2018 Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards - the shortlists
PUBLISHED: 09:36 02 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:09 17 July 2018
The judges of Cheshire Life's Food & Drink Awards unveil their shortlist for this year's event, with the winners to be declared at a glamorous black tie ceremony at Carden Park Hotel on July 16th.
It’s that time of year again, when we serve up our plaudits to the chefs and food producers who keep us so very well fed for the rest of the year.
Yes, Cheshire Life’s Food & Drink Awards provide an opportunity to say thank you and well done to those who make their living in the county’s restaurants, hotels, pubs and the myriad food-related enterprises.
The places and people on our shortlist here are the tip of the iceberg which is the food economy, the best of the best. They are part of an industry which has grown and grown in recent decades, with food becoming increasingly important not just to our enjoyment of life but also to the economy of the region.
All the nominees gather for the black tie dinner and awards ceremony at Carden Park on Monday July 16th. Who has the unenviable task of cooking for Cheshire’s foodie elite at this prestigious event? That would be Graham Tinsley MBE, Carden Park’s executive head chef and recipient of last year’s Cheshire Life Chef of the Year award. No pressure then, Graham.
There will be a sheaf of awards given out on the night, including Chef of the Year, Food Hero and Customer Service. But there are no losers; every establishment on this shortlist is more than worthy of your patronage. Here are the nominations for Cheshire Life’s Food & Drink Awards 2018.
CHESHIRE LIFE RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Alderley Edge Hotel Bar & Restaurant
Given a more airy look and a less formal ambience as part of a £2.5m transformation, the restaurant is looking good, and head chef Sean Sutton has come in to his own with a menu of modern British dishes, often heartier than you would expect. Carnivores are well-catered for with offerings from the charcoal-fired Josper grill.
Macclesfield Rd, SK9 7BJ, www.alderleyedgehotel.com
La Boheme, Lymm
Head chef Olivier Troalen and his wife Adele run a restaurant which is French through and through. Look at the menu: Cuisse De Grenouilles A La Ma Façon (frogs’ legs in garlic butter), Lapin A La Didier (rabbit bon bon, rabbit leg confit and saddle of rabbit in parma ham) and Soup L’Oignon. An evening ‘menu fixe’ offers three courses for £31.
3 Mill Lane, Lymm, WA13 9SD, tel 01925 753657, www.laboheme.co.uk
The Sandbach restaurant is the third in the Phanthong group, following on from Altrincham and Wilmslow. There’s a comprehensive Thai a la carte menu, and Sunday buffet for those wanting a change from roast dinner. The room is a study in sophisticated understatement, and the locals have welcomed Phanthong in to Sandbach’s restaurant scene.
2-4 Crewe Road, CW11 4NE, tel 01270 759955, www.phanthong.co.uk
CHESHIRE LIFE DINING PUB OF THE YEAR
The Church Green, Lymm
While Aiden Byrne has led the as-yet unsuccessful charge for a Manchester Michelin star, with high-style eateries such as Manchester House and now 20 Stories, The Church Green, has quietly got on with the business of serving top class British pub grub to grateful locals. And now the lounge is dog-friendly...good news for walkers around Lymm dam.
Higher Lane, Lymm WA13 0AP, tel 01925 752068, aidenbyrne.co.uk
The Thatch Inn, Faddiley
As the name suggests, this is a thatched 15th century building which could serve as the dictionary definition of a traditional English pub. The menu fulfils expectations of the best of British grub too, from the prawn cocktail to the sausage and mash, the steak and ale pie, the gammon, egg and pineapple, and....what else for afters but bread and butter pudding?
Wrexham Rd, Faddiley, CW5 8JE, 01270 524223, www.thethatchnantwich.co.uk
The Cholmondeley Arms, Malpas
This characterful building tells you what it is at first glance: an old schoolhouse (which once served Lord Cholmondeley’s estate) turned into a pub. The menu is hearty English fare with an eye to tradition but done with a good dose of 21st century savvy. It’s another of the gems in the Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars group, and its speciality is gin...366 varieties of it!
Wrenbury Road, Malpas SY14 8HN, tel 01829 720300, cholmondeleyarms.co.uk
CHESHIRE LIFE INDEPENDENT RETAILER OF THE YEAR
Burwardsley Village Store
A vital element in a village which, unlike many, still has a shop, a pub and a church, Burwardsley Village Store sells products including cheese made in the village, Cheshire Farm Ice Cream, Tiresford Yogurt from Tarporley and breads from Swiss Chalet Bakery in Ellesmere Port. Phillip and Rachel Warner-Smith describe the shop as a hub of the community.
