Cheshire Life Luncheon - Cabbage Hall, Little Budworth

PUBLISHED: 18:05 18 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:09 20 February 2013

Cabbage Hall

Cabbage Hall

Robert Kisby's cooking and the intriguing setting of Cabbage Hall make for a delightful dining experience<br/>WORDS BY RAY KING<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu

To start
New season asparagus from Richard Wilding
Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2009, Chile

To Continue
Regs Goosnargh confit duck, red wine jus
Caliterra Merlot Reserve, Chile 2008

To finish
Classic lemon tart

Fact file

Cabbage Hall Restaurant & Bar, Forest Road, Little Budworth, Tarporley, Cheshire. CW6 9ES.
Tel: 01829 760292;

Restaurant: Open Mon-Sat noon-10pm; Sun noon-8pm.

Bespoke Menu starters from 7.95; mains from 15.95; desserts 5.95.
Tailors Menu 6pm-7pm; two courses 15.95. Designer Platters from 29.95. Lunchtime One Piece menu: dishes from 8.95.

Despite the top drawer fruit and vegetables grown in this particularly bounteous corner of Cheshire, Cabbage Hall, Great Budworth, has nothing to do with brassicas. In fact the name derives from scraps of cloth sold here in Victorian times.

And, given the grandeur of the Duke of Westminsters stately pile just down the road at Eaton, using the term hall for this modest former pub by the roadside of the main A49 is, shall we say, stretching it a bit.

That is not to say, however, that Cabbage Hall in its current incarnation Restaurant & Bar and domain of accomplished chef-patron Robert Kisby wont treat you like a lord. And, as guests at Cheshire Lifes luncheon discovered, its vegetables not so much cabbage as asparagus as it turned out are pretty darned good too.

Kisby, former member of the late Gilbert Lefvres Michelin-starred brigade at Manchesters Midland Hotel, made a name for himself in the city by putting the Charles Hall Room at the Bridgewater Hall on the culinary map and then doing the same at Le Mont on the top floors of the iconic glass landmark, Urbis. Doing both at the same time for a period was, in retrospect, quite remarkable.

Then, a couple of years ago Kisby arrived at the extensively remodelled Cock o Barton in Malpas and, in culinary terms, proved himself cock of the walk by winning widespread critical acclaim including Best Newcomer in Cheshire Lifes 2007 Food & Wine Awards.

Succeeding another of Manchesters more flamboyant chef-restaurateurs, Francis Carroll, at Cabbage Hall, Kisby has as he did at Malpas cultivated local suppliers to great effect and their superb produce is deservedly highlighted on all his various menus. He has also, following quite extensive decorative refurbishment, stamped his own style on the look of the place. Some of the gilt furnishings still wouldnt look out of place in Madame de Pompadours boudoir but much of the decadence of the previous regime has been very tastefully toned down and the introduction of striking prints gives all the dining areas, arranged in split levels around the attractive bar, a pleasing contemporary ambience.

Guests were greeted with elegant flutes of champagne cocktail flavoured with raspberry framboise and deftly crafted canaps in Cabbage Halls enclosed back garden before stepping back inside for the main event at tables delightfully decorated with blooms from Gaynor Jones Flower Room in nearby Tarporley.

We started with new seasons asparagus grown by Richard Wilding virtually in the next field- and what a treat this taste of the English spring really is. The deliciously flavoured spears came wrapped in Woodalls robust Cumbrian air-dried ham together with a perfect poached then pan-fried locally sourced egg and choron sauce, a variation of hollandaise tinted with tomato pure. The accompanying white wine, supplied by Jon Campbell of DeFine Wines just down the road in Sandiway, was the classic partner for asparagus: a lovely sappy, green fruit laden sauvignon blanc, though not from Frances Loire region but from the highly respected Caliterra winery in Chile.

The main course had seen Kisby and his talented head chef, Mike Brooke, who made many friends during his long stint at Pecks Restaurant, near Congleton, take an excursion over the Lancashire border to source their Goosnargh duck, raised by Reg Johnson, star of the Ribble Valley. It was presented in the modern French style as confit duck leg on puy lentils and accompanied by sweet Chantenay carrots, roasted beetroot and a rich red wine jus. The Caliterra estate also provided the red wine: a reserve merlot from the 2008 vintage offering bags of smooth and concentrated red fruit.

Dessert brought another French classic, skilfully executed: a delicious wedge of lemon tart, the balance of sweetness and citrussy bite absolutely spot on, garnished with fresh raspberries. Front of the house staff marshalled by Paul Connolly, former sommelier at the Chester Grosvenors Arkle Restaurant, did us proud throughout.

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