Restaurant review - The Lime Tree, Bollington
PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 April 2017
The Lime Tree in Bollington continues a reputation for culinary excellence stretching back three decades, writes Louise Allen-Taylor
I’m feeling hungry...but also rather old. For, as I sit perusing the menu at The Lime Tree in Bollington, I read that the original Lime Tree in Didsbury – something of a pioneer of what we now tend to call modern British food – has notched up 30 years of service. It really doesn’t seem so long.
The Lime Tree’s Cheshire incarnation, in Bollington, has been making the inhabitants of Happy Valley that bit happier for almost five years. Cheshire Life raved about it at first tasting, and, after much too long, we are back for seconds.
It’s a dank Tuesday night and yet we arrive to find the place buzzing, with tipplers in the wine bar and plenty of diners in the restaurant. Converted from two shops in what is now a conservation area, The Lime Tree looks very much like it belongs here. There are wooden floors, exposed stone walls, chairs which I would guess, judging by the hymn book-shaped shelves in the back, were reclaimed from a chapel, and wall decorations such as bunches of onions – très Français – and pairs of clogs, recalling Bollington’s heritage as a mill town.
Chef-owner Patrick Hannity established a reputation at the original Lime Tree in Didsbury for the seasonality of the menu and local provenance of the ingredients. That was taken to its logical conclusion in 2008 when Patrick bought Hardingland Farm in the Macclesfield Forest to supply free range eggs, lamb, beef, and pork to his restaurants.
To some diners, this farm-to-fork ethos will prove an irresistible part of The Lime Tree’s allure. To others who do not necessarily crave to be on first name terms with their lamb chop, the restaurant will appeal simply because it delivers great food and a decent range of wine in an attractive yet relaxing setting.
I’m initially drawn to the Tuesday-Thursday set menu: three courses plus a 125ml glass of house wine, with starter choices including moules mariniere and crispy pork belly, and mains such as Goosnargh chicken with paprika fries or cod and chorizo stew...all for £20 a head. That’s outrageously good value.
But we decide not to stint the company’s expense account. A starter of twice-baked Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese soufflé (£7.25) is light on the fork but pleasingly pungent on the tongue, the cheesiness nicely counterpointed with the mustiness of toasted hazelnuts and the sweetness of poached pears and a port dressing on the salad.
My companion goes for tempura squid and king prawns (£9.25) which arrive with a smearing of sweet chili sauce and big dollop of creamy aioli. The squid is soft, the batter light and the prawns equally perfect in taste and texture.
My main of roast leg of lamb with mash (£12.95) is like the best Sunday lunch. My companion goes for Thai-style monkfish tail (£17.95) which consists of a meaty portion of fish, a timbale of rice and a ball of julienne vegetables in a creamy, coconutty curry sauce which exudes a gathering heat.
My dessert of a Grand Marnier laced pancake (£5) is deliciously bittersweet. My companion enjoys a pud of rhubarb and apple crumble (£6) despite complaining about why crumble toppings these days are always loose and dusty compared with the gluey confections of his youth. Hmm. Perhaps we’re both getting old.
The Lime Tree, 18 - 20 High Street, Bollington SK10 5PH, 01625 578182, www.limetreebollington.co.uk