Everyone loves Sticky Walnut. Maybe it's because it's "quirky" (according to the Michelin Guide), maybe it's because of the mass enjoyment available by following chef patron Gary Usher's trials and tribulations on Twitter. Or you know, maybe, just maybe, it's because they're serving up really quite impressive food in a relaxed venue with great service. One thing's for sure, I was really looking forward to finding out the reasons for the love overload as I visited with my wife, her parents and our young daughter on a hot and humid Friday lunch time.
The first mistake of the day was mine; having spent the morning in the historic city of Chester, I looked at the route from the city centre to the restaurant and thought "we can walk this", the "we" including my three year old daughter. After she decided it really wasn't a day for walking, and having carried her over a mile on a horribly humid day on what felt like an entirely uphill road, it's fair to say I now acknowledge the error of my ways. Nonetheless, despite my dishevelled appearance on arrival, we were greeted warmly and shown to our table right next to the kitchen.
The decor is rustic but homely and the service throughout was very good; we were looked after really well by assistant manager Emma (who was soon to move on to sister restaurant Burnt Truffle) and all the other staff were great too. We could see into the kitchen from our table and even the chefs looked happy to be there; it really is quite an uplifting place to spend an afternoon. There's a good range of ales and a none too shabby wine list; we enjoyed a thoroughly decent bottle of Touraine Sauvignon Blanc with our meal.
But the reason we were there of course was to eat. So did the food really justify all the hype? In short, 100% yes yes yes. I started with the sea bream ceviche which was very enjoyable; maybe they'd gone slightly overboard on the citrus juice for my personal taste but it worked. There was nothing to fault with my main course of plaice however; cooked to absolute perfection, delicious. Other courses around the table containing hake, pork shoulder and even octopus were all very much enjoyed. And the kids menu options are good too, my daughter polished off her fish goujons with the kind of happy all encompassing glee only a three year old can display.
For dessert, we'd pre-ordered their £25 chocolate birthday cake to celebrate my daughters recent third birthday. This was presented whole for us to do our little happy birthday rendition before being split into five individual desserts, complete with bonus ice cream. It was divine. There was only one minor problem; I was pretty sure the cake was significantly larger than the sum of the five pieces we'd been given. There was no mention of the rest of the cake on the day and thinking that £5 per dessert was actually very fair, I decided not to mention it. Plus, I was slightly wary of being labelled a "fat knob" on Twitter. As it turned out, a couple of days later my wife received a message asking if we'd like to go and pick up the remainder. Sadly Chester is a bit of a trek for us for half a cake, but still a nice touch and good to know for next time.
And so a hugely enjoyable meal came to an end. It's really difficult to fault Sticky Walnut; the food was great, the service was great and the venue is just right for what's on offer; even bumping my head on a light fixture no manly sized man could ever walk under was memorable. It's just a truly fabulous restaurant all round; that's the reason everyone loves this place. And now, so do I.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||Listed||4|