Cheshire Life Luncheon - Ciro's Brasserie at the Chester Grosvenor Pulford

PUBLISHED: 16:08 02 August 2011 | UPDATED: 21:33 21 October 2015

Stuffed saddle of Holker Farm lamb, fondant potato and baby vegetables, Rosemary scented juices.

Stuffed saddle of Holker Farm lamb, fondant potato and baby vegetables, Rosemary scented juices.

A memorable, summery luncheon menu impressed Cheshire Life guests at Ciro's Brasserie at the Grosvenor Pulford WORDS BY RAY KING PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

The restaurant.The restaurant.

The corner of Cheshire hemmed in between the Peckforton Hills and the Welsh border exudes a unique charm. Of all the pretty villages dotted either side of the River Dee, Rossett on the Flintshire bank is probably the best known, but picturesque Pulford - in Cheshire but only just (even the name is derived from the Welsh) – boasts a castle, a fine church and one of the most celebrated hotels in the county.

The four star Grosvenor Pulford Hotel and Spa, the very first building one encounters after passing the cross of St George sign on the road from Rossett, presents an impressive initial glimpse of England with its handsome 18th Century brick and sandstone facade now providing the backdrop for dozens of weddings a year.

It began life as a rather stately roadside inn which, given that Pulford’s entire population numbered just 395 at the time of the 2001 Census, must have enjoyed a very substantial passing trade before Harold and Sue Nelson began their grand design almost 20 years ago. The award-winning hotel now has 73 luxury bedrooms, up-to-the minute conferencing facilities, impressive banqueting suites and an 18-metre indoor swimming pool, yet remains an admirable, independent family-run enterprise.

The last time the Grosvenor Pulford hosted a Cheshire Life luncheon, the Nelsons – also owners of the highly regarded Pheasant Inn at Burwardsley and Bear’s Paw in Warmingham – had just unveiled their £2m Kasia Spa, which added a whole new and sumptuous dimension to the hotel’s many other attractions. For the magazine’s August 2011 luncheon we had no such excuse other than the sheer delight of sampling executive chef Leigh Myers’ exemplary cooking in the striking surroundings of Ciro’s Brasserie.

One gets an impression of just how grand the former pub must have been when, having crossed the ornate threshold, one emerges int Nelson’s Bar, resplendent with oak panelling and beamed ceilings, which itself has an enviable reputation for gastro pub style food and fine traditional ales.

Venture a little further in and one encounters the exotica of Ciro’s, designed to look like and provide the ambience of the courtyard of a Mediterranean villa. Here, amid the greenery and the statuary, we were greeted with flutes of unmistakably rich Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin Yellow Label from one of the noblest of the great Champagne houses, courtesy of Steve Leonard, managing director of Rodney Densem Wines and Penny Still of Moet Hennessy, and canapés that truly reflected the season: shots of chilled tomato consommé and kebabs of fresh summer fruits.

Despite the brasserie’s Romanesque arches, Mediterranean feel, the range of pasta and risotto dishes and the Italian language on the a la carte menu, Ciro’s is far from being an archetypal Italian restaurant. In fact Leigh, schooled under Paul Heathcote, Nico Ladenis and Nigel Haworth, has devised a modern European menu majoring in excellent local and seasonal produce and the Cheshire Life luncheon provided an excellent taster of his winning style.

The starter cannelloni for instance, didn’t feature pasta at all; rather fresh salmon was presented in a smoked salmon envelope and finished off in delightful summer fashion with chive crème fraiche, caviar and peas and salad shoots.

The main course provided an English seasonal classic with stuffed saddle of tender and flavourful Holker Farm lamb accompanied by a expertly fashioned fondant potato, dainty baby vegetables and a lovely rosemary jus.

Interestingly RDW provided French wines with both courses (an old world revisited trend in the making, I reckon); a white and red from family-owned Chateau Lamothe de Haux sourced from excellent terroir in the Premières Cotes de Bordeaux. The former, a 60-40 blend of sauvignon blanc and muscadelle proved delightfully aromatic with hints of citrus fruit while the red, 80-20 merlot-cabernet sauvignon, offered bags of ripe black fruit with nuances of spicy vanilla oak.

Leigh’s pudding, a hugely portioned, magnificently retro English strawberry trifle enlivened by sprinklings of toasted almonds, crispy meringue and chocolate shavings also had a French partner, a quite delicious honey sweet but uncloying dessert wine from Cadillac in Bordeaux.


Cheshire Life Luncheon

To start
Cannelloni of Smoked and Fresh Salmon, Chive Crème Fraiche, Caviar, Micro Shoots.
Filius de Lamothe Blanc, 2009, France.

To continue
Stuffed Saddle of Holker Farm Lamb, Fondant Potato, Baby Vegetables, Rosemary Scented Juices.
Filius de Lamothe Rouge, 2009, France.

To finish
English Strawberry Trifle, Toasted Almonds, Crispy Meringue Drops, Chocolate Shavings.
Chateau Manos 2009, Cadillac, France

Coffee and homemade fudge.

Fact file

The Grosvenor Pulford Hotel & Spa, Wrexham Road, Pulford, Chester C4 9DG. Tel 01244 570560;

Ciro’s Brasserie: Lunch Mon-Fri  noon-2pm; Dinner Mon-Sat  6pm-9pm (10pm Fri/Sat). Sunday Carvery Lunch noon-3pm; Dinner 6pm-9pm. A la carte starters from £5.10; main course pasta and risotto from £9.60; main courses from £15.50; desserts £6.25.

The print version of this article appeared in the August 2011 issue of Cheshire Life 

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