Cheshire Life Luncheon - The Residence, Nantwich
PUBLISHED: 00:51 20 June 2013 | UPDATED: 21:36 21 October 2015
Fine food, good service and elegant surroundings added up to a real treat for Cheshire Life luncheon guests at the Residence in Nantwich. Words by Ray King Photography by John Cocks
Take a man with an expert eye for a venue, a Georgian listed building in the centre of one of Cheshire’s most historic towns and liberally sprinkle with characteristic bling from one of the north west’s top interior designers...what a heady cocktail for the creation of a successful award-winning restaurant and bar.
And cocktail is an appropriate word, for as Ben Rafferty, managing director of The Residence in Nantwich puts it, the hit Tom Cruise movie Cocktail was wowing cinema audiences round the world when he ‘took the leap of faith’ to become a cocktail bartender back in 1988. The former pot-washer began his five-year career of shaking and stirring at Mulligan’s Bar in the former Four Seasons Hotel near Manchester Airport then headed for the four corners of the globe including Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia plying his trade and “loving every minute”.
Thence Ben began ascending the management ladder in a multitude of roles, finally overseeing acquisitions for a major company and being involved in 36 new site openings and the purchase of 23. He launched the Residence with a former business partner in 2007 and, despite the economic convulsions of at least five of the succeeding years, has steered the enterprise to its best ever year, picking up an impressive haul of prestigious hospitality awards along the way.
As guests at Cheshire Life’s luncheon discovered as they crossed the threshold of this wonderful 18th Century town house (Residence is so-called because Sir Edmund Wright, local merchant, philanthropist and 1641 Lord Mayor of London once lived in a house on the site), the fusion of classical Georgian style with that of the late Second Elizabethan era is dramatic to say the least. Given the restraints that come with the building’s listed status, designer Bernard Carroll, who first knocked our socks off with Reform in Manchester, produced a striking rendezvous with a modern yet elegant cocktail bar opening into a magnificent, mirrored dining room hung with luxurious drapes and elaborate glittering chandeliers.
On this impressive stage, Ben has constantly sought to evolve the business to keep abreast of fashionable trends. Specialist pastry and sushi chefs were brought in to train staff ahead of the introduction of afternoon tea at the Residence and the landmark building’s first floor function suite is a popular venue for a range of events and special occasions, not least weddings, for which it is licensed for ceremonies to be conducted.
After enjoying cocktails and canapés comprising smoked salmon, cream cheese and caviar blinis, butter pastries with black olive tapenade and mini open rolls with roast beef, horseradish and mushrooms in the bar, guests took their places beneath the chandeliers for what turned out to be an excellent spring luncheon from head chef Matthew Piggott and his team.
It began with a refreshing and delicate combination of white crab meat spiked with chilli and lime, cleverly served in hollowed out cucumber and presented with its pickled middle and a zesty spiced aioli. The accompanying wine - a sophisticated white Burgundy - supplied and described by Steve Percival of Nantwich’s own Rodney Densem Wines made a delightful match.
The main course was a seasonal treat, partnering generously thick slices of absolutely delicious, tender and flavoursome rump of Welsh lamb with an expertly fashioned fondant potato, dainty broccoli, sundried tomato and red onion tart and a rich, silk port reduction. Once again the wine was the ideal partner: ripe, smooth pinot noir from Chile.
Dessert was a chocoholic’s dream. Rich, dark and velvety chocolate delice on a perfect soft biscuit base came with a pot of ripe summer berries and a very well judged cumin and caramel sauce. And the wine pairing was made in chocolate heaven – the intense rich fruitiness delivered by California’s acclaimed Elysium Black Muscat.
Old Sir Edmund, who managed to humour both Charles I and Parliament in his time, would be pleased.
Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu
Anglesey crab, lime and chilli cucumber roll with spiced aioli
Louis Latour Macon-Lugny ‘Les Genièvres’ 2011, France
Lamb rump, herb beignet, fondant potato, broccoli, sundried tomato and red onion tart, Port reduction.
Explorer Pinot Noir, Chile
Chocolate delice, cumin and caramel sauce
Andrew Quady Elysium Black Muscat, California