Belle Epoque, Knutsford, Cheshire
Posted 10 April 2012 - 02:23 PM
The menu certainly nods in the direction of France even if for some of the dishes this is in name only. And there’s also bog standard Brit affairs as in a rack of lamb which comes from a flock raised just round the corner at Tabley Hall. Perhaps oddly, saddle of lamb doesn’t come from there and is sourced from the Lune Valley in Lancashire.
Rabbit terrine was actually rabbit rillette. It was OK and might have been excellent if it wasn’t fridge cold. “Health and safety” means they have to keep at 3 degrees. Or so the chef says. A slice toasted sourdough and a little heap of well dressed lambs lettuce were decent accompaniments. Scallops were more than a tad overdone. Accompaniments here were quite well thought through – chorizo dice were crispy and nicely poky and porky; there was another dice of sweet carrot with peas adding to the sweetness, and a drizzle of hollandaise to bring it together.
Now, if we thought the starters had been a bit mediocre, then the mains took a dive. Seabass managed to be both overcooked and still retain a flabby skin. It was topped with what was described as a potato gallette but which was, in fact, a few thin slices of slightly underdone spud. There was an aubergine caviar which was fine. And some sunblush tomatoes which are always pleasant enough when we buy them at Sainsburys and were pleasant enough with the fish. A little beurre blanc dressed the plate.
My own main was not so much the dog’s danglies as the dog’s breakfast. At least it had a French name – poulet sauté au Belle Epoque. A signature dish presumably. Anyway, what I got was a generous serving of chicken thighs (although the lack of crispy skin was a let down), together with a scattering of Parmentier potatoes, mushrooms, Savoy cabbage, Roquefort cheese and a tomatoey sauce. The plate looked awful with items seemingly just chucked on there. Mercifully it tasted better than it looked.
Which is more than can be said for my dessert. I like Tarte Tatin. I like the crisp pastry. I like the caramelised apples. You know it’s going to be good even before you taste it. And vice versa. So, when you see undercooked pastry and pale slices of apple, you know you’re not in for a treat. And I wasn’t.
On the other side of the table, crème brulee was going down a treat. Until the hair appeared on a spoonful. That was enough. We told the server. “Sorry about that. Wasnt one of mine was it?” was the reply. Time to get the bill.
Posted 11 April 2012 - 08:18 AM
Back then, even though we used to go to Knutsford four or five times a year, the only place we liked for a fun type of meal was the old Est, Est ,Est (now Gusto).
Its certainly not short on choice of restaurants of all types, just nothing seems to jump out
Perhaps a better choice next time John may be the Loch Fyne restaurant? We have looked in a few times but not been hungry enough to try it out.
Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:21 AM
FWIW, I quite like Loch Fyne - they used to have one nearish to us in Didsbury but it's now closed.
It is, as Oli suggests, a bit piss poor that the best you can get in a town with money is a chain Italian.