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Brasserie At The Alderley Edge: The Good Side Of Retro

Jonathan Schofield enjoys scampi, syrup and sponge

Published on April 19th 2012.

Brasserie At The Alderley Edge: The Good Side Of Retro

A COUPLE of years ago I went to the Alderley Edge Hotel for dinner and was mightily impressed with the cooking of Chris Holland and his second-in-command and pastry chef Scott Surtees. There was a confidence about the menu and real talent in the execution of the dishes.

I still recall the roasted lobster sausage with citrus jelly and the clever and creative version of hot cross buns. I noted at the time these were both Michelin star dishes, probably two star.

If you’re excursioning over the weekend and had put a walk on the Edge in the diary, then this would sort you out for a cracking lunch or dinner.

Problem was for the Alderley Edge Hotel that residents, certainly if staying for a while, would sometimes baulk at the prices and the richness of the fine dining. Instead they'd tumble down into the main village where a gaggle of grillhouses sang like sirens with songs of simpler food.

The Alderley has put that right with a cracking brasserie menu of good value and great flavours.

It’s a deliberately and self-consciously ‘retro’ menu which could be irritating if not delivered with such panache and if it didn’t suit the venue down to a tee – there is after all something quintessentially English, Terry Thomas, Ealing Comedy and E-Type jag about the Alderley.

Again this is fitting, it is owned by the venerable north Manchester brewery JW Lees, one of our oldest food and drink companies from 1828.

The BrasserieThe Brasserie

My brasserie starter of twice baked three cheese soufflé for £4.95 was as good as it gets, smelly as the worse kind of three-day socks, but somehow all the better for that. It was so mouth-bustingly gorgeous I could have eaten a dish three times the size. The texture control was perfect with spinach and delightful truffle croutons adding munch. Jeez, it’d be worth the trip to Alderley for this dish alone.

The Alderley prawn and crayfish cocktail (main picture above and £5.95) looked gorgeous too, with, apparently, the apple and cucumber flying through the flavours to give extra edge. I say apparently because my fifteen-year-old son and would-be food critic, knocked it back so quickly I didn’t get a look-in.

More delight came with the mains.

The beef burger for £13.75 with prime aged flesh, clean yet tangy pickled onion relish, and sharp, fresh, utterly unsoggy fries, is really the way all burgers should be done. I’m not an aficionado of burgers but this one and the one at Almost Famous Burgers (click here) have turned me American. The richness of the meat is the key, its affable give, its juiciness melding into the bun.

Burger beautifulBurger beautiful

More fun was provided by a cunning scampi and monkfish in a basket complete with fake newspaper and a fabulous home-made tartar sauce and chunky chips. This was £13.75, worth every penny, and the way I like my Manchester Evening News.

Of course, true scampi was used, not motorway service station fodder, and again the word juicy has to be applied. The flesh was moist under the breadcrumbs not a sort of edible cotton-wool as is so often the case.

Scampi and monkfishScampi and monkfish

I’m running out of space but special mention should also be made of the rich beef and mushroom pie made with JW Lees ale and charmed with roasted carrot. This was £12.50. While a side of sautéed cabbage and bacon at £3.50 maintained the standard. The youngest child didn’t fancy anything on the menu so we asked if the kitchen could just provide sausage and chips – they could and he wolfed it down.

Pie highPie high

For pudds we had a baked rice pudding with apple and crunchy rice, and the poached new season rhubarb and custard, both at £4.95, and both exquisite. But the star arrived in an original Tate & Lyle tin and was the warm golden syrup sponge with real custard for £5.95. Lush it was madam, classic, toothsome  – give me three or four at a time, massage me with it.

Mad but grandMad but grand

A real bonus at Alderley is the winelist which is sourced from the wine company owned by JW Lees, Willoughbys, and covers all bases from around the £15 mark right up to a 1953 Chateau Latour at over a grand then plus some. We had a more modestly priced Chablis Latour at around £30 and basked in its cool sophistication.

All in all this was a meal that matched the full a la carte experience a couple of years ago in execution and presentation if not in the finer details.

If you’re excursioning over the weekend and planning a walk on Alderley Edge, then the brasserie would sort you out for a cracking lunch or dinner. It's no more expensive than my recent visit to Carluccio’s in the city centre and is so much better. It’s generally cheaper than the food options in Alderley Edge Village too.

We stayed over at the hotel and enjoyed the full English breakfast the following day. For people who work in the city centre it's pleasant to view Beetham Tower fourteen miles north and give work the V-sign. The Delamere is a splendid room that's just been refurbished if you can get it, spacious with an excellent bathroom. Be a bit careful with the not so recently made-over rooms. 

Alderley 001Beetham in the distance - a phallic urban smudge

There are deals available such as the Father’s Day Lunch on Sunday 17 June in the a la carte restaurant consisting of a three course Sunday lunch with coffee and petits fours for £23.95 per person. There’s also a £250 dinner, bed and breakfast per couple promotion on-going. 

The meal was hosted by the Alderley Edge Hotel so I can't score it as Confidential usually does.

But I want to really underline how good Chris Holland's food is and point out that a hosted meal is no guarantee of a review on these pages if the experience is poor. Chris's food is excellent, some of the best in the region. On our usual scale of marking this would have been 'exceptional', a 17/20.

The Alderley Edge Hotel is at Macclesfield Road, Alderley Edge.
Cheshire, SK9 7BJ. 01625 583 033. Website here

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield


Souffle desireSouffle desire

Cabbage sideCabbage side

The Delamere roomThe Delamere room


Alderley EdgeAlderley Edge


Breakfast - no beans for me pleaseBreakfast - no beans for me please

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