altrincham · cheshire · Events · hale · Restaurants

Event: Maggie’s Fundraiser at Pizza Express, Hale – 19.11.19

Lovely people of Hale!
And, of course, beyond…
Sarah Kelly aka the fabulous Nelly K soft furnishings based in Altrincham, is hosting a great night of live music, fun and fundraising for Manchester charity Maggie’s , centres set up to provide free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends.

Sarah has set herself the fantastic challenge of raising £6500 for Maggie’s, part of which she will be embarking on a staggering 70km trek across snow and ice in March 2020.
Sounds impressive? Is there a way I can help but in the more tropical climes of Hale Village in perhaps a pizza-ey type setting?
Why yes!

This Tuesday 19 November, Sarah is hosting a great night of live music, fun and fundraising at the newly refurbished Pizza Express, Hale
For just £11.37 (inc tax etcthat’s why the curious figure), you can enjoy all this (food included) including the chance to win some fabulous raffle prizes (just £2 a ticket) donated by local businesses and celebrities including (deep breath):

Two Swizzels Matlow hampers
Meal for two at Gusto Restaurant & Bar Didsbury
Champagne from Tesco Extra
Wine from Waitrose & Partners
Prosecco from Sainsbury’s
Signed copy of DJ Dave Haslam’s book
Signed copy of BBC star Mark Radcliffe’s book
Signed copy of broadcaster Stuart Maconie’s book
Ticket for Everyman Cinema Altrincham
Vinyl box set from LIAMGALLAGHERnews
Signed LP and Crooked Calypso hat and mug from Paul Heaton
Swarovski necklace from Randalls Alty
Signed boxing glove from Callum Smith
£30 gift voucher from Hill & Hill The Jewellers
£20 gift voucher for Jake Shoes
Manchester poster from Statement Artworks
Signed autobiography from Ben Stokes
‘Manc’ cushion and bag from Nellie K
T-shirts from Everything’s Sweet Threads
Mini photo session with Nicola Pass Photography
Handbag from Violet Loves Vintage
Sculpture from Christine Cummings Ceramics
Keratin hair treatment from The Colour Shed
Glass creation from Cmglassdesigns
12 month subscription to Cheshire Life Magazine
Wine from Portland Wine Hale
Afternoon tea for two at The Garden
And more . . . .

£2 per ticket to dream and help out a wonderful cause!
The event starts at 7.30pm (well done me of the past for being deeply wise fortuitous enough to take this photo of the clock last Christmas at this exact time…)

So head over to Eventbrite to purchase your event ticket.
Want to support Sarah but can’t make the event? Head to Sarah’s Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sarah-kelly76
To read more about the wonderful work that Maggie‘s do, head to https://www.maggiescentres.org/about-maggies/
altrincham · cheshire · Dining · Food and Drink · hale · Restaurants · Uncategorized

Hale’s own WA14 named in Top 10 of Newcomers in the National Fish and Chip Awards!

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what a champion chippy we have right on our doorstep in Hale?

I mean I’m going to tell you again anyway…

WA14 – Friday Chippy Tea, the great British institution

But in exciting (and might I say exclusive) news, the National Fish and Chip Awards have realised it too!

WA14 Fish and Chips have just been announced as making it to the Top 10 shortlist in the Best Newcomer category!

Recognising the ten fish and chip shops in the UK who have made a huge impact in the industry in only their first year in business, it’s a veritable who’s who of fresh new friers!

To win a place in this shortlist, businesses must go above and beyond in their industry and I think we can all agree WA14 takes the humble chippy tea to a whole new level.

Awards organisers Seafish said

The U.K. is the home of traditional fish and chip takeaways so it’s fantastic to see new business owners challenging the norm by providing innovative business ideas and bringing in transferable skills from a diverse range of industry

WA14 Fish and Chips will now compete against the other nine businesses for the coveted title of the U.K.’s Best Newcomer as judges make the rounds as mystery diners.

So sit up straight as you never know who you’ll be sitting next to whilst waiting for your sausage to be battered!

The winner will be announced at the National Fish and Chip Awards ceremony, held in London in on 23 January 2020.

To read the full list and more about the Awards themselves, visit https://seafish.org/article/exceptional-new-businesses-rewarded-as-best-newcomer-shortlist-is-announced-national-fish-and-chip-awards

To go and try out what got WA14 Fish and Chips into the top 10, give them a visit on Ashley Road – all details at https://fshnchps.co.uk/

To see why I’m so thrilled but not surprised at this exciting news, read WA14 – Friday Chippy Tea, the great British institution

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

WA14 – Friday Chippy Tea, the great British institution

I grew up near the sea, on the Fylde Coast.

