to raise lots of funds and awareness for MacMillan Cancer Support, along with Altrincham Matters:

(Poster credit: Altrincham Design)

All the details can be found here

Bon appetite!

altrincham · Events · lifestyle · manchester · The Arts · Uncategorized · wellbeing

Life Drawing and Validation – Altrincham’s Open Studios

I think it may be something to do with approaching a milestone age but I have recently been living at an accelerated speed.

Not particularly hedonistic but in terms of adding to my repertoire of life experiences, things have stepped up a gear.

It’s as though I’m prepping for an ‘end of year’ review in my ‘real’ job (when not prattling on online), except this is an ‘end of decade’ review. Predictably I’m not divulging which particular decade I’m due to leave sometime this year.

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In a blind panic, I’m adding to the (imagined) section, ‘what in actual hell have you done with your life recently apart from developing an addiction to cheese, sparkling wine and watching ’90 Day Fiancé’ incessantly on the wonderful channel that is TLC’.

In order to validate my life (or position at the company who employs me, to further the analogy), I’ve taken on a number of new projects and interests. One of which is Life Drawing.

I’ve always had a keen interest in art, mainly fuelled by me achieving my highest module mark in The History and Theory of Art, during my three year not art degree. It was on that day that I vowed to bang on about this forever more.

I verge from an appreciation of the traditional, to the Warhols, to the sublime (I once found myself on my hands and knees, crawling through an installation (tunnel) of ‘something’ at the Tate Modern, only to find myself out the other end, having seen nothing but darkness.

Part of me added my own deep theory as to what the artist had in mind.

Part of me wondered if my confusion upon exiting was being filmed; my bewildered expression forming part of a bigger installation to be projected onto the Houses of Parliament at a later date, a’la Gail Porter, entitled ‘The gullible’.

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Back to the point, and the purpose of this blog post; that is, giving thanks and a shout out to the wonderful Open Studios in Altrincham, who both locals and not so locals, will know from the wonderful classes they put on, and the marvellous ‘Hidden Altrincham’ festival, showcasing art around the town.

As described on their website, Open Studios is where one goes

to be creative

even if you consider yourself not.

That non-consideration, will very quickly be discouraged through encouragement, by the lovely Jo Cushing who has not only shown me how to put up an easel without trapping everyone of my fingers (although I’m still unable to put it away without smashing it into the ceiling), but the rudimentaries in applying charcoal to paper, and drawing the wonderfully poised and, well, remarkably ‘still’ life models before me.

I have been to two classes so far and any nerves about picking up a piece of charcoal since I was in high school were quickly calmed by not only Tutor Jo, but by the other lovely artists (when I say ‘other’ I mean in addition to Jo, not myself) who have attended the class on a Wednesday at 7pm.

my first stab – apologies to the model

It is at this point I add my reason for this particularly timed post. Walk-ins are welcome to each and every class, and no sign-ups are required. This is particularly beneficial to people like me who may appear flaky but unable to go more than once every month of so. Such as being unable go again for a further two weeks…And so this blog post also forms part of a message to Jo…

I haven’t been for a few weeks, not because I’m sulking that I couldn’t draw that foot properly last time – I’m still keen to learn and have even done sketching homework (not life models, you understand).

Anyone and everyone is welcome, including beginners, and for only £13, receive two hours of tutorage. You even get to keep your drawings! And the smudges all over your face from incessantly touching your face with your charcoal fingers (I’m a face toucher, evidently).

And so in the absence of attending tonight (not that I’m suggesting I’ll be missed), I wanted to encourage others to, to keep my place warm so to speak.

With even a tea or coffee thrown in (I take my own diet coke, admittedly – I’m a strange non-brew drinker), add to your life-CV and list of anecdotes, by popping along to give it a go. And I’ll see you there (in a couple of weeks).

Life Drawing classes are every Wednesday 7pm-9pm, as well as Tuesdays 11am-1pm (when I’m unable to attend, as I’m trying to keep myself in employment during the week).

For details of these classes, all others and the Studio itself, please click through to the website here.