Cheshire Life Ladies Luncheon - The Mere Golf Resort and Spa, Knutsford

A multi-million pound facelift at The Mere has made it one of the region's 'must visit' destinations. WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

Fact file

The Mere Golf Resort and Spa, Chester Road, Mere, Knutsford, WA16 6LJ.Tel: 01565

Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu

To startSmoked salmon, a rilette of salmon, toasted soda bread, horseradish cr�me fraiche and Wirral watercress

To continueMoorland lamb, roasted loin and a fricassee of shoulder with baby gem, mint and peas and redcurrant infused port sauce

To finishWhite chocolate and strawberries

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Lance and Margaret Jobling never served unadventurous children’s meals to their son, Paul. He tucked into everything from rabbit to venison while growing up in the North East. It was his parents’ encouragement to try new and different things that sparked his passion for food.

When he left school, unsure of what to do, his dad got him a job in a restaurant. Paul has never looked back. He moved to the North West over 20 years ago and has worked at reputed venues including Manchester’s Lowry Hotel and Shrigley Hall, where he took up his first head chef post.

But it was four years ago, full of excitement for a pending �15 million redevelopment that has now been completed, that Paul took up his role as executive head chef at The Mere Golf Resort and Spa, just outside Knutsford. Since then and the reopening of this new contemporary venue, he has worked with local producers to create a fantastic menu to showcase his talent and flair and the best of Cheshire.

The 42-year-old has the same commitment shown by the people, including owner Mark Boler, which helped transform this landmark Cheshire hotel. This was clear to see for the diners at this special Cheshire Life Ladies’ Luncheon.

The guests gazed in admiration at the work of Wilmslow interior designers Mather & Co, whose expert skills were also used at prestigious venues across the country including Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, Manchester’s National Football Museum and The Studio at The Lowry. The sleek, modern, contemporary design of Browns at The Mere restuarant, it seemed, was much preferred to its former traditional design by many of the guests.

With such a good first impression, you might think the pressure would be on Paul and his kitchen team. Not a bit of it. Their skills more than measured up to the sumptuous surroundings.

Proceedings began with a flourish with canap�s of beef Yorkshire pudding, horseradish cr�me fraiche and watercress, goats’ cheese mousse and basil and salmon and crayfish blinis.

Starters were smoked salmon served with a rilette of salmon, toasted soda bread, horseradish cr�me fraiche and Wirral watercress from Peter Jackson’s Childer Thornton farm were expertly executed. This delicate dish was perfectly paired with a 2010 Macon Peronne Domaine du Bicheron from Gerrard Seel, who provided all the wines.

The main event provided an English seasonal classic with a sumptuous duo of moorland lamb, expertly roasted loin and a fricassee of shoulder with baby gem, mint and peas and a lovely redcurrant infused port sauce. A 2009 Rioja Sierra Cantabria, from Spanish vineyards located almost 2,000 feet above sea level, was the perfect companion.

Paul’s dessert did not disappoint either. It might have been tempting to serve a simple crowd pleaser for his all female audience. But the chef provided an ample portioned scoop of smooth white chocolate, with a sorbet textured wheel of intense strawberry flavour, fresh strawberries and a helping of cream. It quite rightly had many diners extolling its virtues.