Doff­ing my cap

The Bridge Ho­tel is pol­ish­ing up its long-held rep­u­ta­tion as a lynch­pin of Prest­bury hos­pi­tal­ity Cheshire Life: Jan­uary 2019

Cheshire Life - - Food & Drink -

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

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