Restaurant reviews - Bacchus Restaurant & Champagne Bar, Prestbury and The Bunbury Arms, Stoak

Bacchus, a new restaurant in Prestbury, is superb, says our reviewer, and clearly a 'dining destination'. But when you go, don't take the train... Review by Ray King Plus a mini-review of The Bunbury Arms, Stoak, Chester

Appreciating a wine list as well as a menu requires certain disciplines. “It’s your turn to drive.” “Oh no, is it me again?” And so on. So, wherever possible, when we dine out, we let the train take the strain.

In this regard we are lucky, living as we do within a short walk of a station that avails us of services into Manchester, Chester and a number of Cheshire’s epicurean destinations like Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and all stations to both Macclesfield and Crewe. Thus when we headed for an evening in a restaurant named Bacchus, after the Roman god of wine, out came the timetable.

I don’t know how many people commute from Prestbury – maybe not many given the shabby Third World state of the railway station and the unlit and dangerous walk thence to the village centre – but theirs is a miserable experience. The plaque on the waiting room wall (I am not joking), placed by the Prestbury Amenity Society to celebrate the refurbishment of the station in November 1986 must provoke grimaces. The last quarter century has not been kind.

For the first couple of hundred yards in the pitch darkness, our walk to Bacchus Restaurant and Champagne Bar was aided by a small torch that Mrs K somehow fathomed from her bottomless handbag; after the Admiral Rodney it was plain sailing to Prestbury’s new and much needed top-end dining destination. The venture is a sister restaurant to the highly successful 39 Steps in Styal with Mike Williams, formerly of the late lamented Moss Nook, part of the management team and head chef Richard Ashworth coaxing the very best out of local, seasonal ingredients.

Their agenda is clear as soon as one picks up the menu: the first thing one reads is a list of ‘credits’ for top-notch suppliers and the cooking turned out to be absolutely worthy of their best produce. The 60-cover, low ceilinged dining room sports unfussy black, white and burnt orange decor with spotlights illuminating well naped tables and simple black, leatherette upholstered chairs set on a tiled floor. At the back – the bar has been moved rearwards since the days this place was Nice – the Champagne Bar’s somewhat higher ceiling is hung with elaborate crystal chandeliers over tall tables and smart Art Deco-style stools.

The food is resolutely modern British with excellent provenance and superb quality. My opener, pan-fried breast of wood pigeon with puy lentils, chorizo and red wine reduction (�10.25), looked an absolute picture and delivered a fantastic range of flavours and textures. The pigeon was perfectly done, deep rose pink and silkily tender; the lentils just al dente and the saucing tip-top; One of the starters of the last 12 months.

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Mrs K was equally enthusiastic about her peppered Tatton Park loin of venison (�9.50), delightfully presented with mini quenelles of piquant tomato and fennel chutney. Pricey yes, but both dishes featured the highest quality ingredients.

For the main event we both chose fish – as we often do when quality promises so much - mine from the a la carte menu and for herself, the night’s additional choice – delicious fillets of plaice topped with prawns and served simply with a tangle of wilted spinach, waxy saut�ed new potatoes and a lovely lemon butter sauce (�23.50). I had pan-fried pave of halibut with saffron potatoes, cabbage in basil cream and chive butter (�23.50), another piscatorial triumph for Richard Ashworth and the brigade. Presentation was exemplary: snow white fish, its flesh moist and creamy and the accompaniments were spot on.

We shared side orders of the best fat chips ever and seasonal vegetables comprising tender stem broccoli, green beans, Savoy cabbage stuffed with red cabbage and elaborately turned carrots which we hoovered up with gusto in anticipation of that return walk in the dark. We finished by sharing a brilliantly constructed dessert of hot chocolate toffee and pistachio fondant with lavender ice cream (�7); so many pitfalls, all avoided with aplomb.Superb.

The wine list is full of interest and includes a good house selection whence came our vibrant, fruity Sol de Andes 2010 sauvignon blanc from Chile, ideal with the fish, for a reasonable �17.25. Wines by the 125ml glass start at �3.25 and the house champagne is the excellent Louis Roederer Brut Premier, good value at �39 a bottle. With a final bill, including the tip, of �111, Bacchus is not an everyday neighbourhood restaurant, not even in Prestbury. It’s special and well worth a detour – even via that station.

Bacchus Restaurant & Champagne Bar, The Village, Prestbury, Cheshire SK10 4DG. Tel: 01625 820

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Digest this mini-review in 60 seconds

The Bunbury ArmsLittle Stanney LaneStoak, Chester, CH2 4HWTel: 01244

Style of venueA cosy country pub. It’s full of character and plays a big part in community life. The kitchen area dating from the 1700s, was originally used by farmers to store cheese and bread, and is still in use today.

On the menuYou’ll find the great dishes you’d expect to find on the menu at a great country pub, including beer battered fish and chips, outdoor reared pork sausage with mash and onion gravy and camembert baked in the box and served with crusty bread. But there’s also a good choice of continental inspired meals including a chicken and chorizo stew with patatas bravas. Plus, there’s an extensive specials menu and The Bunbury has a great reputation for its real ales.Local producers are well supported too with locally shot game, Red Poll beef from nearby Mickle Trafford and bread from Malpas.

D�corThis beautiful old building has been kept at its best with exposed beams and cosy corners. The pub also has its own field which has been converted into a wildflower meadow.

AmbienceWarm, welcoming and cosy. Despite going early in the week, the pub was busy and had a great atmosphere.

ServiceFriendly and efficient.

CostReasonable. Two of us enjoyed two courses with soft drinks for around �36. You’ll find a well stocked wine list and a great choice of real ales.

Emma Mayoh

The print version of this article appeared in the February 2012  issue of Cheshire Life 

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