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.
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