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Cheshire Life Luncheon - At the Hollows, Hoole, Chester

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:48 09 May 2016

Cheshire Life Luncheon - At the Hollows, Hoole, Chester

Cheshire Life Luncheon - At the Hollows, Hoole, Chester

Archant

At the Hollows in Hoole is all about great times with fine wines, food and good company, writes Janet Reeder

Could Hoole be Chester’s Boho district? At the Hollows certainly proved to be the perfect place for Cheshire Life’s ‘men in business’ lunch...ideal to loosen ties and enjoy the hospitality of Kingdom Thenga and his team at this superb restaurant.

The venue was opened two years ago, hot on the heels of Kingdom’s success with his Suburbs bar and is wowing diners with the variety and deliciousness of its selection of small plates.

‘It’s how I eat when I go out,’ says Kingdom, who has harnessed the excellent cooking skills of chef Parth Bhatt to the task.

‘I did a lot of research before opening The Hollows to see what’s out there and I think what we’ve done is try to create something a little different here.

‘It’s all about social eating, dining together in a relaxed atmosphere and as a team we’ve been working together to make this happen.’

Doing things differently is what this lively venue is all about and this extends to the wine. Not content to present diners with classic French and Italian vintages, sommelier Urcono Garcia Hernandez, aka the wittily dubbed ‘Cino Noir’, guides us all through the extensive range from around the world, supplied by Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines.

The lunch starts conventionally enough with a delicious Fili Extra Dry Prosecco, from Italy, naturally, as we gather in the Suburbs next door, the sort of neighbourhood bar that would easily fit in with the more chic independent venues of London’s Primrose Hill or Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

However, once seated in the dining area we are presented with glasses of Sula Dindori Viognier Reserve from India, not a place you’d normally associate with wine. The maker is from California and he’s packed in enough sunshine for this to be a dry but fruity accompaniment to some of the first dishes to arrive on the table, notably oysters served with oyster mayonnaise, salsa verde, lemon, bacon, puffed barley and pork crackling. This complicated sounding dish was enjoyed for its freshness and intriguing, complex taste and texture. Then roasted focaccia, tomato and pepper tapenade and mozarella packed with huge Mediterranean flavours, plus lamb riblets, sweet potato, feta and green beans with fresh mint which was hearty and meaty. This was followed by beef shortrib, pineapple and onion chutney, braised shallot - the kind of dish that sorted out the men from the boys.

Other highlights included Kidderton Ash, slowroasted tomato, fermented shallots and honey; kale, apple, radish and hazelnuts; crispy tenderstem broccoli, blue cheese; carrot, coconut and lime, violet potatoes and black garlic. The dishes kept on coming, all packed with interesting combinations of flavour and texture.

Even guests with the biggest of appetites were starting to flag as dishes of tempura soft shell crab, ceviche of vegetables and alioli and steamed oysters topped with spring onions, toasted hazelnuts and oyster jus made an appearance. But they rallied manfully to polish off chicken and crispy potato poutine, roasting juices, spring onions, gruyere as the chefs in the kitchen gave us a fantastic display of their cooking skills.

This was a menu that demonstrated huge imagination and flair. We loved it! Many of us stayed late into the afternoon, turning it into the kind of lingering lunch so beloved of our continental counterparts.

At the Hollows, 20 Charles St Hoole, Chester CH2 3AZ, 01244 310245, www.atthehollows.co.uk

Opening Times

12noon-12am every day

Lunch & dinner

Small plates intended for sharing start at £3.95 for toasted focaccia, tomato and pepper tapenade and mozarella to £7.25 for lamb riblets, sweet potato, feta and green beans

To eat

Seared tuna, tomato tartare, pickled and fresh chillies, wasabi mayonnaise

Kidderton ash, slow roasted tomato, fermented shallots and honey; kale, apple, radish and hazelnuts; crispy tenderstem broccoli, blue cheese; - carrot, coconut and lime, violet potatoes and black garlic

Tempura soft shell crab, ceviche of vegetables and alioli; - lamb riblets, sweet potato, feta and green beans

Beef shortrib, pineapple and onion chutney, braised shallot

Coley, kale, mozzarella, tomato and pepper

Redwine poached pear, caramelised almonds, liquorice ice-cream and lemon crème fraiche

To drink

Fili Extra Dry Prosecco - Italy

Sula Dindori Voignier Reserve - India

Chateau Ksara ‘Le Prieure - Lebanon

Monsoon Valley Late Harvest Chenin Blanc - Thailand

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