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Clearly, lunch is not for wimps. Cheshire Life's first 'men only' lunch at the Lord Binning in Kelsall lays some myths to rest and reveals a new star on the dining scene WORDS BY RAY KING PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

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Lunch, remarked Gordon Gekko, Oliver Stones ruthless trader in the movie Wall Street, is for wimps.


Well Gordon, you got it wrong. In fact you got a lot wrong. My guess is that if you and your ilk had spent more time lunching and less time gambling with other peoples money, the world wouldnt be in the financial hole it is today.


I have always been an enthusiast for lunch. Lunch is good. Luncheon is better for, like the French say, a soire implies much more of an occasion than le soir, a mere description of a time of day. And an occasion was exactly what the inaugural Cheshire Life Mens Luncheon turned out to be.


For one thing the venue - star chef David Mooney and accomplished restaurateur Paul Newmans new venture in Kelsall - was ideal. Their major investment in whats now the Lord Binning variously the Morris ChileDancer, Olive Tree and Globe in previous un-and-down incarnations has reinvented a landmark Cheshire village pub and created a delightful new dining destination.


After a 15-month closure the Lord Binning offers a sleek, contemporary and stylish bar and dining room, complete with open theatre kitchen, yet retains a traditional pubby area in the original 17th Century building focusing on fine cask ales supplemented by premium spirits and well-sourced wines.


Guests gathered in the restaurants bar for welcoming flutes of Binning Fizz, a refreshing cocktail made from Jacquart Champagne and Willington Fruit Farms Coxs apple juice, grown in the orchard next to the pub, a sprig of mint and a squeeze of lime and drifted out to the sunny terrace with its wisteria and vine-clad pergola.

The tipple, and the canaps, herb crumpets topped with naturally smoked haddock and mustard cream, epitomised what David Mooney and the Lord Binning are all about: simple rustic even - British food using the finest local produce with admirable emphasis on seasonality. Of course simple is often desperately difficult to pull off, for simple offers no hiding place for indifferent ingredients or uninspired cooking. But David and his head chef Paul Mercandelli dont do mediocre and luncheon was a local treat from start to finish. Even the table water was provided from Cheshires only spring, Peckforton Hills.

We began with a collation of rare breed middle white ham hock, R&S Irelands rich and spicy black pudding, mustard, parsley and a baton of toast real mens tucker this that was packed with satisfyingly robust flavours. The accompanying wine, a young, fruit-driven Rioja with delicate rather than overpowering vanilla oak nuances, was presented by Dave Large of the Wine Agency. Co-owned by Paul Newman, the importer is able to import small parcels of exciting well-priced wines for a regularly changing list at the Lord Binning.


The main course was also a triumph of taste, place and time succulent and flavoursome supremes of traditionally-raised roast Guinea fowl superbly partnered with Ashton Hayes Plum and Thyme Essence, crushed Cheshire potatoes and Savoy cabbage. It was matched by another red from the Wine Agency, an exceptionally smooth and rounded Chianti Classico whose traditional sangiovese grapes were blended with a dash of merlot.


Pudding, a David Mooney signature, was a magnificently manly apple pie, its pastry meltingly good, enveloping delicious James Grieve apples from next door, glazed with Helers Cheshire cheese and served with proper custard. The dessert wine was very special too Tabali late harvest muscat from Chile, sourced by Boutinot and presented in person at the luncheon by Felipe Muller, Chiles winemaker of the year 2010.



Cheshire Life Mens Luncheon Menu

To start
Middle White Ham Hock, R&S Irelands black pudding, mustard and parsley

Koden Rioja 2009, Spain

To continue
Roast Guinea Fowl, Ashton Hayes plum and thyme essence, crushed Cheshire potatoes, Savoy cabbage

Clinto Chianti Classico DOGC 2008, Italy

To finish
Kelsall apple pie and custard

Tabali Late Harvest Muscat 2010, Chile




The Lord Binning Pub & Kitchen, Chester Road, Kelsall, Cheshire CW6 0RS. Tel: 01829751411; www.lordbinning.co.uk
Open Mon-Fri noon-3pm and 5.30pm-9.30pm; Sat/Sun noon-9.30pm. Starters from 4; mains & grills from 9; desserts from 4.50; sharing planks 12.





The print version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Cheshire Life

We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here

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