Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Sticky Walnut, Hoole, Chester

You had me at Hello ! 

Over the last couple of months I've read nothing but praise and compliments heaped on a small neighbourhood restaurant in the village of Hoole on the fringe of Chester. 

Head chef and owner Gary usher has had a brilliant career before setting up sticky Walnut, you can read about him and the team HERE on the website.

"Sticky Walnut" I liked the name, the look of the restaurant and I liked the menu. Since my partner and I were having an overnight stay in Chester we decided to take the opportunity to eat here. 

Once booked it instantly became the focal point of our visit, ( that's what being a foodie does to you ! ) Sticky Walnut instantly had us with it's charm, I love neighbourhood restaurants, we have a couple of good ones at home. This one in particular nestled in Charles street, has a very similar look and feel to Lark lane in Liverpool close to where we live and had us feeling right at home. 

Intimate, rustic with upstairs dinning too. 

Fantastic looking menu, I could have easily chosen several dishes off this.

We both chose the same starter, Oven roast beets, sticky walnuts, spicy pumpkin seeds, fresh ricotta.

We both loved this dish, it was the perfect start to what turned out to be a very enjoyable relaxed dining experience. The combination of ingredients were brilliant, colourful and vibrant. What I thought even more clever about this dish was just how well the textures worked too. Slight al dente beets with crunchy candied walnuts, soft whipped ricotta and a little spice but total nuttiness from the pumpkin seeds, it was just fantastic. 

My mains - Braised lamb neck,courgette salsa, goats cheese and potato gnocchi.

I love neck of lamb and all inexpensive cuts of meat that benefit from long slow cooking.
This lamb was meltingly tender and full of flavour, the courgette salsa had a fabulous deep tomato flavour accompanied with little pillows of goats cheese Gnocchi. With the addition of a side order of truffle and Parmesan chips, this dish was all kinds of right ! 

My partners main - Rolled and stuffed belly pork, crispy crackling, smokey bacon lentils.

Too wrapped up in my own meal to taste a morsel of my partners I was assured the pork was moist , tender, flavoursome and the crackling was to die for. The smokey bacon lentils where equally enjoyed and was a welcome change to a bed of mash ! However any carb fix was supplied by a couple of the truffle and Parmesan chips. 

Sides to share - Hand cut truffle and Parmesan chips.

I would imagine the picture says it all how perfectly crunchy these chips where by the look of them but let me tell you the insides were perfectly fluffy and the taste of earthy truffle and slight saltiness from the Parmesan without doubt put these in the best chips I've ever had category. 

My desert- Dark chocolate and cherry mousse, honeycomb.
I struggled between two deserts but plumped for a classic combo of chocolate and cherries and it was good. The honeycomb although in the picture looks like a big solid chunk that you would struggle to bite elegantly was in fact very airy, crumbling easily and with a slight bitter caramel taste was perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the cherries and richness of the chocolate.

My partners desert - English plumb Eton mess.

If Eton mess is on the menu my partner will be hard pressed to pick anything else ! Described as English plumb my partner was delighted that some traditional raspberries amongst other berries was also in there. A real winner. 

What I also love to see is a restaurant where children are eating what's on the menu, I witnessed three couples each with a very young child happily tucking in to proper meals. Great to see parents introducing young children to good food. 

Another mention to the Two young front of house staff ladies who were attentive and very pleasant during our time at Sticky Walnut, a real asset to any restaurant.