The lovely Lisette and I had talked about doing something for my birthday rather than a gift and my being in Cheshire with my gammy operated on hand was the perfect opportunity for us to have a girly lunch and spend some time together just the two of us.
The Sticky Walnut has been raved about by my friends and family in the area and was the 2014 AA restaurant of the year. It has been at the top of my Chester to do list for some time. It is the work of chef Gary Usher who also opened a sister restaurant the Burnt Truffle in Heswall last year and is looking to open a third in Chorlton, Manchester both with the help of Kickstarter. He sure is doing well!
The Sticky Walnut isn’t in Chester city centre, it’s in Hoole, somewhere that I haven’t walked around in years. We had picked a particularly sunny day for it and once we managed to find somewhere to park the car (Liz was driving as she is in the condition that makes you the designated driver for 9 months) we wandered back to the restaurant. Hoole is lovely these days, beautiful little streets and packed with little independent shops, bars and restaurants. Just the place to live for 30 somethings with some money. There was a hip little barber shop playing some great tunes like a nightclub and several gorgeous looking wine bars across the road that we mentioned we should return to try when Liz can drink (we normally always go in to the city).
The Sticky Walnut itself if a little place, only a few tables on the ground floor which would have been a better, more atmospheric place to sit but we were seated upstairs. Which was still lovely but a less of an atmosphere. Great for having a chat tho. I remember someone once saying that they put the beautiful people on view in restaurant windows to entice passing trade, maybe those days are now gone for Liz and I, now in our mid 30s and we get banished to the top floor out of sight. I still think we are hot Liz!
The decor was nice and modern with a slight rustic feel, although Liz commented on how the artex ceiling reminded her of her nan’s house. We sat down and had a look at the menu. As we were here for lunch it was incredibly reasonably priced. £16 for 2 courses, £21 for 3 and £3 for extra sides. The menu had 5 or 6 choices for each course, what you would expect for a fine dining place of this size and sounded amazing.
Liz said the chairs were a little hard, I didn’t notice. We both agreed the loos could have done with a bit of a refurb, there’s looking rustic and then theres looking a bit unkempt. But really this is us being incredibly picky.
I was really pleased that Liz was happy with the options as she is almost a vegetarian. She will occasionally have chicken but thats about it as meat turns her stomach a lot of the time and I can often feel like she is putting on a smile at a menu when looking at the veggie choices. She seemed very happy. The waitress arrived and asked if we wanted some water for the table which we got and then returned to ask if we wanted more exciting drinks. I had toyed with not drinking in solidarity with Liz but she encouraged my getting a cocktail. Sadly there was pretty much no non-alcoholic stuff on the drinks menu but the waitress suggested a putting together an apple and ginger mocktail for Liz and we were sorted. I ordered a Pomegranate and Shiso Mojito (£7). The waitress was very friendly and helpful, great service so far.
We ordered our starters and mains and our drinks arrived shortly after. They were both light and fresh and summery, perfect for this hot sunny day. My mojito was pink and sweet and incredibly yummy. It went down very easily. Our starters arrived very quickly after. This was brilliant quick service, but I would have liked to have had my cocktail as a pre-dinner drink (as it is described on the menu) and had some thing less sweet with my starter. Basically wine.
Liz had ordered the roasted butternut squash, buffalo mozzarella, parsley and chervil pesto and roast hazelnuts. It looked lovely and she thoroughly enjoyed it and was still talking about it on the way home. She thought the hazelnuts went brilliantly with the soft creamy cheese and the squash was gorgeous. She did think that it was a little big for a starter. Especially as she also had quite a carby main.
I ordered the asparagus, cold smoked mackerel, poached egg and hazelnuts. It was beautifully presented and looked bright and vibrant on the plate. There was a green foam that tasted more like pea than asparagus but maybe I was wrong, light, sweet, creamy, hint of mint I think and tasty. The hazelnuts were dusted over the entire dish. The mackerel was the consistency of a good smoked salmon and was a beautiful light fish flavour that went beautifully with the other flavours on the plate. The poached egg was just perfect. The entire plate was delicious and again really fitting with the fresh sunny spring day we were having.
Our mains followed quickly after and before I had had chance to order some wine. I quickly requested a small glass of red as the plates hit the table. Liz again went for the vegetarian option, wild garlic tagliatelle, asparagus and fresh peas. She said it was bright and fresh and also talked about spring. Not many different flavours but just up her street. She reported “possibly a little oily for her but very tasty”.
I had the Guinea Fowl, spring onions, hen of woods mushrooms and black pudding. It was amazing. The while lot. Totally scoffed. Perfectly seasoned and amazing. The meat was beautifully cooked. There was just the right amount of black pudding which was lovely and crisp on the outside. It looked amazing with these shards of seeded parmesan (again I think) crisps. The jus the meat was placed on was gorgeous and I eagerly scraped at it with some of the truffle chips we had ordered as a side to make sure I got all of it. I wanted to lick the plate. Really really good.
As I mentioned we ordered some truffle and parmesan chips as a side. We probably didn’t need them but they were as Liz called them “fit.” Totally moreish, soft and silky potato on the inside. Just the right amount of salt. So tasty.
And then there were puddings! We decided to get two and share and we whittled it down to the sticky toffee pudding and the cheesecake.
The sticky toffee pudding, butterscotch and yogurt sorbet looked pretty standard on the plate. It was made interesting by the yummy slightly tart yogurt sorbet. The pudding itself was sweet and the right amount of heavy and lovely and warm. A little wintery compared to the other dishes but never the less really good.
The mango cheesecake with pineapple and mango salsa and elderflower granita (an extra £1) looked fantastic on the plate. It was a deconstructed cheesecake. Liz mentioned that her fiancé would have been disappointed as it wasn’t actually a cheesecake (he isn’t into this kind of stuff) but we both loved how it looked. It was a work of art. The delicious and incredibly light creamy mango mousse with gingerbread shards. Dressed with a mango and pineapple salsa with a hint of chilli and garnished with coriander. The granita was very sweet and added an extra temperature and texture. A real dessert experience. Amazing.
The “cheesecake” fitted with the light, fresh spring feel to the meal but the sticky toffee pudding was heavy and satisfying and made you feel like you had had a proper naughty indulgent pudding. Great contrast.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our meal and we left very happy. We went off to spend some more quality time together lounging in the afternoon sun. The food was excellent and the service was top notch. Really happy. I went back to my parents house later that day and mentioned how we have to go for a night out in Hoole starting with a trip back to the Sticky Walnut!
Foodie x x
Thanks for reading!
Feel free to follow me on twitter: @_foodie_uk, Facebook: facebook.com/UKFoodie or on Instagram via the link below