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GORDO: Belle Epoque | Knutsford

The Fat One on one of the North West's best restaurant buildings come good again

Written by . Published on February 11th 2015.


GORDO: Belle Epoque | Knutsford
 

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NEVER go back. That’s what Gordo always tells himself about great women and superb restaurants. He fails normally, on both accounts.

Food is serious stuff based on cookbooks from the Belle Epoque era; wild duck, seared cod cheeks, Chateaubriand

The love of his life has lived in a country far, far away for the past three and a half decades and is on her third husband, but Gordo still finds himself dreaming of getting on the plane for the tenth time to try and inveigle himself back into her favours. Within a week, the pair are at each other’s throats.

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With restaurants, the memories don’t normally equate to the reality of today. Sharrow Bay in Ullswater is still good, but a shadow of its late seventies heyday under the owner Francis Coulson and the delightful Brian Sack. A beautiful place still, but not bananas anymore.

The Belle Epoque is another fabulous gaff that, during its heyday, was one of the best Escoffier restaurants in the North West. It lost its way for a while and whilst still an astonishing building, was better known for catering than for a dining experience. It was, well, a building experience. You'd put up with the lacklustre food for the atmosphere.

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Then, one of Gordo’s trusties, Lottie Moore, or Greedy Chops as she's known across the social media world, excitedly told him of a new restaurant she had found, The Belle Époque. Oh, the young people of today, eh? 

“It was the restaurant I took the love of my life to 35 years ago’’ said Gordo. “It’s not very good now”. 

“Bollocks Fatty,” says the food botherer, "get over there; I had a really fabulous meal.”

Two months later Gordo visited for lunch and was interested to see what, if anything, had changed.

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Not a lot from the point of view of the building; it’s still probably one of the best five restaurants buildings in the North West with the added benefit that it’s only 25 minutes from the city. The name says it all, Belle Epoque, built in 1907 the gaff wouldn’t look out of place in a Harry Potter movie.

The food has changed. Whilst this is not an official review, Gordo is happy to place it on his official ‘Gordo Go’ list. Whilst still in the ownership of the Mooney Family, it appears the kitchen has been cleared out in the last few years by the current owner, Matthew Mooney, re-invigorating the menu.

Service is very good. The staff know what they are doing and operate with a wry smile on their faces.

Food is serious stuff based on cookbooks from the Belle Epoque era; wild duck, seared cod cheeks, Chateaubriand (with made-in-the-kitchen béarnaise) and wood pigeon. The vegetarian dishes have been praised. The triple cooked chips are bang on. 

This place is the whole deal; yes, they still do the weddings, but if you’re looking for a place for a romantic meal, a family meal, somewhere as an antidote to dirty food, where you can put your glad rags on, then go. It’s an experience. A delightful one.

Gordo

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