Happy birthday JB
It was JB's birthday last weekend and what better way to celebrate than with good food in lovely surroundings? We spent the night at Shrigley Hall in Macclesfield. The hotel had amazing grounds with a long winding driveway leading up to a wonderfully pillared entrance. It was definitely the sort of place that had me letting out a nervous giggle thinking I need to be less of a clumsy liability than I usually am... luckily the staff were lovely and the conservatory/bar had such a lovely homely feel to it that I soon felt at ease.
It being a treat weekend and all we opted for the whole 3 course shebang in The Oakridge restaurant! I definitely held back a little at lunch knowing that was my intention, although knowing the portion sizes I probably wouldn't have bothered with the restraint. Let's just say I'm glad I ordered all 3 courses.
Over the past few years I have come to realise that I'm actually quite a fussy eater. It doesn't usually interfere with meals or eating out unless there's cheese involved throughout... I think I've made my feelings about cheese quite clear. With this in mind I'm always a bit nervous when first seeing a menu. Once I discounted the cheesey things I still had a choice which was lovely.
For starters I went for the chicken and garlic terrine. It had lovely chunks of chicken that looked like they had been hand shredded rather than chopped so they varied in size. It held it's shape well but it wasn't gelatinous and it was well chilled and had a lovely sweet and sharp chutney that cut through the richness. The stand out flavour on the whole dish for me though was the truffle mayo... OH MY it was beautiful, tiny little pea sized blobs of awesomeness. The only thing that stopped me licking the plate was knowing it would have been frowned upon. You can lock me in a room full of that mayo anytime you want.
JB opted for the goats cheese tart. The presentation of the dish as with my own was beautiful! Clearly I wasn't going anywhere near that so these are all his opinions, I did however immediately notice the difference in sizes between mine and his and begrudgingly offer him some of mine (his birthday weekend and all that rubbish). Portion size aside he thought the tangy and creamy notes of the cheese were well balanced with the jam that was quite sharp on its own because of the blackberries but worked perfectly when combined.
Moving on to the mains... I am and will hopefully always be a seafood lover. I will quite easily choose a great piece of fish over meat any day of the week. On seeing there was sea bass on the menu, my decision was made although there were some fantastic offerings.
When my dish came, as with the starters it looked lovely. I did however notice that although my fillet was perfectly cooked, the skin on my sea bass wasn't crispy so I left that. The dish itself though was well balanced and full of flavour. The potatoes were well cooked, the samphire added a lovely earthy flavour and the sauce was clear and had lovely underlying flavours of lemon. The only thing missing was a bit of colour so I swiped what would have been the uneaten tomato from JB's main and all was right.
As JB doesn't feel a meal is complete without meat he ordered the steak and had it rare. Did I get food envy? Massively. His steak was perfectly cooked and well rested as it wasn't bleeding onto his plate. It was a beautiful cut of meat (as it should be for an £8.95 supplement) it was tender and melt in the mouth. I definitely used the words "I need to try it so I can write about it" to get more than one bite and I'm not even the littlest bit sorry. It WAS really good though. It came with some chunky chips that were crisp on the outside but lovely and fluffy on the inside. Grilled tomato and lovely, butter sautéed wild mushrooms. It was clean plates all round.
Last but not least the desserts. My favourite course of any meal. I ordered the panna cotta and JB went for the chocolate tart.
When the desserts came out I dug straight in then actually looked at it. Instead of the panna cotta they'd brought me out a cheesecake. If you had asked me before that Friday night if I liked baked cheesecake my answer would have been a blanket NO followed by, "it has a weird texture" oh my word was I proved wrong on this occasion. It was light and creamy and smooth. I was in shock, so much so I had to ask the waiter 3 times if it was chilled before believing him. BEST baked cheesecake I have ever tasted.
When I mentioned the confusion with desserts though they swapped it for me straight away and made no mention of the bite I'd taken. My panna cotta came and I wasn't disappointed. It had a lovely wobble and a creamy, smooth texture with a gentle hint of vanilla. It was served with some quite tart mixed berries and a very sharp lemon sorbet. The panna cotta with the berries worked wonderfully together. The sorbet was lip smackingly tart bit it worked well as a palate cleanser.
The chocolate tart looked very dense as it came out, and it was. I doubt anyone could eat more than a sliver due to the wonderfully rich taste and texture. The base was lovely and short without being overly crumbly. It was served with a honeycomb ice cream and a toffee sauce. The ice-cream was delicious. It had loads of lovely chunks of chewy honeycomb in it. It was very sweet but when paired with the bitter chocolate of the tart was again a wonderfully balanced combination. The desserts did not disappoint and they were a wonderful way to finish a near perfect dining experience. Do not go expecting vast portions but do go expecting great food, good ambience and lovely hospitality.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. Would I revisit The Oakridge at Shrigley Hall? Any time.