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REVIEW: The Wizard | Alderley Edge

Deanna Thomas on a striking but average Cheshire pub

Written by . Published on December 23rd 2014.

REVIEW: The Wizard | Alderley Edge

IT ONLY took three moves for the waitress to decide she didn’t like me and I wasn’t even trying.

I watched various customers get up to fetch their own cutlery after their mains had been delivered and go up to the bar to order something to wash it down with.

In fact, when I’m reviewing, I go out of my way not to be noticed. Firstly, I politely objected to being shown to a dark, cramped table, and then I got a bit confused as to which of the different chalk board menus I should be choosing from. Finally, my Diet Coke was flat, with not a single bubble, even though she insisted ‘it had just come out of the can’. I let it go but could sense throughout the meal that she’d marked me out as a ‘bad’ customer.

A former-coaching inn dating back to the 16th century, The Wizard is a striking white pub on the road between Macclesfield and Wilmslow near the actual edge of Alderley Edge. It’s a regular destination for dog walkers and families out for a ramble in the ancient woods nearby. Bowls of water and biscuits are supplied to canine guests. The Wizard is a genuinely traditional English pub with a series of small rooms, uneven stone floors and low beamed ceilings.

The WizardThe Wizard

Traditional Cosy InteriorTraditional Cosy Interior

Although it’s a Thwaites pub, they also offer guest ales from one of Cheshire’s many independent breweries such as Storm Brewing Company in Macclesfield. The door is plastered with stickers marking its awards and accolades, including a Michelin Guide recommendation (although no Bib Gourmand in recent years) and one that highlights the fact that Square Meal had reviewed it (it didn’t go into detail about whether they’d thought it was any good, just that they’d reviewed.)

The lunchtime menu is shorter than the evening menu, listing a selection of salads, soups, sandwiches and daily specials. You’ll also find a handful of pub classics which, whilst predictable, are the dishes most people would welcome before or after a hearty walk; Haddock, chips and peas, a proper burger, Cheshire cheese and onion pie, gammon, duck egg and fancy chips and so on.

We were after some more inspired choices to start so opted for scallops with crisp Parma ham and salted beets from the special’s board. The fresh, plump scallops were juicy and sweet and my husband has been mithering me to make salted beets at home ever since, but we felt the £9.95 price tag was pushing it a bit.

Seared ScallopsSeared Scallops

Ham Hock TerrineHam Hock Terrine

Ham hock and caper terrine with piccalilli and toasted bloomer was more palatably priced at £6.95. The terrine was well put together but salty and they’d made a good job of the piccalilli which had good flavour and colour from the turmeric but would have benefited from more vinegar to pack a picklier punch.

My main course also came from the specials board, pan-fried mackerel with green bean and tomato ragout (£16.50, main image). Decent size, good mix of flavours and textures, all served on a well made, crispy fishcake. My husband’s main came from ‘Wizard lunch classics’ with the extremely lengthy title ‘Duo of beef, braised Beef suet pudding, seared 4oz rump steak, saffron fondant potato, beetroot puree, tender stem broccoli, roasted shallots and red wine sauce’ (£17.95). This was good looking but a lot less successful with many of the components having had had their cooking times mixed up. The suet pudding had been cooked for far too long resulting in a heavy pastry casing and a stringy dried out filling, whilst the broccoli had only briefly been introduced to hot water. The rump was tender enough and rare as requested, but actually tasted of nothing.

The service was lax and it was only moderately busy with no particularly large Christmas parties in. I watched various customers get up to fetch their own cutlery after their mains had been delivered and go up to the bar to order something to wash it down with, as no-one had asked.

Over Steamed PuddingOver Steamed Pudding

In the end we resorted to being entertained and exasperated by snatches of conversation from the other diners, some of whom were actually mad. I nicknamed the man on the next table ‘the King of Cheshire’ as he robustly regaled his dining buddy with tales of hunting and ‘something point seven million’ business deals in a voice so posh it made Penelope Keith sound like she belongs in Eastenders in comparison.

Eventually, I caught the eye of our waitress, and ordered sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream (£5.95) which my husband (after digging deep to find adjectives) could only describe as ‘nice’ and ‘fine, it was fine.’

I’ve driven past The Wizard a few times on the way to the National Trust forest for a walk but haven’t been in for years. I’m still quite fond of it and would recommend it to others if they were in the area, but am still struggling to find any better adjectives than my husband did to describe the whole experience.


All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship.

The Wizard, Macclesfield Road, Nether Alderley, Cheshire, SK10 4UB. 01625 584 000.

Rating: 11/20

Food: 6/10 (scallops 7, terrine 6, beef 5, mackerel 6, sticky toffee 6)

Service: 2/5 (not naturally inclined towards the hospitality trade)

Ambience: 3/5 (charming, traditional)

PLEASE NOTE: 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, 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

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

Deanna ThomasDecember 23rd 2014.

Ha! Just noticed on the receipt that the chuffing waitress charged me for TWO sticky toffee puddings instead of the one we actually ordered.

AnonymousDecember 23rd 2014.

This is a shame, I've always liked the place and the service used to be great, but haven't been in about a year, hopefully it was an off day for them

Kit FeberDecember 23rd 2014.

She probably voided one after you left, cashed your bill off and took the £5.95 for herself....

Kit FeberDecember 23rd 2014.

Or more likely just a mistake...

Rebecca WalkerDecember 23rd 2014.

I love it here, I think the food is good, unfortunately the front of house and waiting staff think they are working in Karen Millen in the late '90's... I will still go for my Sunday lunch though...

David OlliverDecember 23rd 2014.

These days,eating establishments care more about presentation than content,why,I do not know:immediately it arrives,it is all going to be rapidly disassembled,and eaten.It is the experience of eating the food which is the main concern.It does not have to look like a picture painted by an artist.The point is that poorly prepared food is disguised by artistic presentation.

Jennifer RenneeDecember 23rd 2014.

You were lucky to get food!! Half the time they seem to shut the kitchen whenever they feel like it with no official serving times which is a shame it use to be great, given up the gamble now...

CKRISGDecember 23rd 2014.

Nether Alderley...Thats pushing it a bot thought this was Manchester Confidential

1 Response: Reply To This...
rinkydinkDecember 23rd 2014.

Oh God. A boundary bore

RobDecember 26th 2014.

Awful place, best head on into alderley edge proper

Manci DoodleJanuary 6th 2015.

I think you have missed the point about this place. Those of us who go there know the service is hit and miss but the food is decent and the set price menus and deals give really good value in a lovely walking area where there is nowhere else to eat. I take it this reviewer is not a rambler other than a verbal one...

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Latest Rants


Agreed, a right dump

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Who remembers The King? Now that was a pub, before the NQ was the NQ. No hipsters in there.

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Yet people pay 20 pounds plus for terrible American burgers at other places in the northern quarter…

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Particularly Canal street, I believe that someone saw a gay man and a lesbian down there last week.…

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