With Fleetwood a pebble’s skim away, you were (almost) close enough to hear the rustle of the fishing nets…

Needless to say we were not short of chip shops (for some reason I’ve never been able to call them ‘chippys’. Always chip shop. Like a formal Victorian).

This battered sausage is divine. From the chip shop, you say?

The nearest was a 5 min walk away and it would be on a Friday that those magical words would be uttered…

What would you like from the chip shop?

(ah it makes sense now – my mum says chip shop too).

My answer, by the way, would be

Everything. I’d like everything please. Except mushy peas. For me they’re the work of the devil, and I just don’t understand them.

When I moved to Manchester in 2000, I couldn’t understand where all the chip shops were at.

I mean there was quite often a tribute to the chip shop in that the takeaways offering kebabs etc might offer chips or even a jumbo sausage, but the traditional chip shop didn’t appear to exist.

There does appear to have been a shift in this regard over recent times. Even that great leader of our times, Manchester City Centre, has opened up a few chip shops in addition to stalwart Kingfisher…

I mean, no doubt there’s some irony involved, but still…

But it will always be the ‘burbs that don’t let us down. And so imagine my incredible (and I do mean incredible) excitement when a new chip shop opened a stone’s throw from home. I mean we even share the same postcode…

Residents of Hale, Bowdon (and definitely should be, if not actually) beyond will be no stranger to WA14 Fish & Chips

I mean it literally does what it says on the tin. It’s fish and chips, it’s in WA14. And on a Friday that’s where you’ll find a good proportion of its neighbours.

Now a grown up (I really am) it’s my job to stand in line on a Friday, listening to the frying of the fish, those dulcet tones of the chips being plunged into the hot oil, the chatter of the people in line – the communal excitement growing in anticipation of their pending supper, happy in the knowledge that the working week is over, and chippy tea is incoming.

But never have I stood in a chip shop line in such stylish and perfectly branded surroundings.

But fear not, Hale, Bowdon and beyond, fish, chips and, ok, mushy peas (if you have to) haven’t given way to a 16 course tasting menu with wine pairing. It’s all there. The pies are there, the gravy’s there, the jumbo sausages are there…

see there they are.

so it’s still the chip shop. Our lovely chip shop. But then some..

A range of fish choices, not only scampi but made with monkfish, and a pie menu like a gift from the gods.

Last night there was a distinct chill in the air in Hale (it’s ok – I don’t mean the parking rates have gone up again) and whilst Friday night chippy does not discriminate in terms of time of year, it is definitely best indulged in in colder climes.

And so anticipation at a peak as our food was seasoned (I don’t like vinegar – what an oddity I truly am reader)…

…it was time to leave with our boxes of delights.

Ouch

I was heard to exclaim as we headed off down the cobbled passageway that is Bath Street, our cardboard wares reassuringly hot to the touch…

Home in two minutes, front door shut to the world, no work the next day, the aromas of the chip shop filling our senses (and those of the cat – for the final time, just get off…)

…life is about these moments.

All this romanticism, nostalgia, talking of branding is all very well, but what was the actual food like, I hear my one reader cry (hi mum).

Bloody delicious.

You know that food term we all loathe and I would never lower myself to use…well here is some not food porn:

I opted for good old cod and chips. Served with a slice of lemon and pot of creamy tartare sauce , the chips were double cooked and with the effect that they were seemingly coated in a light batter. The cod was reassuringly white, soft in all the right places, mouth-melting, and the batter delicious and non-greasy.

My plus 1 in proceedings went with a chicken and black pudding pie and chips…

Every chip is the perfect chip

And

Mmmm

And basically silence as he emptied the box.

And along with a glass of wine, a beer, a can of pop, some trashy telly and a deep deep sense of relief and satisfaction that another working week has drawn to a close, what more can you want from your Friday night.

WA14 (and surrounding areas)? Take your place in that gastronomic waiting room on Ashley Road that is…WA14

And remember. Chippy tea is not just for Fridays, it’s for Mon – Saturdays. 1130-2100 (with a little rest from 1430-1630, Mon-Thursday’s).

