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The Wizard review

Ruth Allan likes an Alderley Edge fave but would like more..er..well edge

Published on May 13th 2009.


The Wizard review

Talking on the radio is a lot harder than it sounds. Recently I was asked onto the local breakfast show to talk about cheap food deals. As someone who eats out as much as possible (and as much in quantity as possible), without spending too much cash, I know a lot about the subject. I’m not sure if that came across, though.

The word ‘random’ certainly did, as did mentions of Ithaca and Room, who were both offering bargain dinners deals. But I’m annoyed that I missed out the Wizard in Alderley Edge because they’re one of the best.

Ten years old and dishing up solid, modern European grub, this elegant restaurant has an outstanding offer on for the foreseeable future. It’s two courses from a condensed menu for just £10, meaning that you can enjoy hunks of juicy salmon and sticky toffee pudding for the price of a foot-file from Argos. Now, that’s got to be a bargain, hasn’t it?

I certainly enjoyed myself when my friend Dave and I drove out there. The Wizard lies right next to the main car park up on the Edge. The white facade is a well-known landmark for the thousands who annually stroll the National Trust owned Alderley Edge park and forest. With its escarpment and ancient trees, this attractive slice of Cheshire, has inspired many tales of the supernatural – Alan Garner’s classic kids book The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen, for example – and it’s the kind of place where you can imagine elves, dwarves and goblins doing battle.

Sadly, not many were out elf-spotting on a cold Tuesday night, and the restaurant was quiet. So quiet, in fact, that we were the only people eating. I’d find this irritating anywhere else - after all, no one wants waiters listening to their inebriated opinions, do they? – but I didn’t mind too much. Restaurant manager, Dominic Gottelier, left us largely to our own devices, and there were plenty of talking points about the room too. The old tapestry above the hearth, for example, and the bruised breastplate from a suit of armour. Where do you find something like that?

Being an old coaching inn, it’s higgledy-piggledy inside. The walls stand in unpredictable places and antique furniture lies scattered about in a casual way. Underfoot, a coffee-coloured carpet warms the rolling, 16th century flagstones and it feels posh, like you’re eating out for a special occasion.

Opting for the £10 menu (me), and the a-la-carte (Dave) we ploughed through six hearty courses between us. Food was complemented by two glasses of citrusy house white (Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, £3.80 for 175ml and very good too) and a lager, and the bill came to under £60.

With portion sizes bordering on the epic, the only thing that the Wizard appears to have scrimped on (and only a tiny bit) is flavour. My cauliflower soup (£4.95) was a almost soulless. It wasn’t up there with The Glass House’s sumptuous version, which comes decked in olives and cheese straws. Dave’s traditional prawn cocktail (£5.50) wasn’t lacking in flavour, although it was very large. I reckon there must’ve been half of Asia’s prawn quota in there, but it had a juicy, lemon-meets-creamy taste. It was simply presented in a basket of gem lettuce leaves. Nice touch that, very confident.

The only other possible downer was the gammon part of Dave’s gammon, fried egg and duck-fat chips combo (£10), which came with a pot of pineapple chutney on the side. ‘It’s a bit insipid, this gammon’ he said, but we agreed that the good outweighed the bad.

My roast salmon on a podium of crushed potatoes, goat’s cheese and basil oil (£11.75) was the kind of thing I wish I could pull off at home, while for dessert, Dave’s sticky toffee pudding (£5.50) oozed treacle like a plantation, and my crème brulee (£5.50) was all one could hope for in terms of cream and crispy brown sugar. A little more vanilla wouldn’t have gone amiss, or perhaps another kind of fruit on the side. Redcurrants look a bit sterile, I think, unless they’re in a compote but I might be accused of being fussy.

The Wizard is no flash in the pan. Both Mr Gottelier and his head chef Paul Beattie have been doing their thing here for over eight years, so if it’s a fizzy new place you’re after, look elsewhere. The Wizard offers a simple, elegant environment in which to enjoy reasonable food. The current Michelin guide has placed it in their Bib Gourmand category, which indicates good food at a good price - the whole affair is rather romantic too. It won’t impress everyone, I’m sure, but the Wizard has subtle panache. A little more pizzazz on the food front wouldn’t go amiss, but overall, recommended.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

PedanticMay 13th 2009.

Confused, the review clearly states that the £10 set menu was for two courses, and they had three. Also, the reviewer's guest dined from the a la carte menu. For someone who's clearly got such an interest in this review that you felt the need to post such negative feedback, I would have thought you might have managed to read it a little more carefully!

