The Alderley manages to avoid the footballers wives glitz that pervades much the village of Alderley Edge. It does this with a simple formula – cook good food, serve it up with skill in pleasant surroundings. It’s really not that hard, is it? It'll get you three AA Rosettes and a 3 in the Good Food Guide.
The hotel, like almost all the 19th century “big houses” in Alderley, is Victorian gothic but the restaurant is in a light airy modern conservatory. And, in an aspect important at my time of life if I’m going to be sat in one place for a couple of hours, the chairs are very comfortable. Service hits that difficult balance between formality and friendly approachability.
And the food reads very well on the three menus on offer. Although perhaps too great an emphasis on sous vide and espumas/foams for us. There’s a main carte with half a dozen or so choices at each course. There’s a decent looking tasting menu. And there’s a very attractive “market menu” priced at £35 (although we’d noted that the website has it at £29.95). It was this from which we decided to order.
Bread came quickly. White, wholemeal and an excellent cheese & onion. This was wolfed down and a restocking was offered and accepted. The amuse brought the almost obligatory cup of soup – a warm parmesan cream, topped with the first of the espumas (butternut squash) with a sprinkling of bacon on top. Good flavour but the mix of the hot and cold soon merged to become simply tepid.
For starters proper, there was a pressed veal terrine. A delicate flavour here that I liked, sharpened with a julienne of Granny Smith. A scattering of seeds and some micro-salad provided a texture contrast. My partner was enjoying a few salmon and shrimp fritters – good fishy flavour, crisp outer crumb. They sat on some wilted spinach. Alongside, a thick mousse like langoustine espuma and a blob of orange and saffron sauce.
Local beef three ways (although it had a more elegant menu name that I can’t recall) – medium rare fillet, some long braised stuff and a few nuggets of just cooked liver. There was wilted kale, a cep puree and sauté potatoes (swapped for the advertised mash). Oh, this was good. Very good.
I’d gone with the girly dish of roast hake. A lovely piece of fish that would have been lovelier if the skin had been crispy (or if it had been removed). There really is no real pleasure in eating flabby skin. There was wilted greens here as well, a thin tomato “broth”, a scattering of brown shrimps and a few dots of veg (cucumber?).
There was pre-dessert that didn’t really work for either us. Undercooked rhubarb seems currently fashionable and, hopefully, fashions will soon change. The slivers of the fruit topped with an unmemorable foam.
Puds were proper affairs. Banana soufflé was restrained in its use of banana but was, otherwise, a fine example of the soufflé makers craft. A caramel ice cream and few slices of banana worked well with it. I’d been intrigued by the gingerbread arctic roll - a thin roll of the cake encased ice cream. But the real stars here were the sous vide plums and an intense thick sauce of Poynton damsons. Really good.
And to finish, good coffee served in a “proper” pot. And OK petit fours.
A place to go back to, I think.