For menus and full details head to https://fshnchps.co.uk/

cheshire · Dining · Events · Food and Drink · hale · Launch · lifestyle · Preview/Review · Restaurants · Uncategorized

Juniper Cafe Hale – bringing style to daytime dining

They do say that when one door closes another opens and that bittersweet fact is certainly true in Hale Village at the moment.

Whilst we mourn the disappearance of restaurants and businesses, there appears to be a plethora popping up in their place.

The latest arrival on the scene is Juniper. Now the fact the Juniper plant is an evergreen (yes I’ve performed a Google), bodes well for longevity.

I arrived like this (not really I walked).

Already successful in Bramhall, the stylish cafe has thrown open its doors in Hale and having already given its attractive fascia inquisitive side-eye over recent days, I was eager to step through.

Credit – Juniper Hale

The first thing that struck me was how tasteful and chic the furnishings and general look of Juniper are and is.

I had to double check that the establishment really did close at 7pm without an evening service as (and I don’t mean this in any way negative) there does tend to be a distinct difference in ambience between daytime eateries and those which venture into the evening. And Juniper has a feel of the latter.

If you’re heading to Juniper for breakfast, brunch, lunch, an afternoon snack or perhaps early bird dinner with the children, it has the feel of a destination place.

And indeed there’s no missing that that destination is Hale, given the beautiful local artwork on display by Hale artist, Neil Roland, especially commissioned for Juniper…

But does the food look as good as the decor?

Well yes!

But does it taste as good as it looks?

Also yes.

The menu covers a range of light food favourites, although don’t let ‘light’ fool you into thinking that you’re going to leave hungry.

Watching the dishes come out of the kitchen, I went full on meerkat sneaking a peak at those ordered by my fellow diners; smashed avocado, American pancakes, Belgian waffles, toasted bagels, Cheshire spring lamb kleftiko, Cajun chicken and a very exciting looking signature burger were just some of the plates promenaded by my table.

Eyes wide, mouth open, dignity just about intact, I allowed the procession to delight my senses but also to instil the terrible emotional state that is…

FOOD ENVY.

Dear god, what if I’ve chosen wrong.

I mean I had no option but to choose my choice.

Aside from the fact that it’s one of my favourite dishes, the name play was a pun after my own beating heart:

Behold the salad that is, the Hale Caesar:

You say Caesar, I say Geezer.

I was so smug when my dish was set down.

I mean of course I wasn’t.

Well yes I was.

Every single classic ingredient of the caesar was present (yes I’ve adopted such an affinity to it that I don’t even need to say the ‘salad’ bit now) and striking.

It came with parmesan. However, it was a parmesan basket. And parmesan crisps!

The chicken and bacon strips were plentiful, the leaves generous and crunchy, the croutons garlicky and the dressing classic.

My plus 1 (honestly he’s down with being made to be reduced to that insipid description) had to wait a little longer for his but…

*he’s a very patient man (he has to be – see me);

*it was only a very short wait; and

*he got to sample some pancakes whilst he waited.

His fajita chicken wrap was worth the wait.

Crunchy where it should be, soft in all the right places, the flavours worked wonderfully (I tried them just to make sure – my gender confusing name is on the line here) …

And never underestimate the power of a great chip.

They were great chips (again I tried them to allow me to keep on living my truth).

Great chips

I agree, great chips

Nigel Slater and your wonderful way of adding emotion, romance and nostalgia to your food descriptions? Eat your heart out.

And so thanks and praise go to the Head Chef, Saleh Ahmed and Manager, Imad Ammar, who, along with their charming and friendly team, are bringing an additional touch of style to Hale and its dining credentials.

For menus, bookings and indeed all the ‘deets’ please visit the Juniper website.

Now let’s end on another nod to the wonderfully named dish

Hale Caesar!

– second only to Hale Geezer in an exclusive list of locally influenced puns…

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

Altrincham, say hello to my Tre Ciccio

Tre Ciccio means three chubby friends.

Is that not the mostly lovely translation you ever did hear?

Such a lovely language.

After trips to Venice, Rome and with the prospect of a three week trip round parts of Italy for my honeymoon, I vowed to learn Italian.

I couldn’t keep saying

prego

to absolutely everything. Embarrassing.

At the time I was commuting every day to Leeds and so had plenty of train time to learn the language, 5 days a week.

Armed with the CDs (yes CDs) I started in earnest. I abandoned my mission in earnest too, rocked asleep by Transpennine Express (my excuse) sooner than you can say

sogni d’oro

(thank you google).