Harthill Rd, Chester CH3 9NU, tel 01829 770359
G. Wienholt Bakery,
George Wienholt was son of a baking family who could trace their lineage back to a young confectioner Ferdinand Wienholdt who came over from Germany in the 1860s. George set up his bakery in Alderley Edge and the ethos is quality ingredients and products never less than perfect. There are cakes, patisserie and savouries including a steak pie made just as George decreed.
25 London Road, Alderley Edge SK9 7JT, tel 01625 583275
Define Food & Wine, Northwich
Stocking an array of artisan products to draw in the region’s discerning wine-lovers, this wine merchant also supplies pubs and restaurants, London food halls and Michelin-starred restaurants. There is also a wine school (who says learning can’t be fun?), a deli offering cheese, charcuterie and pâtés and a dining area with French pastries, tapas and other small plates.
2 School Lane, CW8 2NH, tel 01606 882101, www.definefoodandwine.com
NORTH WALES DINING EXCELLENCE OF THE YEAR
Machine House, Rossett
This former machinery repair shop has been turned into a characterful, intimate venue with an eye-catching wall-hanging - a penny farthing bike - and a smattering of mod culture. Chef du patron Kevin Lynn, who hails from Warrington and made his name at Belle Epoque in Knutsford and Shrigley Hall, takes the best ingredients and lets them speak for themselves on the plate.
Chester Road, LL12 OHW, tel 01244 571678, machinehouse.co.uk
Signatures Restaurant, Conwy
If your idea of a an eatery on a caravan park is a hut selling burgers and chips, think again. Signatures is on the Aberconwy Resort & Spa - a Rolls-Royce among caravan parks - and the restaurant is similarly shiny and sleek....very much Hale-by-the-Sea. Chef Jimmy Williams whips up the likes of scallops Rockefeller and deconstructed coq au vin from an open kitchen.
Aberconwy Resort & Spa, Conwy LL32 8GA, tel 01492 583513. www.lovesignatures.co.uk
Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, Conwy
The Hayloft is the posher eating place at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, where chef Hefin Roberts uses local ingredients to create seasonal menus which showcase those products just as much as they demonstrate the chef’s skills. While enjoying the Hayloft’s fare, browse the astonishing range in Bodnant’s shop.
Furnace Farm, Tal-y-cafn, Conwy LL28 5RP, tel 01492 651100 www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk
CHESHIRE LIFE TEAROOM/CAFÉ OF THE YEAR
Aubergine Café, West Kirby
The locals are fiercely proud of this little gem - a neighbourhood family-run café tucked away down a side street in the seaside town of West Kirby. Breakfast, brunch, sandwiches, salads, afternoon tea or just a reviving cuppa - Aubergine delivers them all with style using, wherever possible, ingredients sourced very close by.
Blenheim Building, The Crescent, West Kirby, Wirral CH48 4DA, tel 0151 625 2662, www.aubergine.cafe
Gran T’s, Altrincham
Everyone has a soft spot for their old gran, don’t they? Chris Taylor went one better and set up a cafe in Altrincham named after his late Gran T and conjuring an ambience reminiscent of a visit to your gran’s. That means board games and books for the kids, sandwiches and cake, an informal atmosphere and higgledy-piggledy furnishings.
29 Stamford New Road, Altrincham WA14 1EB, gran-t-coffeehouse.co.uk
The Hollies Farmshop Cafe, Little Budworth
The Hollies began in 1959 as a roadside veg stall and honesty box. Little Budworth was the site of the first farm shop, and it continues to offer butchery, delicatessen, gifts, garden centre, forest lodges and the coffee shop, which draws on top farm produce to serve up everything from a hearty breakfast to cake and coffee. T
Tarporley Rd, CW6 9ES, tel 01829 760414, www.theholliesfarmshop.co.uk
CITY RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
WOOD restaurant, Manchester
This airy fine-dining-but-informal restaurant is close to Home art and theatre complex in First Street - yet another new quarter of Manchester city centre. The Wood of the title is executive chef and owner Simon Wood, winner of MasterChef in 2015. The food is modern British, and though this is fine dining, Wood’s cuisine is bold, not prissy.
Jack Rosenthal Street, Manchester, M15 4RA, tel 0161 236 5211, www.woodmanchester.com
Caffé Grand by Piccolino
Very much in the heart of the city - literally across the road from Manchester Town Hall - the flagship Piccolino underwent a £1.3m makeover a couple of years ago to make it bigger and more opulent. Caffé Grand is an all-day destination, from breakfast to late, offering not just a comprehensive Italian menu but also cocktail bar, juice bar, oyster and caviar bar.
8 Clarence St, M2 4DW, tel 0161 835 9860, individualrestaurants.com
Randall and Aubin, Manchester
The gravitational pull of Manchester’s dining scene has drawn in several London names, and Randall and Aubin, the Soho seafood restaurant, is just another to set up a northern outpost with their very fine-looking brasserie in Bridge Street. Not just fish and seafood dishes, but also rotisserie meats. Or you could just enjoy a martini beneath the twinkling disco ball.
