Cheshire Life Luncheon - Piste Wine Bar & Restaurant, Tarporley

Cheshire Life Luncheon - Piste Wine Bar & Restaurant, Tarporley

Cheshire Life Luncheon - Piste Wine Bar & Restaurant, Tarporley - Credit: Archant

Perfectly chilled champagne was served ahead of a lovely Cheshire Life lunch at Piste, a stylish version of an Alpine ski lodge restaurant

Garden party

Garden party - Credit: Archant

Perhaps it’s because I spent my first months on earth during that cruel, icy, austere winter of 1947 - when snow fell for months and there was no coal for power stations - that something deep in my psyche always steered me towards a Mediterranean beach rather than an Alpine ski slope at holiday time.

Hence I never did ‘break a leg’, as they say, on a downhill run or during a session of après ski in a snug Swiss chalet. But recently I came close to the latter experience...on a sun-soaked day in the decidedly non-Alpine surroundings of the Cheshire Plain.

For Cheshire Life’s August luncheon was hosted by Piste Wine Bar and Restaurant in the centre of picturesque Tarporley, a venue purposely modelled on an Alpine lodge complete with wall-mounted antique skis, antlers and stags heads and lots of wood ballustrading on the upper floor.

The venture, run by brothers-in-law James Hughes and Paul Bebe, opened its doors in September 2010, the former an ex-law student who decided it was the hospitality industry that really inspired him; the latter finding his passion for cooking at the age of 16 and developing his love for fresh quality ingredients ever since, both locally and in Covent Garden. The interior design was co-ordinated by Paul’s wife and James’ sister Lucie, with an emphasis on the ski-enthusiast family’s love for all things Alpine.

PISTE, Tarporley

PISTE, Tarporley - Credit: Archant

Guests gathered in Piste’s rear courtyard garden for canapés of melon and Parma ham and smoked mackerel cornets served with Laurent Perrier Champagne - pure elegance in a glass - before climbing the stairs to the first floor restaurant. The starter suggested Nordic rather than Alpine, but then the Scandinavians are pretty nifty on skis - not least up hill. Thick wedges of home cured salmon gravlax with the scent and flavour of fresh dill came topped with a juicy king prawn wearing a delicate tempura jacket and accompanied by aubergine caviar and sauce vierge; in all an attractive, colourful summer collation. The accompanying wine, supplied by Rodney Densem Wines and described by Steven Percival was a belter - Chateau Lamothe Blanc, the classic white Bordeaux blend of crisp sauvignon blanc and waxy semillon that we’re sorely in need of reminding ourselves about.

The main course brought a generous portion of excellent Welsh lamb rump, cut into thick medallions and encrusted with herbs, served with roasted sweet potato purée, mint pesto, caponata AND mixed bean cassoulet. Though all the components were skilfully prepared, two stews on the same plate - the smoky richness of the Provencal cassoulet and the robust flavours caper-led Sicilian caponata - meant there was a little too much going on. While enthusiasm is always welcome, less is often more. The red wine partner was certainly moreish, Vina Ederra Rioja Crianza - said to be from one of Winston Churchill’s favourite bodegas - was liquid velvet itself.

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Pudding was a treat: lavish wedges of chocolate and caramel tart, generously studded with macadamia nuts was served with silky coconut ice-cream and lashings of chocolate bourbon sauce. California’s Elysium Black Muscat proved itself the very best wine to go with chocolate.

Chef/co-owner, Paul Bebe

Chef/co-owner, Paul Bebe - Credit: Archant

Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu

To start

Home-cured Salmon Gravlax, Tempura King Prawn, Aubergine Caviar, Sauce Vierge

Chateau Lamothe Blanc 2013, Bordeaux, France

To continue

Herb-crusted Rump of Welsh Lamb, Roasted Sweet Potato Purée, Caponata, Mixed Bean Cassoulet, Mint Pesto

Vina Ederra Rioja Crianza 2011, Spain

To finish

Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Caramel Tart, Coconut Ice-cream, Chocolate Bourbon Sauce

Elysium Black Muscat 2011, California, USA

Coffee & Home-made Fudge

Fact file

Piste Wine Bar & Restaurant, 55 High Street, Tarporley, Cheshire CW6 0DP;

Tel: 01829 732483;

Open: Mon-Thu noon-9.30pm; Fri/Sat noon-10pm; Sun noon-3pm.

“Early Herd” Menu: Lunch - once course & a glass of wine £9.95; Mon-Thu noon-9.30pm and Fri/Sat noon-7pm - £13.95 for two courses, £17.95 for three.

A la carte starters from £4.95, mains from £10.95, desserts from £5.50.

Sunday lunch starters from £4.95, mains from £11.95.

Live music Thursday evenings and Sundays.