In fact during that futile attempt to make an effort, the only phrase that stuck was

Mi dispiace

I think mostly because I’m a serial apologiser (apologist?), but mostly because of the comedy, growly way it was said on the CD.

Yes, CD.

Anyway I have been back to Italy a couple of times since and am still pulling prego out of the bag, but at least internally I’m screaming mi dispiace each time.

And then it’s phrases like tre ciccio which make me want to download a podcast or something and engage more in the language than simply listening to it, googling it and knowing my favourite dishes.

And so we get to the point and the hidden charm that is Tre Ciccio.

Hidden isn’t entirely appropriate as a description, given that at the time of writing it only fully opens tonight and so it’s been less hidden, more actually not there yet.

But everything about Tre Ciccio makes you feel like you’ve discovered something special and secret. This could be down to its unassuming appearance – small, quaint but stylish and the narrow staircase which takes you down to what feels like an exclusive space which is candlelit and intimate (I can’t speak for the daytime yet).

Invited to the soft launch the evening before Moss Lane’s Tre Ciccio’s official opening on Valentine’s Day, I was lucky to try the latest arrival to Altrincham’s fast-growing gastronomic scene and I’m already looking to book in again to share the experience with my partner in crime.

We return to our lovely three chubby friends when we learn that chef Francesco took inspiration from a family run village restaurant he visited when on a return home to Campania, Southern Italy. Luckily for Altrincham, Franceso and two friends from the industry have turned what was a vision into reality right here.

What sets Tre Ciccio apart from the others is its signature dish of Roast Chicken and Potatoes. Or

Pollo Arrosto e Patate

Like the rest of the menu, the section dedicated to the Pollo was select, offering a small but adequate range of variations on a theme and not overwhelming, as some Italian menus can be, concentrating on a select range of anti pasti, salads and pizzas, in addition to the

Chicken and potatoes

(doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Mi Dispiace.

To start I tasted the Cuoppo Fritto:

The batter was light and tasty, the fish inside soft and juicy in all the right places.

Presentation was cute but not gimmicky, in a paper cone reminiscent of the seaside.

Back to the aforementioned 3 week English speaking trip…

Prego and so forth

we took in 6 separate destinations and quickly developed a constant variable by which to compare each place – the caprese.

Caprese takes mozzarella and tomatoes and generally basil – three beautiful flavours and colours – the Italian flag on a plate if you like. We consumed a high number of caprese and so have declared ourselves subject matter experts.

Tre Ciccio offered up a caprese salad – rocket, tomatoes and mozzarella, and I arrogantly declare it lovely. Tomatoes juicy yet firm, mozzarella creamy, rocket rockety! Peppery and fresh. I’m not going to delve into my thesaurus here.

And so we head back over to the chicken.

So original to see this dish, and variations thereof on an Italian menu.

Again, inspired by the southern region of Italy, I had the plain roast chicken and potatoes and there was nothing plain about it.

The flavours were out of this world – such a seemingly simple dish (although I doubt the attention to flavours and cooking method were without incredible thought and execution, given what I tasted) there’s nowhere to hide.

Tre Ciccio can stand proudly by this dish and I think it will ultimately be what sets them apart in the Italian dining world of Altrincham. I’m not adding any sort of hierarchy as all bring something great to the literal table but this is definitely what should take you to try Tre Ciccio for something different.

The skin is well seasoned and mouth-watering, the meat succulent, the potatoes possibly the best roast potatoes (I can’t deal with the term ‘roasties’ sorry – I’m precious I know ) up there with the best I’ve ever had if I’m honest. Fluffy, flavoursome and crispy in all the right places.

I promise upon ordering that I’d asked for a portion just for one (pinky promise) but ended up with a portion for two and much as I could probably have demolished it eventually (it was that good), I instead tried to retain some small piece of dignity.

I bravely asked for a doggy bag.

I’m actually lying, that concept traumatises me in case I’m told off for asking (I’m admittedly the biggest baby this side of Brooklands), my lovely fellow blogger Skinny Kitchen Secrets asked for me and those lovely people did oblige:

Dessert and I bore people to death with my

I don’t really have a sweet tooth. I mean I like sweet things but would rather have a starter or something savoury blah blah blah

But I took one for the team and tried dessert so that my lovely readers (my mum) don’t have to – yet you must.

I tried two.

Count them.

Well I shared.

It was tart Tuesday people (in my world anyway)! And both were beautiful. Special mention goes to the pistachio ice cream adorning the chocolate tart

Torta al Choccolato

And the light refreshing sorbet on the lemon tart.

