Cheshire Life Luncheon - The Hanging Gate, Weaverham
PUBLISHED: 16:54 01 April 2013 | UPDATED: 21:34 21 October 2015
And then there were three...and soon to be four. The New Moon Pub Company just keeps on rising, and guests at this Cheshire Life luncheon at the Hanging Gate in Weaverham agreed. Words by Ray King Photography John Cocks
Experienced restaurateur Paul Newman and accomplished chef David Mooney are turning out to be one of the most astute and successful double acts in Cheshire’s key hospitality business.
Since founding their New Moon Pub Company – no prizes for guessing how they derived the venture’s name – just two years ago, their portfolio of splendid dining pubs has grown to three: the Lord Binning in Kelsall, the Old Session House in Knutsford and the Hanging Gate in Weaverham.
Not only is this dynamic duo bucking the trend against a background of pub closures, their expertise in breathing new life into weary, time-served, moribund hostelries has been a major boost in some of Cheshire’s most charming locations.
This month the pair will cast their magic spell on a fourth venue in the Wirral, but for this Cheshire Life luncheon it was in the picturesque village of Weaverham that guests got full on with New Moon’s rapidly ascending new star.
The whitewashed 18th Century former coaching house by the roadside of what used to be – pre bypass – the A49, has been transformed by its £250,000 makeover; like its sister operations it remains a local pub but the emphasis is now firmly on dining. We gathered in the stylishly remodelled, low-beamed bar with its leather Chesterfield sofas and smartly decorated dining room for pre-prandial Bellinis and delightful canapés of mini sausage and mash and tiny crumpets with Cheshire cheese.
We dined in ‘the extension’, a space that really did elicit wows from guests on entry. The high-vaulted square room offers a striking contrast between the plain - austere even - natural bare brick walls and wooden floor and the huge, magnificently elegant reclaimed chandelier suspended above. Wall decorations are eye-catching too and upholstered corner banquettes complement seating around stylishly set unclad tables.
The New Moon philosophy is a simple one – to provide good food, good beer and good wines in great surroundings – and the Hanging Gate luncheon ticked all those boxes. While sourcing of fine ingredients starts, as David puts it, ‘at the back door’, he does believe in venturing further to ensure the best; hence there was a touch of Lancashire and Cumbria about the menu.
We began in traditional rustic style with a rillette of moist and flavoursome middle white pork and treacle roasted pork studded with oven dried Kelsall apples garnished with tea-soaked raisin relish, a classic partnership of for enjoying with crunchy buttered toast. An attactive looking fish course followed featuring a fleshy breaded scallop served with a sliver of seared halibut, puréed mushy peas, a drizzle of mild curry sauce and a crispy shard of deep-fried soda bread; a fun dish straddling the dividing line between the chippy and much finer dining.
The main event showcased Guinea fowl, an ingredient of hopeful culinary aspiration but so often dry and disappointing. Here it was spot on, the trick being in the poaching, leaving the breast moist and deliciously flavoured. The accompanying ‘Hanging Gate hash brown’ turned out to be a simple but clever amalgamation of black pudding – an enduring Mooney favourite – sautéed onions and crushed potato. Spring carrots, beef tea and claret and thyme broth completed the picture.
Pudding was a hybrid treat – locally made Eccles cakes topped with crumbled Cheshire cheese rather than the Lancashire cheese of tradition – a great sweet-sour sensation, served with proper custard. Both wines, representing Spain’s exciting new wave, came straight from the Hanging Gate’s list: Green Fish Verdejo, a fresh limey, zingy white well worth further investigation and Red Boar Bobal, a warm and spicy red from the Valencia region.
The Hanging Gate is swinging again.
Cheshire Life luncheon menu
Rillette of middle white pork, treacle roasted pork.
Seared halibut fillet, scallop, mushy peas, curry sauce.
Poached breast of guinea fowl, Hanging Gate hash browns, Spring carrots.
Homemade Eccles cake, Cheshire Cheese, custard.
Red Boar Bobal 2011, Spain
Green Fish Verdejo 2011, Spain
The Hanging Gate Inn, 1 Sandy Lane, Weaverham, Cheshire, CW8 3HG. Tel 01610 853009, www.hanginggate.co.uk
Food served Mon-Fri: Lunch 12:00-15:00; Dinner 17:30-21.30; Sat-Sun: 12:00-21:30. Main menu starters from £4.50; mains from £11.95.