2017 Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards - the shortlists

2017 Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards

2017 Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards - Credit: Archant

The judges of Cheshire Life’s Food & Drink Awards unveil their shortlist for this year’s event, with the winners to be declared at a glamorous black tie ceremony at Carden Park Hotel on July 10th.

Cheshire Life’s Food & Drink Awards are a firm fixture in the foodie calendar. When we serve up our plaudits, the county’s chefs, hoteliers, pub landlords and food entrepreneurs want to be on the receiving end.

Make no mistake, the competition is tough. The hospitality sector has never been more important either to the economy of this nation, or to our enjoyment of life, and that is reflected in the huge range of restaurants and food businesses right here in Cheshire. Our ever more educated palates mean we seek out and expect the very best, be it the seared duck liver on the menu of a fine dining restaurant or the pint of craft ale poured in a pub just a few yards from where that ale was brewed.

When the great and good gather at Carden Park on Monday July 10th for a black tie dinner, there will be winners declared. Every one of the restaurants, pubs and producers mentioned here is head and shoulders above the rest, and worthy of your custom. The main sponsor of the event is the Gourmet Guide. To read more about them, and other supporters please see the Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards website.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here are the shortlisters for Cheshire Life’s Food & Drink Awards 2017. Buy your tickets here.


Brasserie Blanc, Knutsford @BBKnutsford ‏

The aim was to make this as ‘warm and welcoming as Maman Blanc’s home’. Raymond Blanc has managed that with the new Brasserie Blanc in the characterful Royal George building in Knutsford. The fare is French classics and more, plus a very affordable set menu at £11.95 for two courses. Stand-out dishes include potted Cromer crab, a punchy cheese soufflé and boeuf bourguignon. Regent Street, WA16 6GR, tel 01565 622 900, brasserieblanc.com

The Lime Tree, Bollington @thelimetreeres

The Lime Tree in Didsbury - 30 years and counting - pioneered modern British, and its Bollington incarnation has been making residents of Happy Valley that bit happier for five years now with a farm-to-fork ethos (the Lime Tree’s chef-owner Patrick Hannity bought a farm in the Macclesfield Forest in 2008) and a bistro atmosphere which also celebrates Bollington’s mill town roots. High Street, Bollington SK10 5PH, 01625 578182, www.limetreebollington.co.uk

Piste, Sandbach @PisteSandbach

The restaurant with the Swiss-tinged ambience is a big success in Tarporley, so up popped one in the burgeoning foodie scene of Sandbach. Toboggans on the wall, ski racks and ornaments made out of antlers create an Alpine experience. If you want the ideal food to match, the cheese fondue is superb, but if you want to venture, off-piste, the seven-hour braised shin of beef is gorgeous. Piste Bar and Restaurant, 45 High Street, Sandbach CW11 1AL, 01270 768923, www.pistesandbach.com

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Church Inn, Mobberley @Churchinnmobb

Re-opened in 2013 after being bought in a near-derelict state by Tim Bird and Mary McLaughlin of Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars, this is a real country pub, with private rooms for dining and a boot room to woo muddy walkers. The Church Inn carries on its 300-year-old reputation for hospitality so well that it was declared UK pub of the year in the 2016 National Pub and Bar Awards. Church Lane, Mobberley, WA16 7RD, tel 01565 873178, churchinnmobberley.co.uk

Cholmondeley Arms, near Malpas @CholmArms

Another gem from Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars, the Cholmondeley Arms occupies a former Victorian schoolhouse on Lord Cholmondeley’s estate, retaining some original features but with characterful decor added. It makes a virtue of food being locally-sourced, and also its ales, drawn from within a 30-mile radius.Gin-lovers are spoilt...they have 367 of them! Wrenbury Road, SY14 8HN, 01829 720300, cholmondeleyarms.co.uk

The Wheatsheaf, Sandbach @wheatsheafsand1

The big Victorian coaching inn in the heart of Sandbach underwent a £500,000 refurbishment at the hands of the Pear family of Pecks of Congleton fame. The result is a welcoming yet vogueish eatery serving a hearty menu in the modern British style - think ham and egg, potted shrimps, lamb hotpot, bangers and mash and an epic beef and mushroom pie using Cheshire Wagyu beef. 1 Hightown, Sandbach CW11 1AG, 01270 762013, www.wheatsheafsandbach.co.uk


The Easy Fish Co, Stockport @TheEasyFishCo

They operate from a state-of-the-art shop in Heaton Moor, Stockport, and their displays of fish and seafood could also be described as art. The family-run Easy Fish Company goes back four generations and 120 years, to the old Smithfield Market in what is now known as the Northern Quarter of Manchester. Not just a fishmonger, the firm operates a fish restaurant offering a huge variety. 117 Heaton Moor Road, Heaton Moor SK4 4HY, tel 0161 442 0823, theeasyfishco.com

