Restaurant review - The Oakwood, Alderley Edge
PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 August 2016 | UPDATED: 11:07 19 August 2016
© The Vain Photography | Carl Sukonik | http://www.thevain.co.uk/ | http://www.twitter.com/thevainphotos
Alderley Edge gets yet another good restaurant in the shape of The Oakwood...and the locals are not backward in coming forward, writes Louise Allen-Taylor
It’s a Wednesday night just two days after The Oakwood has opened its doors and we arrive to find the place thronged.
The sybarites in this leafiest corner of leafy Cheshire know what they like when it comes to a plate of artisan this or char-grilled that, and the gleeful hubbub in this Farrow & Ball-hued room tells its own story: instant success.
One forkful and we see why. My dining companion has ordered what is, at £8.50, the most expensive starter on the menu: potted Cromer crab with avocado, shallot and coriander guacamole and prawn butter with toasted pain de campagne. It arrives in a little kilner jar, its contents ruddy-coloured and densely textured with a pleasing red fatty seal on the surface. He says it has an intensely crabby taste that hits right away, with a gathering peppery heat that quickly follows. ‘It’s an absolute flavour bomb!’ he exclaims. He dug deeper and found softer, creamier avocado tastes. This is, apparently, a real star of a dish.
Meanwhile, I was raving about my cheddar cheese soufflé with warm cheese sauce (£6.50). It’s among a trio of ‘French classics’ on the menu, also including a fish soup and Burgundian snails in garlic herb butter. The Oakwood boasts of combining the best of traditional pub food with the best of a French brasserie. A good soufflé is surely the test of that claim, in which case this soufflé - properly light, not at all moussey - passes with flying colours.
Before we go on to the mains, a little about The Oakwood’s provenance. What was a Loch Fyne seafood restaurant is now a northern outpost for the White Brasserie Company, which has ten other pubs in affluent corners of the south east. Raymond Blanc is on the board of White Brasserie’s holding company Brasserie Bar Company, but he has a more obvious involvement with another arm of the business, Brasserie Blanc, which opened its 18th restaurant in the Royal George Building, Knutsford, on the very same day as The Oakwood opened.
Hence, you won’t see Blanc’s name on The Oakwood’s menu, but if you put White Brasserie and Brasserie Blanc menus side by side, you will find considerable overlap, including that splendid potted crab.
Phew! Now I’m hungry again. A main of chilli and ginger squid (£13.50) - another dish served up by both White Brasseries and Brasserie Blancs - is not quite as chilli-fied as my taste buds demand, but the squid is tender and, with coriander, rocket, curly endive, grilled courgette, aubergine, smoked parpika and red pepper dressing, it is a dish full of pleasingly smoky flavours. A second main of grilled cod fillet with preserved lemon marinade, new potatoes and roast tomato sauce is lightly cooked and convincingly French in style.
A pud of pistachio soufflé with chocolate ice cream (£6.50) looks huge but it is so light that the delicious airy green goo disappears in moments.
With its zinc-topped bar, wood flooring and its assortment of seating - tables, booths and benches - The Oakwood is a stylish-looking place. In terms of atmosphere, it is perhaps more pub than brasserie. This being Alderley Edge, however, this is a pub where you’ll find a £295 bottle of Cristal Brut on the bill of fare. w
The Oakwood is at Brook Lane, Alderley Edge SK9 7RU, tel 01625 587 420, www.oakwoodalderleyedge.com