Confused but happier !May 13th 2009.

I'm with you Al unless of course thats Al for Alan as opposed to Al for Alison....( no offence anybody!) Just when you get jumped up ass holes being sm@rt @rses and not thinking but quite happy to put people down, my comments were based on the writers notes and not my own !Matter now put to bed !

Very Very ConfusedMay 13th 2009.

I must admit in the defence of all previously confused commentors, that the food review was not of the usual high standard I have come to enjoy, and the resulting rating was strangely reached. My main point is, please can we have some accuracy on these reviews, I along with other readers use them as an aid to decide where to eat out, poorly researched reviews are of no help, in this instance we have people complimenting you on your food pix when this is just a stock photo, neither of the diners had Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, so whats the point in posting said illustration.

Beefy StewMay 13th 2009.

Yes, how is it only Gordo gets the decent photos up? Will the editor not spend money on anyone else? i would be pissed off if I was one of the other food writers.

Lady WarlockMay 13th 2009.

I'm game

Confused !May 13th 2009.

So to recap, this restaurant was empty,they "scrimped on flavour"..."the cauliflower soup was almost soulless", the gammon was "a bit insipid", the creme brulee needed "a little more vanilla wouldn't have gone amiss" or even " another kind of fruit on the side"....and to finish, "A little more pizzazz on the food front wouldn’t go amiss".....Are you sure it was worthy of 7/10 ? Also to award it 5/5 for service and 3.5/5 for ambience (was there one ?) when you are the only ones in dining is somewhat misleading when total scores are compared to similar restaurants ?Also, there seems to be an error with the bill total, unless of course the lager came to almost £15 ? As if you had the set menu @ £10 the figures don't add up !All in all a somewhat misleading review !

cleoMay 13th 2009.

of the food, i hasten to add!

helen tMay 13th 2009.

I ate at The Wizard recently on a Saturday night. Food was good but the place was full and service was slow and sporadic. Bit waits between courses. However, I did complain but nicely and received an apology and a reduction in the bill to cover the puddings. I would go again.

AvoMay 13th 2009.

Al, you can lay me anytime sweetheart.

EditorialMay 13th 2009.

Apologies folks. Photos will be up shortly. Thanks.

cleoMay 13th 2009.

no photos ruth? shame....

alMay 13th 2009.

Technically you're both right. If you add up the totals it comes to about £40 for the food and two wines. To get to £60, either the lager was very expensive or they left a very generous tip. However the article does state that the bill came to under £60, it does not quantify how much under. Now shall we all stop being pedantic and try and get laid?

Adam MacMay 13th 2009.

I've spotted a grammatical error in the 3rd sentence. Surely it should read “As someone who eats out”? Can I have a free meal at said restaurant as a prize for identifying such woeful proof reading?

Three RsMay 13th 2009.

"Hear hear" ffs...

Even more Confused !May 13th 2009.

Pedantic.....before you start correcting people i think it may be better if you study maths first, i am well aware that one diner ate from the set menu, and then would have been charged extra for the dessert as is usually the case ! and also fully aware that the other diner ate from the al la carte menu !i think if you go and read my comments again, and study the write up a little more, you will realsie how wrong your comments are and maybe feel a little embarrased, although it may be too much for you to state that on this page.I also wasn't being negative only highlighting what the reviewer had stated, none of the above were my comments ! Again, perhaps if you read it all again, maybe alittle slower so you can maybe take it in, (and possibly do a little tot up if your own) you will agree ?I am not saying that this restaurant doesn't deserve the 15.5 points, just when over 50% of the points are made up of service and ambience when a restaurant is empty maybe a little unfair when compared to a very busy restaurant under a lot of pressure. the only justifiable comments would therefore be on the food, which from the writers comments were negative !

Krystal CarringtonMay 13th 2009.

Here here Al. ; )

RobcmarMay 13th 2009.

I always enjoy the food reviews and find them very helpful. On a stylistic note however I feel it would be better if the cost of the food was presented at the end of the article in the style of an actual bill.

AnonymousMay 13th 2009.

excellent food photo. are there more to come?

cleoMay 13th 2009.

avo. you are so easy.....

helen tMay 13th 2009.

I ate at The Wizard recently on a Saturday night. Food was good but the place was full and service was slow and sporadic. Big waits between courses. However, I did complain but nicely and received an apology and a reduction in the bill to cover the puddings. I would go again.

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