Cheshire Life Luncheon - Tom at 101, Stockton Heath

Tom 101 Cheshire Life Luncheon

Tom 101 Cheshire Life Luncheon - Credit: Cheshire Life

Ten years is more than enough time for most restaurants to open, bloom and then wither. But Tom at 101 goes from strength to strength. It celebrated its tenth birthday with a lunch for Cheshire Life and friends

'Higher Ground' sound from Rik Bridge, Craig Smith and Danny Curwen

'Higher Ground' sound from Rik Bridge, Craig Smith and Danny Curwen - Credit: Archant

One of the toughest calls in the hospitality business is blending live entertainment with a rewarding dining experience. Many have found this to be a balancing act impossible to pull off and it’s usually the culinary side of the equation that falls short.

Tom Rogers, however, has been successfully walking just this tightrope for ten years - offering live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes - at his buzzing restaurant bar and grill in Stockton Heath, while maintaining award-winning standards for high-quality modern British cuisine with all its smart, populist twists.

A former executive chef at hotels across the country, but always dreaming of running an independent restaurant of his own, he opened the doors of Tom at 101 in March 2004, since when branches of some of the country’s biggest restaurant chains have piled into this fashionable village just south of Warrington. That Tom at 101 continues to flourish in the face of intense competition from rivals with national resources is due in no small part to the owner’s attention to detail, not only in the kitchen, where he spends half his working week, but also from the vantage point of his reserved table in the bar-restaurant, where he keeps in close touch with his clientele.

No surprise, then, that when guests of Cheshire Life’s May luncheon climbed the stairs to Tom at 101’s vibrant, stylish and spacious first floor bar to celebrate the venue’s 10th birthday, the main man was there to personally greet everyone - most of whom he knows. With the accomplished trio Higher Ground playing live, we toasted the occasion with flutes of Veuve Cliquot Brut from one of the classiest of the great champagne houses and enjoyed a cavalcade of pastry tartlet canapés, featuring variously, lobster, pate, cream cheese and smoked salmon.

Birthday cake

Birthday cake - Credit: Archant

Head chef Lee Fish’s luncheon menu, tweaked only slightly from Tom at 101’s a la carte, was a perfectly judged, seasonal delight. The starter sang a fantastic song of springtime, combining finely sliced salmon cured with maple and sloe gin with slivers of lobster, warm miniature buttermilk blinis and a delicate pea lettuce salad. The accompanying wine, unoaked and vibrantly fruity white Franschhoek Chardonnay, was the first of three supplied by independent merchant Corks Out, whose Stockton Heath shop is just across London Road from Tom at 101 and described by director Richard Yates.

The beautiful floral table decorations hadn’t travelled far either - created by The Village Florist, also in London Road, Stockton Heath.

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Our main course brought a delicious, two-inch thick, tender fillet of Angus X fillet of beef from TTS Meats of Macclesfield - managing director Tim Blackhurst was among the guests - served with a perfectly executed buttered fondant potato, glazed sweet baby carrots and asparagus, braised red cabbage, slow roasted vine tomatoes and a silky, flavoursome Madeira wine reduction. Richard’s wine match for this fabulous dish was an equally fabulous red, complex, concentrated and broodingly fruity Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec from Argentina where they know more than a thing or two about great steaks.

Pudding was a simple light delight - beautiful orange curd ice cream flanked on either side by two yummy Sicilian lemon meringue pies whose fresh citrus tang worked superbly well with the dessert wine, sweet yet fresh and uncloying Concha Y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. We raised a celebratory glass to ten more years.

Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu

To start

Sloe Gin & Maple Cured Salmon, Warm Buttermilk Blinis, Lobster & Pea Lettuce Salad.

Franschhoek Cellar “Our Town Hall” Chardonnay 2013, South Africa.

To continue

Angus X Fillet of Beef, Buttered Fondant Potato, Braised Red Cabbage, Glazed Bay Carrots, Slow Roasted Vine Tomatoes, Madeira Wine Reduction.

Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2011, Argentina.

To finish

Sicilian Lemon Meringue Pie, Orange Curd Ice Cream.

Concha Y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Chile.

Coffee & Tom’s Truffle Selection

Fact file

Tom at 101, 101 London Road, Stockton Heath, Warrington, Cheshire WA14 6LG; Tel: 01925 212660.

Open noon until late, daily. New a la carte plus: Lunch Club Monday-Saturday 12-4pm, 2 courses for £9.95; 3 for £12.95. Dinner Club Monday to Saturday 4pm-7pm, 2 courses for £15.95; 3 courses for £18.95; Monday & Wednesday 7.00pm-10.31pm, 3 courses & a drink on Tom £18.95.

Every Sunday at Tom’s, 11am-9:31pm: Sunday Roasts £11.99, 2 courses for £14.95, 3 courses for £18.95.

Higher Ground Band: 07861 230438.