Doffing my cap
The Bridge Hotel is polishing up its long-held reputation as a lynchpin of Prestbury hospitality Cheshire Life: January 2019
The good people of Cheshire’s Golden Triangle have been quaffing, dining and generally expecting the best at The Bridge Hotel since 1952. It’s a building which dates back almost 400 years - a natural venue for weddings and conferences, boasting a restaurant which, in recent years, enjoyed a more mature clientele.
But past successes go unrespected as the hospitality business churns ever onwards. The Bridge went into administration in October 2017. Time for a new start. Up popped Flat Cap Hotels, taking on The Bridge as their third property after The Vicarage at Holmes Chapel and The Courthouse at Knutsford. The common theme with all three is the historic character of the building and a strong, seasonal modern British food offering courtesy of executive chef Steven Tuke.
In The Bridge’s case, the main restaurant reeks of history. There is wonderful gnarled woodwork in the high ceilings of this long thin room, and low beams too at the entrance to the bar. There’s more bare, ancient woodwork in the bar and stone floors giving it a real country inn feel.
Flat Cap have exposed as much of this historic fabric as possible, and then added a little wit in the decor. There’s a crop of clocks on the wall, a smattering of mirrors, a gaggle of globes and - as at The Vicarage - a window in the floor of the bar to give a view into the cellar. Best of all, there’s a wooden horse’s head sporting a flat cap. The Bridge’s restaurant is, then, a very pleasant place to be. What about the food?
But first we lingered in that bar enjoying The Bridge’s signature cocktails. The Librarian (£9.50) is an espresso/ whisky combination similar to a classy (and cold) Irish coffee. The Florist (£8) is a parma violet gin with notes of rose, lavender and elderflower - just buzzing with floral flavours.
A starter of parfait (£7) was a smooth confection of chicken livers with a hint of port and brandy, with chunks of toasted brioche and a dense dollop of red onion jam. So far, so French. Our other starter was crispy squid (£8) - juicy hunks of fried squid lined up on a finely-chopped slaw of carrot and broccoli with a gathering chilli heat. It’s a winning recipe, for sure.
A main of cod loin (£17) arrived with a sweet carrot and cumin puree, crushed baby potatoes, broccoli and a spice shrimp butter sauce - a satisfying dish. A main of beef fillet (£26) was done sous vide at 52c, resulting in a soft puck of meat surrounded by enticing autumnal flavours of celeriac, horseradish, red wine salsify and with a crisp shard of pancetta on top.
The puds proved to be stars of the show. The Bridge Snowball (£8) was a memorable mix of chestnut mousse, meringue crumble, white chocolate ganache, chocolate sponge and cassis gel. The winter verrine was a densely chocolatey mess of almond crumble, honey and chocolate cream with banana and passion fruit jam.
Elsewhere on the dinner menu, we saw guinea fowl, duck breast, various selections from the grill - all evidence of a food philosophy to showcase the bounty of Britain’s land and seas, the more local the better.
We’ve been impressed by what Flat Cap have done with The Vicarage and The Courthouse, and it looks as if The Bridge makes it three of a kind. The Bridge Hotel, Prestbury, SK10 4DQ. Tel 01625 829 326, thebridgecheshire.com