Restaurant reviews, Stay Restaurant and Bar, Alderley Edge and The Swan, Tarporley

Age-old tradition meets international inspiration at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Wilmslow

Stay Restaurant and Bar

While many restaurants have come and gone and national chains proliferate, Heddy’s has been a mainstay of Wilmslow’s dining scene for ten years, rewarded during that time by a plethora of accolades, not least inclusion for many years in the Good Food Guide.

Not bad for a hands-on operation in a notoriously fickle industry and, dare one say it, a notably fashion-led locale. Yet there’s something about Middle Eastern restaurants that defies foodie faddishness. Well, let’s face it, the style of cuisine originating in that region is as old as cooking itself.

Iranian-born Heddy Ghazizadeh has now branched out, opening his bar-restaurant Stay in Alderley Edge’s London Road and bringing to it the same personal touches that have wooed customers at Heddy’s for the last decade. It’s not just their faces he remembers but he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of their culinary likes and dislikes. He has a mental index system with instant recall of all his patrons’ preferences.

I was staggered earlier this year when I encountered him at a Cheshire Life luncheon and he told me exactly what I had ordered when reviewing Heddy’s the best part of nine years before.

Interestingly Heddy has opened his new venture next door, literally, to Alderley Edge’s other Middle Eastern restaurant Konak, a highly respected Turkish eaterie. Iran and Turkey do share a frontier and, if one delves far back enough, a common history and culture. In Alderley Edge it’s a case of you pays your money...though Stay’s menu is rather more eclectic than its neighbour’s.

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Heddy, for instance, has long been influenced by Armenian cuisine (he worked for five years at Mulberry’s in Withington) and his 13 years as banqueting and purchase manager at Manchester’s acclaimed Yang Sing probably accounts for the inclusion of shredded duck spring rolls on his list of starters and seabass with oriental noodles as a main course.

Stay announces its presence with an open-fronted facade flanked by two flaming torches. Inside the narrowish dining area (there’s another on the first floor) leading to the bar there are few concessions to contemporary chi-chi design, There is plenty of dark wood in evidence, giving the place a traditional, rustic ambience in which what’s on the plate does the talking. We took along our soon-to-be-married daughter, a great fan of Middle Eastern cooking; she was not disappointed.

I began with one of the evening’s specials, rings of tender calamari coated in light crisp batter flavoured with coriander and served beside a pot of lovely lemon and tarragon mayo, partnered by fresh, crunchy salad - a summer delight for �5.50. Mrs K’s tiger prawns with chilli, garlic and herbs (�7.50) betrayed some of that aforementioned eclecticism - more Far East than Middle - but were nonetheless delicious with their subtle flavours and colourful salad accompaniment. Junior blonde chose that Byzantine staple, grilled halloumi on a bed of fresh baby spinach leaves (�5.50) - simple, satisfying and just the sort of thing you’d enjoy in a beach-side taverna.

For the main event I again chose one of the specials - and special it turned out to be. Four tender, pink, grilled Welsh lamb chops, deliciously marinated with honey and spices, came arranged over a timbale of rice spiked with roasted pistachios, lentils and chopped dates (�13,50), a combination of which Zarathustra would be more than happy to speak.

Mrs K’s plump, corn-fed chicken breast stuffed with feta, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, served with seasonal salad (�13) was bursting with harmonious flavours and our daughter enthused over her Chavourma - tender strips of lamb fillet cooked with aromatic herbs and spices served with salad and basmati rice together with a small jug of harissa-type chilli sauce (�13.95). We shared a side order of perfectly-crafted courgette fritters (�3.95) and rounded off with exemplary honeyed and nutty baklava and sumptuous raspberry cheesecake (�5.95 each). An interesting, accessible wine list yielded a vibrant unoaked chardonnay from Australia (�16.95) and a large glass of velvety Rioja (�6.95) which partnered my lamb admirably.Ray King

Stay Restaurant and Bar, 29 London Road, Alderley Edge. SK9 7JT. 01625 584040. www.stayrestaurant.co.uk.

And if you like that…Here are three more Middle Eastern restaurants around Cheshire for you to tryHanni's, 4 Brooklands Road, Sale, M33 3SQ. 0161 973 6606. A family-run restaurant now owned by the head chef.Cafe Istanbul, 79/81 Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 2RH. 0161 833 9942. A long-established restaurant which promises an authentic Turkish experience.Konak, 27a London Road, Alderley Edge, SK9 7JT. 01625 581811. The first Turkish restaurant in Alderley Edge.

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The Swan50 High Street, Tarporley, CW6 0AG01829 733838www.theswantarporley.co.uk

Style of venueA 16th century coaching inn with lots of character and different dining areas to explore.

On the menuTraditional but sophisticated English food. We enjoyed starters of a thick minestrone soup with basil croutons (�4.50) and a coarse farmhouse pate with tomato and apple chutney and Melba toast (�5.95). For main I tried the seafood papadelle, a creamy pasta dish served with king prawn, salmon, cod and fresh dill (�12.95). The wild mushroom risotto with rocket, parmesan and truffle oil (�6.95/�9.95) pleased my fellow diner and made up for the disappointment of this being the only vegetarian option on the mains list. The menu is changed daily though so another visit could reveal more options. Desserts of strawberries and ice cream (�4.50) and rhubarb and apple crumble with vanilla ice cream or custard (�4.50) impressed too.

D�corTraditional but with a modern touch. Wood panelling, heavy drapes and huge chunky antique furniture keeps this old feel of this lovely venue.

AmbienceCosy and comfortable and the atmosphere got better and better as each of the many dining rooms that are tucked away off a main corridor filled up.

ServiceVery good. Staff are attentive, efficient and unobtrusive

CostWe enjoyed three courses plus a locally brewed ale and a soft drink each for �46. A bottle of house red or white will cost you �12.

Suitability for entertainmentVery good for a meal for two and large groups - there are huge tables that will easily accommodate you if you are going out to enjoy dinner with family or friends.

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