Cheshire Life Luncheon - Residence Restaurant and Bar, Nantwich
PUBLISHED: 10:53 20 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:44 20 February 2013
Nantwich's Residence Restaurant and Bar was the venue for the latest Cheshire Life lunch. <br/>Emma Mayoh pulled up a chair<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
Ben Rafferty is like the cat that got the cream. The 40-year-old acquisitions expert has worked all over the world opening bars for some of the world's biggest blue chip companies. But it was a Grade Two listed architectural gem in Nantwich that caught his eye.
And although it took him a few years and two attempts, in 2007 he finally got his hands on the 400-year-old building he had longed for.
Ben, who is now sole managing director of Residence Restaurant and Bar, first took it on with business partner Paul Newman. The venue has won several awards since then, including the Best Food and Drink Venue 2010 in the recent Visit Chester and Cheshire Annual Awards and Ben is now keen to make The Residence the best it can be.
He said: It had been empty for two years before when we took it on but we really wanted to get it. Its in a conservation area, it is Grade Two listed and I think people had been scared of taking it on. Its an acquisitions nightmare on paper.
But I just loved it. The building is so beautiful and it was something I didnt want to miss. Im so pleased with how successful everything has been and were now looking forward to some more exciting projects in the future.
His love for the building is unsurprising. It has a decadent interior that was refurbished by Bernard Carroll, the designer responsible for Piccolino, Sugar Lounge and Ampersand in Manchester city centre. The building has been a bank, a political club and a townhouse and was once the official residence - hence the name - of former Lord Mayor of London, Sir Edmund Wright.
Today, it was hosting specially invited ladies who were there to sample the culinary delights created by head chef Paul Mercandelli and his team. The 28-year-old first worked here in one of the buildings former guises, when it was Peppers Restaurant. He has worked in several kitchens in Nantwich as well as having a brief stint running his own business.
Paul encourages young talent, including helping school children to find out more about catering, and has enlisted local producers to feature on his menu. Nothing comes from more than 30 miles away; lamb from Sandbach and fruit and vegetables from local growers including at Delamere.
Thats what Nantwich is all about for me, said Paul. Its a town that is full of small, independent business and we want to make sure we support of many of those small, independent and local producers as we can.
It not only helps us be sustainable but it is also some of the best food you can get, right here in Cheshire. There is no need for us to look elsewhere.'
Pauls menu did certainly not disappoint. Ladies were greeted with elegant flutes of a Bach cava rose from one of Spains most famous wine producing areas, Penedes, to the west of Barcelona, and one of three tipples on the day provided by Rodney Densem Wines. A refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail - the cocktail bar has earned itself a good reputation - was enjoyed by the drivers in the group.
We started with fresh king prawn and monkfish skewers, courtesy of Westport and the perfect accompaniment to the summers day. It was served with melt-in-the-mouth samphire grass that had been delicately scented with lemon and black pepper. Guests had a choice of a chenin blanc from the highest vineyard above sea level in Argentina and a Dudley Stone cabernet shiraz full of dark fruit flavours.
The main, a breast of corn fed chicken on a sweet potato dauphinoise was received well and was celebrated with happy mumblings from everyone at our table. It was served with some seasonal green beans and a delicious, salty and crisp pancetta.
But head chef Paul knew his audience well and saved a crowd pleaser for the final course. The Residences cheesecake is its bestseller and Paul and his kitchen team change the recipe every day to keep people coming back for more.
Todays choice was a duo of chocolate cheesecake made with white and milk chocolate. It came with a with a rich dollop of Baileys ice cream from Cheshire Farm Ice Cream, less than 15 miles away in Tattenhall, a skilful finish to a well-executed lunch.
Residence Restaurant & Bar,
9 Mill Street, Nantwich, CW5 5ST.
Tel: 01270 629100
Cheshire Life Ladies Lunch Menu
King prawn and monkfish skewer on a bed of freshly cut samphire grass scented with lemon and black pepper
Breast of corn fed chicken on sweet potato dauphinoise with summer green beans encased in crisp pancetta
Homemade duo of chocolate cheesecake made with white and milk chocolate serves with Bailey's Cheshire Farm Ice Cream