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Belle Epoque Restaurant Examined

Neil Sowerby kcan-kcans to Knutsford

Written by . Published on June 8th 2014.


Belle Epoque Restaurant Examined
 

EMPIRES don’t get more close-knit than Matthew Mooney’s. 

Highlight of what came out for us in an impromptu tasting menu was undoubtedly scallops with chicken confit and shallot puree, simple and inspired, the textures and taste in harmony. Alone worth the trip to Knutsford. 

Firstly the Belle Epoque owner transformed the Rose and Crown next door into a hugely successful and welcoming chophouse with rooms. Now a year on he’s travelled a whole 150 yards away from his art nouveau King Street base to take on the Freemasons Arms on Silk Mill Street.  

 Belle Epoque Exterior

Belle Epoque Exterior

This pub, too, will boast bedrooms, six of them, perfect for overspill from the Belle Epoque’s wedding trade. It will share car parking with the Rose and Crown and be decorated apparently "in a bohemian manner".  

Well, it’s going to have to go it some to trump the mothership for sheer leftfield loucheness.  

Forty years under the stewardship of the Mooney family, it opted a decade ago to offer a more casual brasserie cuisine. Calming the culinary offering down didn’t mean sacrificing the pink and scarlet fin de siecle bordello bravado of the decor. If your waiter turned out to be Toulouse Lautrec (look down, sir, dare I tempt you with a shot of absinthe?) you wouldn’t be surprised. 

 Time warp bar

Time warp bar

Our front of a house manager for a recent lunch visit turned out to be one Albert Blaize, Moulin Rouge kind of name, but a thoroughly modern, recent recruit. Service spot on and food, too, from a kitchen in the capable hands of Kevin Lynn, aided by Dylan Owens, ex-Church Green, who is in the semi-finals of this year’s National Chef of the Year awards and made the final eighteen for the prestigious Roux Scholarships. 

Highlight of what came out for us in an impromptu tasting menu was undoubtedly scallops with chicken confit and shallot puree, simple and inspired, the textures and taste in harmony. Alone worth the trip to Knutsford. 

Scottish Scallops, Confit Chicken, Shallot Puree

Scottish scallops, confit chicken, shallot puree

The vanilla mash accompanying a main of Goosnargh duck breast sounded vaguely challenging, but offered a delicate sweetness in tandem with tiny pineapple cubes, roast and confit.   

The meal if anything was mite too decorous with a love of sweetness at the core. Fine with the natural sugars of a starter of pea soup with a square of poached skate, the flesh thankfully lifted off its gelatinous ribs. Not quite so fine with a ball of duck liver parfait on gingerbread, which was cloying. Duck Liver Parfait, Infused Sultanas, Gingerbrea

Duck liver parfait, infused sultanas, gingerbread

Honeycomb parfait to close with caramel and frozen chocolate mousse was a tester for my ageing teeth but fun in a kind of Maltesers meets Magnum way. 

The Belle Epoque is fun also in its ludicrously ooh la la fashion. Bring on Mademoiselle Fifi and the dancing troupe, we say.   

Neil Sowerby was a guest of the Belle Epoque while in Knutsford helping his daughter launch her new spa just down the road - but his thoughts are honestly given, about the food on offer here. 

The Belle Epoque, 60 King Street, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 6DT. 01565 633 060

Belle Epoques Lush Garden, Perfect For Wedding ReceptionsBelle Epoque's lush garden, perfect for parties and matrimony

Goosnargh Duck And Pineapple, Vanilla PotatoesGoosnargh duck and pineapple, vanilla potatoes

Honeycomb Parfait, Caramel, Frozen Chocolate MousseHoneycomb parfait, caramel, frozen chocolate mousse

Pea Soup, Poached SkatePea soup, poached skate

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