Take a dream, and make it real

Cheshire Life - - Good Taste - WORDS: Kate Houghton PHO­TOS: John Allen

Fifty years ago, Danny Lees told his mother that one day he’d open the best restau­rant in Cheshire. Now, The Inn at Hux­ley is

el­e­gant des­ti­na­tion din­ing you will want to ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Inn at Hux­ley can be found on the site of a 200 year old pub, The Farm­ers Arms. Once thriv­ing, it even­tu­ally fell into dis­re­pair and de­cay, unloved by the brew­ery that ran it. In 2012, Danny Lees, seeking to make his youth­ful dream come true, dis­cov­ered the site, loved the views, saw its mag­nif­i­cent po­ten­tial and set the wheels in motion that to­day bring us The Inn at Hux­ley, a lux­u­ri­ous, el­e­gantly styled restau­rant that, from the mo­ment you ar­rive in the car park, leaves you in no doubt that you have dis­cov­ered some­where spe­cial.

‘As a teenager I worked at The Mere Golf Club,’ says Danny.

‘To me, in the late 1960s, it rep­re­sented pure lux­ury. I said to my mum: “One day, I’m go­ing to have some­thing as good as this.”’

He went on to es­tab­lish an in­dus­trial doors business, which he sold when he de­cided to re­tire. Should you meet Danny, you’ll know im­me­di­ately that his idea of re­tire­ment doesn’t match most, how­ever. He’s an en­er­gy­filled bun­dle of en­thu­si­asm and drive. He tells a stream of (of­ten ter­ri­ble) jokes, is fas­ci­nated by ev­ery­thing that he sees around him and pretty much can’t stand still. He’s also burst­ing with pride for his restau­rant, and rightly so.

‘In 2012 my daugh­ter Sher­ril and I started talk­ing about at last mak­ing my dream hap­pen. We heard this property was for sale and came to have a look. That trip be­came what we now call a ‘drive buy’. I had hoped to ren­o­vate, but it was in too poor a con­di­tion, so we ended up de­mol­ish­ing the build­ing and start­ing again.’

The at­ten­tion to de­tail in this build is as­ton­ish­ing. From the di­a­mond-cut new York Stone flags in the gar­den, pointed with resin rather than ce­ment (“no weeds will ever get in there”) to the re­fur­bished cast iron pil­lars

in the Orangerie, taken from Al­trin­cham train sta­tion when the tram line was be­ing put in, to the Mouse­man (com­plete with cheeky mice) wooden fur­ni­ture and the glass door pan­els handpainte­d with im­ages taken from old pho­to­graphs of the pub from the 1880’s, this is a truly beau­ti­ful en­deav­our.

‘I am a per­fec­tion­ist. I only work with the very best,’ says Danny. ‘Sher­ril did the in­te­rior de­sign, taking English coun­try house style as her in­spi­ra­tion, even com­mis­sion­ing orig­i­nal art­work from lo­cal artists Lau­ren and Claire, at Lady Longhorn Gallery in Bur­ward­s­ley. The stonework was all done by Gary Bar­ton, from Con­gle­ton. The fur­ni­ture and wood­work is all Mouse­man or Ven­ables Oak.’

Sher­ril adds: ‘The Inn at

Hux­ley is very much a fam­ily con­cern: we’re all in it to­gether. My hus­band, James, is head chef. Both my sis­ters, Hayley and Sarah, work here too and we al­ways say our mum, Deb­o­rah, is the ‘great wo­man’ be­hind our dad – even he ad­mits he couldn’t have achieved what he has with­out her!’

Of course, none of this re­ally mat­ters if the food doesn’t live up to its sur­round­ings – in­clud­ing a kitchen gar­den that would put Titch­marsh’s to shame - but let me as­sure you, it ab­so­lutely does. Again, Danny’s ethos is clear and sim­ple: only the best, from the best, by the best.

‘What we can’t grow our­selves, we buy from Cheshire sup­pli­ers – but only if it’s good enough,’ says Sher­ril. ‘The rest is all sourced from within the UK. Our beef comes from four types of cat­tle: Belted Gal­loway, Aberdeen An­gus, Here­ford and Red Poll, and is hung for five weeks.

Head chef James is joined by Dar­ren and Mike, and by pas­try chef An­drew, who trained at The Grosvenor Ho­tel. They are all clas­si­cally trained, and the menu re­flects this.

I had been ad­vised be­fore I went that the food was fan­tas­tic, with rave reviews of the fish and chips ring­ing in my ears. I was not dis­ap­pointed. A starter of as­para­gus with a crispy egg was just won­der­ful. The Steak Diane, with beef so soft I could have used my but­ter knife, was out­stand­ing. My hus­band chose the beef pie – Danny’s own spe­cial­ity. It was dream­ily good, by all ac­counts, though he wouldn’t share so I wouldn’t know.

The Inn at Hux­ley is a true din­ing discovery, one you will want to re­peat reg­u­larly. Re­lax by the Mouse­man fire­place with a spe­cially brewed house ale, or a sig­na­ture gin and tonic, pe­ruse the menu at leisure and then let the won­der­ful staff look af­ter you for an evening of gas­tro­nomic el­e­gance, in coun­try house style. It’s old Cheshire, re-made.

The Orangerie

Hux­ley, Ch­ester 01829 781 044 thein­nathux­ley.co.uk This pro­mo­tional fea­ture was brought to you by the ed­i­to­rial team at Cheshire Life. If you would like your business to fea­ture in our pages please con­tact Matt Rogers on 01925 969 012.

BELOW FROM LEFT: Ex­pertly mixed cock­tails, Fin­ing din­ing, ev­ery day

ABOVE: The Inn at Hux­ley

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