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Cheshire Life Christmas Luncheon - Pecks Restaurant, Moreton, Congleton

PUBLISHED: 20:15 19 November 2013 | UPDATED: 20:15 19 November 2013

Fillet of Halibut on Braised Fennel, 
Orange scented Hollandaise

Fillet of Halibut on Braised Fennel, Orange scented Hollandaise

Archant

No-one does a celebration quite like Pecks. Cheshire Life decided it was the perfect place for our first Christmas lunch of 2013

Matt Cunliffe with Sophie-Amelia Kelly and Jon Roberts Matt Cunliffe with Sophie-Amelia Kelly and Jon Roberts

Tucked away in the Cheshire countryside in the village of Moreton, near Congleton, the restaurant appears to be a quiet backwater. But my-oh-my, for the best part of a quarter of a century this has been the destination of choice for people celebrating red letter occasions from birthdays to weddings and anniversaries or just determined to have a great night out.

Lots of places host parties, of course; the trick with Pecks is that the quality that the restaurant delivers, both from Les Wassall’s fine-tuned kitchen and in Matt Walsh’s slick and friendly front of the house service, is never compromised. Little wonder, then, that Pecks was the obvious choice for Cheshire Life to celebrate its special Christmas luncheon, the restaurant having found favour with the magazine’s judges who shortlisted it as one of just three contenders from across the county for the coveted Cheshire Restaurant of the Year Award.

Guests were greeted by owner Andrew Pear, who, with his wife Sue, bought Pecks almost six years ago because they enjoyed their regular visits so much. The couple breathed new life and contemporary style into a much-loved institution but recognised the restaurant’s key role in helping Cheshire celebrate.

The last time Cheshire Life staged a luncheon at Pecks, Andrew’s elegant 1960 Bentley S2 limousine, lovingly restored to grace the venue’s wedding business, was parked outside the entrance. Last June, in a blaze of celebrity publicity, the car carried global pop star Harry Styles and his mum, Anne, to the restaurant for her wedding at which the One Direction singer was best man.

And the relatively recently spliced Mrs Anne Twist and her husband Robin were among the guests who enjoyed welcoming flutes of Louis Roederer Brut Premier and a cavalcade of delicious canapés in the restaurant’s lobby and bar, beautifully decorated for Christmas by Sharon Eversfield’s Serenity Designs of Congleton. The company also provided gift bags for lady guests into which Rebecca Langford of 8th Planet Beauty, another local Congleton enterprise, had placed some of her own special treats.

The dining areas, subjected to a chic decor makeover to the design of Sue Pear, looked a picture with their tasteful festive touches and as soon as the team began to serve the impressive menu, sourced from exceptional local produce, guests recognised the value that experience brings to a restaurant. Head chef Les has been a Pecks’ stalwart for eight years, maitre d’ Matt for 13, having arrived straight from school; both adept at delivering quality and consistency.

We began with fillet of halibut served on braised fennel with orange scented hollandaise sauce - a lovely presentation with the superb fish moist in perfect flavour harmony with the fennel and the zest of citrus. The first of two top class wines from South Africa’s Western Cape, supplied by Portland Wines, was a fine, soft and rounded chenin blanc which matched the starter perfectly.

The main course partnered cannon of locally reared Deemster House Farm lamb with ‘sweet lamb pie’, onion tart tatin and fondant potato. The lamb was outstanding, served pink and tender, and the pie provided a clever festive touch with dried fruits and subtle mince pie spices like cinnamon nestling with slow-cooked lamb beneath its just-so shortcrust lid. The red wine, from the same Coastal region winery and the white, was a very amiable example of South Africa’s own hybrid grape, pinotage; smooth, intense and packed with red and black summer berries with touches of savoury spice and toasty oak.

Dessert - always a delightful ritual at Pecks’ celebrations, was a Les Wassall special comprising yummy sticky date pudding, refreshing and mildly spicy stem ginger ice-cream and a crisp ginger snap biscuit, daintily monogrammed in icing sugar with Pecks familiar logo. What a way to kick off the season of good cheer!

Cheshire Life Christmas Luncheon Menu

To start

Fillet of halibut, braised fennel, orange-scented hollandaise

Painted Wolf ‘The Den’ Chenin Blanc 2012, Western Cape, South Africa

To continue

Cannon of Deemster House Lamb, sweet lamb pie, onion tart tatin, fondant potato

Painted Wolf “The Den” Pinotage 2012, Western Cape, South Africa

To Finish

Assiette of Pecks’ desserts: sticky date pudding, stem ginger ice cream, ginger snap biscuit.

Coffee

Petit fours.

Fact file

Pecks Restaurant, Newcastle Road, Moreton cum Alcumlow, Congleton, Cheshire CW12 4SB.Tel: 01260 275161. www.pecksrest.co.uk

Christmas Dinner at Eight (26th November - 24th December): Tue & Wed (5 courses) £40.95; Thu & Fri (7 courses) £46.95; Sat (7 courses) £50.95.

Christmas Lunch (26th November - 23rd December) Mon-Sat noon-2pm, Sun noon-3pm: 3-course lunch with coffee £24.95. New Year’s Eve with Champagne & Fireworks: £85

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