Cheshire Life Luncheon - The Menzies Pinewood Hotel, Handforth

PUBLISHED: 16:06 17 May 2010 | UPDATED: 21:43 21 October 2015

The Pinewood Hotel

The Pinewood Hotel

Cheshire Life guests enjoyed a perfect lunch at a charming 'airport hotel' with a character all its own <br/>WORDS BY RAY KING <br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

Hayley Dowson and Hazel FaidHayley Dowson and Hazel Faid

Airport hotels can be among the most soulless places on the planet. But a hotel near an airport, well, that’s something else again, for at that point the location becomes a bonus rather than an entire raison d’etre.

And that’s the thing about the Pinewood Hotel in Handforth. As general manager Nigel Mather puts it: ‘We are an airport hotel some of the time.’ It’s a position that makes complete sense, for the Pinewood - recently refurbished to four star status to the tune of more than £1 million by the Menzies Hotels group – stands only four miles from the terminal buildings at Manchester International Airport. But relaxing in the hotel’s secluded wooded garden, you’d hardly know it.

Built around a grand early 19th century house on the main road just to the north of the centre of the village – which, like Wilmslow and Poynton, resolutely chose to remain in Cheshire at the time of the big reorganisation of 1974 – the Pinewood has long enjoyed a location handy for enjoying the nearby Cheshire countryside and, a few stops up the railway line, the buzz of Manchester city centre, as much as its proximity to the airport. Hence the ambience is more in tune with people with quality time on their hands than those primarily ‘in transit’.

Guests at Cheshire Life’s June luncheon discovered this is particularly so when it comes to food and drink. With head chef Stephen Jarvis at the helm in the kitchen and a menu majoring in top class seasonal and local fare, the Menzies Pinewood boasts a charming and stylish destination restaurant in the oldest part of the building overlooking the garden through large Georgian windows.

Emma Gill with Janette SykesEmma Gill with Janette Sykes

We were greeted in the hotel’s lobby, which doubles as a comfortable, modern-furnished lounge equipped with a small bar, with striking red glass coupes of fresh, zingy Piper-Heidseick Brut and Rosé champagne, courtesy of Karen Burgess of First Drinks Ltd.

The array of delicious canapés included monkfish, pancetta and rosemary spiedini with lemon aioli; lemon and saffron chicken brochettes; chive pancakes with crème fraiche and red onion confit; black pudding with pea purée; parmesan and rosemary shortbreads with roast cherry tomato and feta and mini devilled crab cakes with tomato remoulade – an impressive showcase for the Pinewood as a venue for all kinds of commercial and social gatherings, not least, weddings.

Luncheon, served in the Chelford Suite, one of the hotel’s light and airy first floor function rooms, with tables beautifully decorated by Daisies Flowers, provided a delightful taste of traditional British seasonal cooking.

We started with a rustic, chunky and flavourful terrine of ham hock and apple served with a salad of crimson and golden roasted beetroot and a piquant piccalilli compote, the ham’s ideal foil.

Emma Green and Philip SmithEmma Green and Philip Smith

Matching a wine to the counterpointing saltiness of the ham, sweetness of the beetroot and spice of the piccalilli was no mean feat, but Matthew Clark’s expert Jon Aitken, who supplied and described lunch’s accompanying wines, came up with a full and rounded off-dry riesling kabinett from Mosel, which coped admirably.

The main course proved that when the ingredients are on song, simplicity rules. Meltingly tender roast rump of new season’s Cheshire lamb needed absolutely nothing more complicated than to be served with its own rosemary roasting juices, green beans and baby carrots and ably crafted gratin dauphinoise. A real treat – as was its wine partner and my kind of red, a rich black cherry and dark chocolate nuanced shiraz from one of Chile’s most respected producers, Errazuriz.

Dessert, served on a slate platter, was a springtime delight: lovely white chocolate mousse came alongside honey and saffron poached pear with fresh raspberries, raspberry coulis and an intricate chocolate lattice. Brown Brothers’ favourite ‘sticky’, Orange Muscat and Flora, provided the perfect match.

Cheshire Life luncheon menu

Head chef, Stephen Jarvis, with Ray King and Louise TaylorHead chef, Stephen Jarvis, with Ray King and Louise Taylor

To start Ham hock and apple terrine, roast beetroot salad, piccalilli compote
Riesling Kabinett, S A Prum, Mosel, Germany
To continue Roast rump of Cheshire lamb, gratin dauphinoise, spring vegetables, rosemary roasting juices
Errazuriz Shiraz, Max Reserva, Aconcagua, Chile
To finish White chocolate mousse, honey and saffron poached pear, fresh raspberries and coulis
Brown Brothers Late Harvest Orange Muscat andFlora, Victoria, Australia
Coffee and mints

Fact File

The Menzies Pinewood Hotel, 180 Wilmslow Road, Handforth, Cheshire SK9 3LG
Tel: 01625 529211;

Restaurant open: Lunch - Mon-Fri noon-2pm, Sun noon-3pm, closed Sat. Dinner Mon-Sat 6pm-9.30pm, Sun 6pm-9pm.

Kim Sharples,  Deborah Lacide,  Caroline Reeder and Paul HarnettyKim Sharples, Deborah Lacide, Caroline Reeder and Paul Harnetty

A La carte starters from £4.95; main courses from £14.94; sides £2.50; desserts £4.95.

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