Cheshire Life Luncheon - Ranulph Restaurant, Crewe Hall Hotel and Spa.
PUBLISHED: 12:39 04 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:08 20 February 2013
The latest Cheshire Life lunch was held in Sir Ranulph Crewe's dining room which is now <br/>a stunning restaurant. Ray King reports
Cheshire Life luncheon menu
Crab and tomato verrine, cucumber jelly, lemon espuma
Pressed free range chicken, foie gras and wild mushroom terrine, onion confiture, toasted brioche, petit leaf, truffle emulsion
Roast halibut, baby shallots, spinach, confit cherry tomato, Cafe de Paris butter
Lemon textures, coriander ice cream
Coffee and homemade petit fours
Crewe Hall Hotel and Spa, Weston Road, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 6UZ; Tel: 01270 253333; www.qhotels.co.uk.
Ranulph Restaurant open Wed-Sat 7pm-9.30pm; Sun noon-2.30pm. Market Menu available Wed/Thu 30; A la carte available Fri/Sat 45.
The Mayor of Crewe, Councillor Jacquie Weatherill was among the guests at Cheshire Lifes April Luncheon amid the magnificent surroundings of Crewe Hall Hotel and Spa.
The presence of the first citizen was entirely appropriate, since Sir Ranulph Crewe, who built the original house between 1616 and 1636, gave his name to the town etched upon the solid gold and enamel chain of office worn by the mayor. Said to have been the son of a Nantwich tanner, Sir Ranulph studied law and rose to become Lord Chief Justice of England and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Theres social mobility for you. He even survived a spell in the Tower of London, keeping his head when all around, others were losing theirs.
The great man also gave his name to the flagship two-AA Rosette Ranulph Restaurant where the new Market Menu was introduced to luncheon guests by hotel general manager Ian Pollock.
We had first gathered amid the period splendour the Sheridan Lounge with its ornate ceiling, grand marble fireplace and intricately carved, almost black woodwork. The room, originally designed as Lord Crewes dining room when the hall was rebuilt - at a cost of more than 10m in todays money - following a disastrous fire in 1866, provided a spectacular setting for welcoming flutes of Thomas Mitchell sparkling wine from Victorias Goulburn Valley and appetising canaps of truffled cream-stuffed cherry tomatoes and croutons with cheese and mushrooms.
The Ranulph restaurant is an altogether more intimate space and gifted head chef Mark Powell, 29, seized the opportunity to present a series of excellent dishes from the Market Menu that both epitomised springtime and demonstrated the serious talents of the kitchen brigade.
We began with a deftly assembled ameuse bouche comprising a scoop of lovely fresh crab and tomato served alongside a shot glass of cucumber jelly and lemon foam, an innovative combination of delicate and delicious flavours; an ideal appetiser. The starter proper once again combined thoughtful presentation with an array of harmonious flavours: a terrine of pressed free range chicken, foie gras and wild mushrooms served with sweet-savoury onion marmalade, light toasted brioche, blobs of beautifully subtle truffle emulsion and a garnish of baby leaves.
The main course was a springtime stunner. Exquisite roast halibut, pure white, deliciously moist and delicately flavoured, came on a bed of wilted spinach and partnered by perfectly cooked baby shallots and confit cherry tomato. The dessert was also very special, demonstrating an admirable lightness of touch and attention to detail, with lemon textures comprising an ultra-light lemon roulade, silky syllabub and excellent coriander ice cream.
Every course was stylishly presented and impeccably served by a front of the house team led by Verity Adams. Two wines were offered, one white, one red, both top notch. Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009, from New Zealands famed Marlborough region, delivered crisp, refreshing gooseberry fruit with a characteristic stab of lime; Castillo de Clarijo Reserva 2004 proved a real smoothie from Rioja, packed with rich, ripe strawberry fruit and vanilla spice.
Afterwards we joined a tour of the house, taking in the grandeur of the old hall with its antiquities and four-poster rooms that provide a much sought-after venue for dozens of weddings a year, and the ultra modern events and conferencing suites, state of the art spa facilities and modern brasserie - fruits of a 13.5m investment by Q Hotels - which, together with excellent transport links by rail, road and air, has created a major destination for both leisure and business sectors.