Claremont Farm, Wirral @ClaremontFarm

A champion of local produce through its farm shop, butcher’s counter and cafe. It is continuing a long tradition, as the Pimbley family has been selling fruit and veg on the Wirral since 1906, pioneering concepts such as pick-your-own, using the business for education of youngsters and expanding the farm shop’s appeal with a cookery school and food and drink festival. Old Clatterbridge Rd, Bebington CH63 4JB, tel 0151 334 1906, www.claremontfarm.co.uk

Grantham’s Fine Food and Wine, Alderley Edge @GranthamsDeli

This is a firm which does exactly what its name promises. Grantham’s stocks 150 British and European cheeses - many from small artisan producers - a rich selection of charcuterie, the best dry-cured bacon, fine wines and beers, local breads, Greek delicatessen products and, if you want all these goodies together, super hampers. 68 Heyes Lane, Alderley Edge SK9 7HY, 01625 583286, www.granthamsfinefood.com


Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias @BrynPorthEirias

Bryn Williams is from Denbigh and went on to work in London with the likes of Marco Pierre White at The Criterion and Michel Roux at Le Gavroche. He became chef-patron of Odette’s in Primrose Hill in 2008, and returned to his roots to open his eponymous beachfront restaurant, café and bar at Porth Eirias, serving Welsh produce in bistro-style dishes. The Promenade, Colwyn Bay, tel 01492 577 525, www.portheirias.com

Palé Hall, Bala @palehallhotel

Built for railway engineer and industrialist Henry Robertson in 1869, Palé Hall is a grand house in ‘eclectic Jacobean’ style in a spectacular setting in the Dee valley near Bala. Given a new lease of life by telecoms entrepreneur Alan Harper and wife Angela, and a menu courtesy of Michelin-starred Michael Caines, Palé Hall is now a country house hotel with real allure for the foodie. Llandderfel, Bala, Gwynedd, LL23 7PS, 01678 530 285, www.palehall.co.uk

Dylan’s, Criccieth @DylansPizzeria

The success of Dylan’s has been nothing short of phenomenal. The first restaurant in Menai Bridge, opened in 2012, championing local produce, particularly the bounty of the seas. It was such a huge word-of-mouth success that this second followed in 2015. A third has just opened in Llandudno. The Criccieth restaurant occupies a grade II listed art deco building designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. Maes y Mor, LL52 0HU, tel 01766 522773, www.dylansrestaurant.co.uk


The Little Tea House, Parkgate @little_teahouse

Here is a pretty setting: a picturesque black and white building overlooking marshland which was once the beach of Parkgate. Cakes are made daily on the premises and there are superior sandwiches, soup, light bites and salads. There’s a vintage feel here, harking back to the days when Parkgate was, in every sense, a seaside resort. South Cottage, The Parade, CH64 6SA, tel 0151 538 7934, www.thelittleteahouseparkgate.com

Libby’s Bread and Wine, Marple Bridge @LibbysBreadWine

A very French concept - a bakery, coffee shop and restaurant all rolled into one. Opening at 7am to sell pastries, cakes and bread, Libby’s serves breakfast from 8am, then lunch until 3pm and coffee and cakes until 5pm. At 5.30, Wednesday to Saturday, it’s time for another shift to start, serving small plates, pizzas, wines and cocktails.That’s a busy day. Town Street, SK6 5AA, 0161 427 2310, www.libbysbreadandwine.com

Gardener’s Cottage Tearoom, Tatton Park @tatton_park ‏

As if one needed a good reason to visit Tatton Park, there is now a tearoom fit for a Queen. The former head gardener’s cottage, just inside the Stableyard, serves breakfast, lunch, sandwiches and that most English of indulgences, afternoon tea from 2pm. With its stunning setting, views of the orchard and walled garden, this is a popular spot. Tatton Park, Knutsford, WA16 6QN, tel 01625 374467, www.tattonpark.org.uk


Grand Pacific, Manchester @GrandPacificMCR

One of Manchester’s most impressive spaces, the former Reform Club, has seen several restaurant-related incarnations over the years. The latest, Grand Pacific, comes courtesy of the very astute Living Ventures and has a bar inspired by Raffles Hotel in Singapore and a dining room serving a pan-Asian menu which Grand Pacific describes as ‘a mesmeric voyage of tastes from distant shores’. 50 Spring Gardens, Manchester, M2 1EN, tel 0161 839 9365, grandpacific.uk.com

Grafene, Manchester @grafeneMCR

More evidence of the resurgence of what was once the banking area of the city, around King Street, Grafene in Chapel Walks is a (deliberately misspelt) tribute to the wonder material invented in Manchester and a new lease of life for premises once Raymond Blanc’s Le Petit Blanc. Intriguing decor - brick tiling, aeroplane fuselage-style metal - and a confident modern British menu from head chef Darren Goodwin. 55 King Street, M2 4LQ, 0161 696 9700, www.grafene.co.uk

