Cheshire Life Luncheon - The Alderley Edge Hotel

The Alderley Edge Hotel does it again. A talented chef and kitchen staff, plus a perfect front of house operation meant that guests at this Cheshire Life luncheon were treated to an exceptional dining experience

When the Alderley Restaurant was awarded its third Rosette a year ago, the AA’s Fiovanna Rossi said the accolade, for ‘exceptional standards of cuisine’, meant recognition of standards worthy of respect from well beyond the local area. Now, deservedly, the head chef who steered the restaurant to such heights through skills providing exacting technique, balance and depth of flavour, flair and imagination in every dish, is also enjoying wider appreciation.

Chris Holland has become a member of training company Visionary Dining’s ‘Great 8’ – a group of the country’s most talented chefs including Michelin-starred Michael Wignall and Simon Rogan, 4-AA Rosette-rated Rupert Rowley and Aiden Byrne, who has three. They have begun a 16-month tour of England from London to Cumbria during which, every two months, the octet will team up to produce a glamorous eight-course tasting menu in each other’s restaurants. Their uber-gastronomic roadshow, in aid of the industry charity Hospitality Action, arrives at the Alderley Edge Hotel on January 30th next year when Chris will command the fish and seafood course.

It goes without saying that devotees of the Alderley Restaurant have known about Chris’s talent for some time. Despite his tender age he has worked in the hotel’s kitchen for 13 years and was appointed head chef in 2006, constantly raising the bar for fine food menus with signature dishes that take traditional classics and give them a modern, innovative twist.

So it was with a keen sense of anticipation that guests at Cheshire Life’s November luncheon gathered in the hotel’s welcoming lounge bar to be greeted with flutes of elegant Quartet sparkling wine from Louis Roederer’s Anderson Valley Estate in California. The superbly crafted canap�s – scallop tartare with grapefruit, smoked salmon on cucumber, brown shrimp and trout fritters and Parmesan sabl� - heightened the appetite for what was to come.

With guests seated in the Alderley Restaurant’s light and airy conservatory with views across the Cheshire plain, the starter proper provided a delightful cameo of Chris Holland’s philosophy.

The breast of pigeon, sourced from Dunham Massey, satisfied his enthusiasm for local ingredients. Indeed all the key suppliers of the day were credited: M&J Seafood, Wellocks and Frost’s Butchers, whence came Lee Frost, amongst the guests.

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The pigeon was perfectly cooked by the chef’s signature sous-vide water bath technique, preserving excellent texture and lovely gamey flavour. Presentation, with autumnal smoked parsnip pur�e and a smear of vibrant elderberry fruit looked a picture and the ripe, soft fruit of the accompanying wine, Louis Latour Cote de Beaune Villages 2007, chosen from the Alderley’s legendary cellar, was perfect.

As for the main course, I confess I have a (sort of) vested interest. I have family ties in the south west and lemon sole, otherwise known as Torbay sole, has been my favourite fish for longer than I care to remember. And here it was, in the accomplished hands of Chris Holland – an absolutely delicious, creamy textured, delicately flavoured fillet, served brilliantly on a bed of wilted spinach with firm, sweet langoustine, roasted avocado and corn and of course, lemon. Another corker from Burgundy, 2008 Macon Villages from Laboure Roi, a soft, buttery chardonnay with hints of citrus, provided the ideal wine match.

Pudding, sometimes a bit of a chore for even the greatest chefs but never for Chris Holland and his team, was a joy. A perfect mousse with apple and exotic hibiscus came with candied tarragon offering the slightest hint of anise, mulled blackberries and a sexy splash of sloe gin. Roll on the Champagne Oscars!

To start Sous-vide Dunham Massey pigeon, smoked parsnip pur�e, elderberry paint, watercress 2007 Cote de Beaune Villages, Louis Latour, France

To continue Cornish lemon sole, butter poached langoustine, roasted avocado and corn, lemon 2008 Macon Villages, Labour� Roi, France

To finish Apple and hibiscus mousse, candied tarragon, mulled blackberries, sloe gin Coffee and petit fours

The Alderley Restaurant, Edge Hotel, Macclesfield Road, Alderley Edge, Cheshire SK9 7BJ; Telephone 01625 583033;

A la carte starters from �11.50, mains from �23.50, desserts �10.50. Six-course tasting menu available every evening until 9pm: �58.50 per person.

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