Or

Torta al limon

On each, the base was light and crumbly, hosting (yes hosting) rich dark indulgent chocolate on one and zingy, refreshing lemon on the other.

Again, keeping the thesaurus on the shelf, I will simply say that as someone without out a sweet tooth, I could have eaten both. Twice over.

All in all, I was lucky to be invited to try Tre Ciccio at their soft launch but can say that I will be back in the next couple of weeks with my husband who would like to eat there without doing it from my doggy bag too. And I can’t wait to take him.

Altrincham, make your acquaintance with these delightful three new chubby friends –

You can say prego to me later.

(Mi Dispiace if that’s the wrong use of prego)

All the deets

Celebrity · cheshire · Dining · Events · Food and Drink · lifestyle · Preview/Review · Restaurants · Uncategorized

Trafford delivers fine dining as Si Toft and students inspire at Aspire 

I took home economics classes at high school as I’m sure everybody else did. They were basic. 

The first lesson we were all told to bring something in to cook during a double period (1 hour 10 minutes if I recall correctly).

I took in a packet of frozen fish fingers. You may mock but I was by no means the only one who took in similar gastronomic delights. Findus Crispy Pancakes rocked up to the classroom as did a Pot Noodle. 

I grilled my fish fingers with great flair and genius, and then ate said fish fingers. Let’s just say I made Captain Birdseye proud.  My ‘cooking’ and eating cannot have taken too long so goodness knows what I did for the rest of the lesson (aside from bask in my own culinary smugness). In fact the Pot Noodle chef must have really been twiddling their thumbs waiting for Geography.

I’ll never know the point to this – there wasn’t even a ‘moral of the story’ where the teacher said ‘ha, you’re all so ridiculous and basic and by the end of term you’ll be flambe-ing with the best of them, this daft lesson a distant memory’.

No, we all just went to Geography and the next week made a flan. 

No such randomness at Trafford College in Timperley. Last night I joined friends at the restaurant/classroom Aspire, to enjoy a wonderful 5 course menu as put together by guest chef Si Toft and students. 


Si, is a Timperley native but is currently treating the residents of, and visitors to, Abersoch, with his charming restaurant The Dining Room


The menu was impressive both in description and indeed taste:

I’m no Jay Rayner and but I’m certainly a person who eats food and loves food. And I loved this food. 

The potted shrimp and mussels were the perfect intro to the five courses. I attacked the dish with such gusto that most of it had been eaten before I remembered to take photographic evidence (as it should be – although if it’s not on Instagram was it even cooked, served and eaten?).


The Sea cured Mackerel was lovely, and the tang of the pickled vegetables cut through the succulent fish beautifully.

Next to the table, was the Cullen skink. Hands up, I had no idea what this was going to be. My best guess was fish, which was kind of true, but it was a thick Scottish soup with, I believe, potatoes, smoked haddock and onions. Again presentation was thoughtful and stylish. 


My favourite part of the dish was the seaweed crisp. Now here I know what  I’m talking about. Here I become less Gregg Wallace and more Charles Campion. Crisps are my bag. And these were mighty fine and certainly knocked the (still AMAZING) prawn cocktail Seabrook into a cocked hat.

After a delightful run of seafood dishes, meat made a magnificent entrance to the table with the bold and beautiful Roast lamb belly. A winter warmer indeed, the combination of lamb, bacon (I do love a lardon) and cockles delivered the right side of rich, beautiful flavours.


The best puddings are those that make you forget you were too full to eat anymore.

Enter the pannacotta, sorbet, meringue and star of the show, honey shortbread.

If the last dish was winter in a bowl, this was summer on a plate in both aesthetics and flavours.


In short, Si Toft and the wonderful students produced a menu which was imaginative, beautiful and delicious. My words may not come with culinary expertise and technical terms, but as a punter who loves food, I don’t think you can say fairer than that.

All the deets.

Dining · Food and Drink · Restaurants · Uncategorized

Bistrot Pierre – red sign at night; this diner’s delight…

French. It was a word that struck fear into my heart for four years at school. This was down to one Madame who used the language as almost a weapon.

The seemingly innocuous…

Bonjour la classe

…still has a Pavlovian effect on me – one of fear

Still, getting that ‘A’ enabled me to order that parmentier de poisson in Bistrot Pierre – Altrincham last Wednesday, and know that fish pie was incoming (and how).

