CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cheshire Life today click here

Cheshire Life Luncheon - Restaurant 1539 at Chester Racecourse

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 August 2017

Earl Grey panna cotta, wild flower honey and Eccles Cake

Earl Grey panna cotta, wild flower honey and Eccles Cake


A Cheshire Life ladies’ lunch celebrated all things homegrown at Chester Racecourse’s Restaurant 1539, writes rebekka o’grady.

Charlotte McLoughlin and Stephanie WoodersonCharlotte McLoughlin and Stephanie Wooderson

We all know that it wouldn’t be a true English summer without rain; so thankfully guests at the latest Cheshire Life ladies’ lunch saw the funny side when it was announced that the event at Restaurant 1539 at Chester Racecourse had an English theme.

The drizzle unfortunately meant that a drinks reception on the terrace of the contemporary glass-fronted venue, which boasts panoramic views of the racecourse, was off the cards, but it didn’t stop guests enjoying a taste of summer thanks to the delicious gin cocktails and canapés – offering a glimpse of the exciting menu to come from head chef, Daniel Speak.

The chef, who previously spent 15 years at nearby Carden Park, has been in the kitchen at 1539 for 18 months. He and his brigade pride themselves on a menu that uses great, local produce, including items from their own herb garden.

‘We have seven varieties of mint and around six types of thyme. It’s all about ingredients being fresh and accessible. We have a great relationship with suppliers, and then it’s our job to convert those amazing products into something on a plate,’ said Daniel, who lives in North Wales. ‘I enjoy cooking rustic, homemade food – our duck shepherd’s pie has had a great response. It’s just simple, good food, cooked well.’

General Manager, Andre Sievers, with head chef, Daniel Speak and junior sous chef, Marcus HodgesGeneral Manager, Andre Sievers, with head chef, Daniel Speak and junior sous chef, Marcus Hodges

Our starter, asparagus mousse with Cornish crab and pink onions, was almost as pretty as the gorgeous floral centrepieces adorning each table, hand-crafted by Wrexham-based Vivid Floral Designs. The whole occasion evoked a sense of celebrating the quintessential English garden, with the light-as-air mousse topped with creamy crab pairing perfectly with a fresh asparagus salad – and a sweet yet sharp pink onion provided an edge to the fresh dish.

A glass of Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2013, a sparkling white wine, was a faultless partner for the starter, thanks to the expertise of Richard Smith of the Wine School of Cheshire. Prior to the lunch, Richard talked us through the tastes of the three English wines, all from Gusbourne Estate in Appledore, Kent, that had been paired with each course. Many guests were pleased to find out that the tipples were available to buy at Cheshire-based wine retailer, Corks Out.

Corn-fed Goosnargh chicken was the star attraction of the main course, served two ways. The breast was succulent, but my favourite element was a round of chicken wrapped in Oxsprings air dried ham – a beautiful combination of flavours. Jersey royal potatoes and a selection of summer vegetables completed the dish, which was paired with Gusbourne ‘Guinevere’ Chardonnay 2013.

Any English-themed event would be incomplete without a cup of tea, and a quirky take on the nation’s favourite drink marked the end to a very English lunch, with floral teacups filled with an Earl Grey panna cotta, topped with wild flower honey resembling large sugar cubes. A delicate earl grey flavour infused the light and creamy dessert, which was delicious even for non-tea drinkers like me. It was served with a mini Eccles cake on the side of the saucer, and a glass of sparkling Gusbourne Rose 2013.

Cheshire Life resident beauty expert, Armand Beasley, was also on hand to give guests at the ladies’ lunch his top handbag heroes and skin saviour tips, perfect advice as we go into the summer months. To hear more tips and tricks from the celebrity makeup artist, turn to his column on pXX.

From the menu:


Smoked salmon vol-au-vent, crème fraiche and dill

Ham hock and crostini with piccalilli

Whipped goats cheese mousse with sundried tomato

To start

Asparagus mousse with Cornish crab and pink onions

To continue

Corn fed Goosnargh chicken, Oxsprings air dried ham, Jersey royal potatoes and summer vegetables

To finish

Earl grey panna cotta, wild flower honey and Eccles cake

To drink

Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2013

Gusbourne ‘Guinevere’ Chardonnay 2013

Gusbourne Rose 2013


Restaurant 1539, Nuns Road, Chester, CH1 2LY

Tel: 01244 304 611,


Lunch: starters from £5, mains from £13.50, desserts from £6

Dinner: two courses, £19.50, three courses, £24.50

More from Food & Drink

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Weep no more wine fans, we may face high prices for our favourite tipple as a result of Brexit but we always have our home-grown vintages to fall back on.

Read more
Carden Park
Friday, October 6, 2017

Mere Brook House at Thornton Hough on the Wirral is a high-end B&B with a difference, discovers Martin Pilkington

Read more
Luxury Break Wirral
Friday, October 6, 2017

He’s an actor and a pub owner so who better to take over the restaurant at the Royal Exchange Theatre? Rupert Hill is more than ready for the challenge, as Janet Reeder discovers

Read more
Manchester Restaurants
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Great offers on food and drink at Allium by Mark Ellis over autumn until December.

Read more
Friday, September 29, 2017

The good life, Italian style, is alive and kicking, writes Louise Allen-Taylor

Read more
Manchester Restaurants
Thursday, September 28, 2017

When Olympians Liam Phillips, Jessica Varnish and Fran Halsall joined forces to launch a coffee shop, Common Ground in Altrincham, there was only ever going to be one result, writes Kate Houghton.

Read more
Cafes Altrincham
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Private dining takes on a new element at the chic award-winning King Street Townhouse in Manchester, writes Louise Allen-Taylor

Read more
Manchester Restaurants
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Now taking bookings for Christmas & New Year!

Read more
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mark Ellis was one of the stars of BBC’s Great British Menu, and the head chef at Peckforton Castle for nine years. All that experience goes into his new restaurant with rooms, Allium in Tattenhall, writes Louise Allen-Taylor

Read more
Cheshire Restaurants
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Digest this mini review in 60 seconds

Read more
Italian Food Cheshire Restaurants Hale
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Cheshire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Cheshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search