Asha’s, Manchester @AshasManchester

Immortalised in Cornershop’s 1998 hit Brimful of Asha, Asha Bhosle is not just a famous Bollywood actress but also a great cook, as proved by the success of what is now a string of restaurants (Birmingham, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Kuwait) plus this exotic £2m gourmet palace in a grade II listed building near the Midland Hotel . This is 21st century Indian cuisine, beloved of the city’s beautiful people. 47 Peter Street, M2 3NG, tel 0161 832 5309 , www.ashasrestaurant.co.uk


Joseph Heler, Cheshire Cheese @JosephHeler

Joseph Heler’s grandmother started cheese-making at Laurels Farm over a century ago. The tradition led to the formation of Joseph Heler Cheese in 1957, and another two generations have since joined the business. They now have Orsom, a new range of cheeses. We particularly like their Cheshire Cheese. Joseph Heler Cheese, Laurels Farm, Crewe Road, Nantwich CW5 7PE, tel 01270 841500, www.joseph-heler.co.uk

Great North Pie Company, corned beef brisket and potato pie @GreatNorthPieCo

Neil Broomfield worked in Michelin-starred kitchens, so when he turned to pie-making, these were bound to be a cut above. And so it proved, building a following through farmers’ markets to become a premier pie company.The shortlisting is for their slow-cooked salt beef brisket pie, made with Cheshire potatoes. 2A Deanway, SK9 3HW, tel 01625 522 112, greatnorthpie.co

Buttertons, rhubarb and ginger ice cream

Robert and Helen Aspden began farming at Buttertons Lane Farm in 1986, introducing Brown Swiss cows to the herd in 1992. These cows yield the milk for the ice cream business which began in 2008. The list of flavours continues to expand, top restaurants are among their customers, and we have shortlisted their rhubarb and ginger ice cream. Buttertons Lane Farm, Haslington, CW1 5UT. tel 01270 873252, www.buttertons.co.uk


Picanha by Fazenda, Chester @picanhauk

Picanha is named after what, in Brazil, would be the most succulent cut of meat. And Picanha, like its Fazenda sister restaurants in Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester, is a meat-lover’s paradise, with continuous service of ten cuts of meat, carved at your table. It’s called ‘rodizio dining’. Vegetarians are also catered for with a very impressive salad bar. 27 Newgate St ,CH1 1DQ, 01244 311839, picanhagrill.co.uk

Where The Light Gets In, Stockport @wtlgi

Cheshire Life’s review described it as ‘one of the most memorable dining experiences’. Diners witness food preparation as an intrinsic part of the meal. No menu - just a succession of courses made up of the day’s best ingredients: raw ox heart with quince, raw beet and hazelnut curd, elderberries in onion broth...whatever fires head chef Sam Buckley. 7 Rostron Brow, SK1 7JY, tel 0161 477 5744 wtlgi.co

Opera Grill, Chester @Opera_Grill

Behind the grand entrance to this former Methodist chapel, a slick restaurant has taken shape - a £3m investment by Individual Restaurants. There is a huge central bar, orange leather seating in banquettes and booths, marble table tops, exposed brickwork and distressed plaster. The menu is eclectic, and many ingredients are on show behind shop-style counters. 3, Pepper Street, CH1 1DF, tel 01244 343 888, www.individualrestaurants.com


The Fishpool Inn, Delamere @TheFishpoolInn

This 18th century building underwent a multi-million renovation four years ago. The decor celebrates Cheshire culture - horsey accoutrements, fishing rods and reels - and, what with barrel-style stools and acres of exposed woodwork, creates a rustic homely vibe in which to enjoy cask ales, hearty pies or authentic Italian pizzas. Huge gardens make the Fishpool particularly child-friendly. Fishpool Road, CW8 2HP, tel 01606 883277, thefishpoolinn.co.uk

Viking Pub and Bakehouse, West Kirby @TheVikingWK

Inspired by Wirral’s Viking heritage, the Viking dishes up comfort food: roast pork belly, buttermilk pancakes, bangers and mash and more, including an encouragement to indulge in a little ‘fika’ - a Scandinavian expression for coffee with friends, which inevitably leads to cake. Part of the Flying Pig & Lobster group, whose team includes Simon Rimmer. Black Horse Hill, CH48 6DS tel 0151 601 1888, www.thevikingpub.co.uk

Red Lion, Pickmere @broadoakred

A lovely country pub with roaring fires for winter and a large garden, plus children’s playground, to enjoy in summer. The menu features evergreen pub grub favourites, such as paté, garlic mushrooms, ploughman’s platter, beef and ale pie, sausage and mash, and there are daily specials on the board. Vegetarians also well catered for, and there’s even a vegan ‘fish’ and chips, using tofu. Park Lane, WA16 0JX tel 01565 733247, theredlionpickmere.co.uk

The following will be announced on the night





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