64 Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BN, tel 0161 711 1007, www.randallandaubin.com
CHESHIRE LIFE FOOD OR DRINK PRODUCER OF THE YEAR
Forest Gin, Macclesfield
Lindsay and Karl Bond set up this firm in what you’d have to describe as the highlands of Cheshire...Macclesfield Forest. A maximum of 85 bottles are made at any one time, and the additions to the spirit include not just local spring water but juniper berries, coriander seeds, vanilla, liquorice, flowers and Peak District mosses and ferns.
The Forest Distillery, Chambers Farm, SK11 0AR, tel 01260 253245, www.forestgin.com
Jeffrey’s Tonic, Chester
If gin is big news, tonic is less so. Mike and Maureen Robinson aim to change that with a range of tonic syrups which they hope will have us talking of a ‘gin and Jeffrey’s’. Variations on the tonic theme include recipes with lime, galangal and orange, yarrow, cinchona bark with Sicilian lemon juice. The Chester firm’s stated intention is to lift your spirits.
15 Lockwood View, Chester CH2 1EZ, tel 0773 442 8857, www.jeffreystonic.com
Fruits of the Forage, Macclesfield
Find your own food...that’s the essence of foraging. This questing form of gastronomy has translated into a business for Fruits of the Forage, harvesting fruit from abandoned orchards and plucking nature’s bounty to produce a range which includes hedgerow harvest jam, sloe Seville marmalade, mulled plum jam and hogweed curry chutney.
10-16 Great King Street, SK11 6PL, tel 07956 091113, www.fruitsoftheforage.co.uk
CHESHIRE LIFE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Barristers Restaurant and Bar
In retaining many original features of Knutsford’s 200-year-old former justice building, the creators of Barristers restaurant - part of the The Courthouse hotel - have made it a unique space. The legal theme carries over into fascinating decor and artwork and, in keeping with the imposing surroundings, executive chef Steven Tuke’s menu is arrestingly good.
The Courthouse, Toft Road, Knutsford, WA16 0PB, 01565 743333 www.thecourthousecheshire.com/restaurant
Fisk is, in several Scandinavian languages, the word for fish, and that - chiefly, but not exclusively - is what you’ll get at this Prestbury restaurant, the second eatery for a concept which began in Harrogate. Asian influences are to the fore, but there are elements of so many other cuisines in the creations of chef patron Kanyana Williams. There’s a Pol Roger champagne bar too.
New Road, Prestbury SK10 4HP, 01625 820 765, www.fiskuk.com
The Tapas Kitchen, West Kirby
Proper Spanish tapas is the order of the day at this bar and restaurant in the seaside town. Treats include wild boar meatballs, Andalusian-style belly pork, triple-cooked potatoes in bravas sauce and flame-grilled dates wrapped in bacon. And the Spanish feel carries over into a drinks offer which includes Spanish gins, cava, sangria and even a sea salt beer.
95 Banks Rd, West Kirby, Wirral CH48 0RB, 0151 625 8111, thetapaskitchen.co.uk
CHESHIRE LIFE FAMILY DINING OF THE YEAR
Fox and Hounds, Sproston
Here’s a country pub where you’ll be pleased to while away a long Sunday lunch; the roast dinners are real favoruites. Elsewhere on the substantial menu, you’ll find a host of superior pub grub staples, a proper children’s menu and traditional pies which, the menu warns, will take 25 minutes cooking time. Worth the wait, by all accounts.
Holmes Chapel Road, Sproston, Crewe CW4 7LW, tel 01606 841180, www.foxandhoundssproston.co.uk
The Oakwood, Alderley Edge
The former Loch Fyne seafood restaurant became a northern outpost for the White Brasserie Company, which has Raymond Blanc on the board, and the local gourmands took it to their hearts. The offer is classy British pub grub and French brasserie favourites. We recommend the cheddar cheease soufflé, potted Cromer crab and slow -cooked Boeuf Bourguignon.
Brook Lane, SK9 7RU, tel 01625 587420, oakwoodalderleyedge.com
The Partridge, Stretton
Formerly the Hollow Tree, this characterful building underwent a £1m transformation to re-open last year as The Partridge, a country pub with rooms under the auspices of 16 Hospitality, responsible for The Swan in Tarporley. Modern British pub grub includes a steak and ale pie so big that the menu carries a warning, and a half-chicken in a basket.
Tarporley Rd, Warrington WA4 4LX, 01925 730848, www.thepartridgestretton.co.uk
For more details go to foodawards.cheshirelife.co.uk
Or search for the #CLFoodAwards on twitter for all the latest announcements