Alderley Edge is one of those places that's always held a certain magical attraction to me. When I was a child, I visited as part of an Alan Garner themed school trip and loved the place such was it charm. Nowadays it seems more of a haven for expensive cars and rich footballers, but nonetheless it's a beautiful part of the world I take delight in visiting.
Enjoying an enviable position overlooking the village, the Alderley Edge Hotel houses a dining room which is "considered by many to be one of the finest restaurants in Cheshire". Well, at least that's what it says on their website. In fairness, the AA Guide also agrees.
Our family visit took place on a Thursday lunchtime, taking my wife and young daughter. The initial welcome at reception was warm but the waiter who dealt with us was not. Whilst I'd made it clear when booking that we were bringing our two year old daughter and this was not an issue whatsoever, his personal view was clearly (despite a rather feeble attempt to mask it) that children should not be allowed in his precious dining room. Waiters like that really do annoy me, if you don't like the policy, please go work somewhere else. The other staff however were much more suited to a career in service, so I think we were just unlucky with our initial waiter allocation.
Having only been offered the lunch menu (no mention of the carte) we made our way to the dining room. It's a classic space but nicely finished, I liked the room. It became apparent very early on though that young families are not the target market here; we were the youngest people in the restaurant by some considerable distance. Knowing your market is important and clearly they've got it right as the place was full, for lunch, on a Thursday.
You can probably see the issue that's coming. Is a place full of pensioners going to be serving modern exciting food? Not if they want to stay open they ain't. I had the truffle sausage to start and the plaice for main, both dishes were well cooked but dull, dull and dull. Considering the awards this restaurant has won I was expecting a little bit of spark, a little bit of va va voom somewhere just to keep me interested, but there was nothing.
It was around this time that our favourite waiter returned. Our daughter had been very well behaved and wasn't bothering any other guests, but had got down from her chair to have a little look out of large windows right next to our table. Quick as a flash, he was back, "Shall I bring the high chair?" he said in a noticeably forceful way. Absolutely ridiculous behaviour.
Dessert of apricot souffle was a little bit more interesting as was my wife's Bailey's parfait; again well executed dishes but as previously I would have expected more pizazz from a restaurant of this level. It's not just the flavours that lack punch, the visual refinement is also a little behind other restaurants of a similar calibre we've experienced.
But look, this restaurant clearly knows it's ideal customer and that isn't me, so I can't really complain too much about being less than blown away with the food. The chef can cook well and aside from one ridiculous waiter, our overall visit was enjoyable.
|Ratings||Michelin Guide||AA Guide||Good Food Guide|
|At time of review||Listed||3|