Parmentier de poisson

 

Small chain restaurant, Bistrot Pierre, is reassuringly no Café Rouge – which is ironic, given the red hue to all of my images, as I basked under the red neon sign .

 It was already winning before a single saucisson was served (it’s not particularly a sausage based affair but alliteration- big fan).

Unveiled, the building immediately had an effect on Alty town.

The red light (predictably this is the only photograph in the whole collection without a red hue) and not forgetting the mural…

A lovely muriel, to quote Hilda (RIP) Ogden

… a beautiful addition to a town under immense regeneration (anyone mentioned the regeneration?).

I think the people behind Bistrot Pierre had already won fans just by the aesthetics they’ve brought to that corner of town, not least from me…

oooh la la!

not really. I edge towards the theatrical but I’ve never had an internal thought, or even external exclamation based on a clichéd French exclamation. See also me in Italy and ‘Mamma Mia’, or, erm Liverpool…

meff

I do like meff. It’s immense.

After tempting us with its pretty lights and mural, Bistrot Pierre finally opened its doors proper on Friday 2 December. A winning combo of its pre-opening popularity and my disorganisation, when it came to me booking I couldn’t get a table for dinner for a weekend or Thursday within at least the first fortnight, so a Wednesday evening it was. Which is the new so on and so forth.

Actually, the atmosphere was easily befitting of a weekend – busy, bustley, happy; the restaurant was thriving.

As detailed in one of my favourite Manchester blogs (ok, fair dos, it’s mine), I’m partial to a red light – Honorary Manc blog – Palace Hotel –  and so was very pleased to be seated in the window right under the red light

Roxanne, Roxanne…

I’ve basically done the obvious jokes in the Palace Hotel blog post, but one more never hurts.

The restaurant itself is stylish, smart and decidedly Parisian.

 

And the glorious red and iconic sign is the thing and leaves diners to bask in its glow (again, accounting for why all my food photographs look red. Still delicious, but red)…

 

The service is polite, not stuffy, attentive, not invasive, and the house glass of champagne cheap, cheerful and enjoyable (top of my wish-list – do they do a house champagne and is it reasonably priced enough to drink without abject guilt on a Wednesday when nobody’s achieved anything more that day, than managing a tram trip to town without tantrums and tears).

I’m still smarting from a couple of Mondays ago on the tram, when we were all crammed in like – well like humans in an Albert Square in December – and a lady commuter and self-appointed Tram Monitor boarded at Brooklands and started shouting at us all to move down as it’s

so unfair, oh it’s so unfair.

I should point out that since Altrincham station, us selfish standees had become closely acquainted enough to identify the brand of each’s others fabric softener, and, short of forming Cheshire’s answer to the Human Centipede, had nowhere else to go. I should secondly point out that the declarations of things being

so unfair, just so unfair

were called out from her ample and fairly roomy position ON THE TRAM.

I digress, I know, but it’s good to let things out, lest you think of them every morning, every Monday to Friday, when pulling into Brooklands station.

Back to the Bistrot, we ordered sourdough, olive oil, balsamic and a gently softened garlic bulb with which we brushed our way into garlic bread heaven. No we did. Delicious.

Starters, between us we ticked all the French staple boxes – fromage, champignons, bacon, cream and brioche.

 

The perfect time between courses, our magnificent mains arrived. My husband’s Boeuf Bourguignon not only tasted delightful but its presentation and make up a real surprise and treat.

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After enjoying all with a bottle of Grenache/Syrah, the two of us indulged in our oft performed end of dinner tango of…

yes, we’ll take a look at the dessert menu.

it doesn’t hurt to look

(weak laugh)

followed by the predictable and well-rehearsed…

Oh it all looks so tempting, but we’re just too full!

We’re having to admit defeat!

ha ha. ha….ha.

Ever polite, ever gracious, our server joined our laughter, pretending he’d never been privy to the whole tedious routine before, and so we left. Despite the story that this image suggests, we paid before exiting…

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Not beating a hastry retreat without paying. He’s just a bit light on his feet. Runner, that is.

 

So there we have it, Altrincham, Hale and surrounding areas (out of towners could even tram hop to it – I promise Tram Monitor only appears at peak times, Monday to Friday. At Brooklands), Bistrot Pierre is mighty fine. Bon, you might say.

Bon. C’est tres bon.

Merci Madame, for enabling me to one day round off a blog post with some basic French. And assisting me in finding my round a menu in Altrincham. Oh and I did check into that Ibis in St Omer without hilarious consequences too. Or aussi, as we say in France.