Parade with Aiden Byrne - the £499 menu at Chester Races
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 July 2019
At £499, the menu from top chef Aiden Byrne at Parade is the most expensive in Cheshire - but is it worth the price tag?
The official invitation arrives in the post. There's a folder containing our itinerary, our badges and a valet car park pass. Welcome to the world of the £499 menu, the most expensive in Cheshire... if not the UK.
Aiden Byrne, Head Chef at the celebrated MCR restaurant in Manchester and Church Green Lymm has been recruited by Chester Racecourse to up the dining stakes with the exclusive Parade concept. It's so exclusive in fact that it's 'invitation only' and only after you've been issued your invite do you get to pay upwards of £499 for the privilege of spending a race day in uber-luxe surroundings.
Chester Races have clearly pulled out all the stops to make this an unforgettable experience, with design, indulgence and impeccable service as well as fine dining on the menu, and they've added 'anticipation' into the mix too, so that following the arrival of the invitation, we receive details of the six course menu and canapés that Aiden has devised for our race day.
This isn't any old invitation, this is a Parade invitation and makes you feel as close to royal as possible without actually being in the House of Windsor.
Parade is a specially constructed area featuring a summer garden roof bar and viewing terrace. Hospitality design specialist Michelle Derbyshire has been brought in to work her magic, as the woman responsible for swanky restaurant projects like Australasia and Grand Pacific and first impressions are of feminine elegance: a mix of blush pinks, dramatic wallcoverings and a glittering bar.
The pièce de résistance though is the location - it is a luxurious trackside venue and we have the best ever view alongside the finishing post and as the day is fine we make our way onto the ground floor terrace, just a nosebag away from the track, and join the rest of the guests at the 'starting blocks' - or as they call it: the Laurent Perrier Rose champagne reception.
Aiden's menu strikes the perfect balance between fresh summer flavours and indulgence so an amuse-bouche of a crisp chicken skin is served with a rich fois gras and parmesan mousse. The vegetarian version pairs a potato crisp with a delicate onion and parmesan mousse. Cauliflower cheese croquettes, creamy mouthfuls of cheese laced with the fragrance of truffle, and Argentinian prawn tempura and yuzu mayonnaise (there's a vegetarian version of tempura broccoli) follow.
We next enjoy the most perfect, straight-from-the-oven sourdough with a roasted chicken butter that's ridiculously light and yet creamy. There's a Ribblesdale goat's cheese mousse and slices of Coppa ham with onions that has amazing depth of flavour and texture.
The next course, a Textel lamb cutlet, is a thing of beauty. This especially lean meat is cooked perfectly pink, while the vegetarian alternative, stuffed morels served with asparagus, has a fleshy density and richness.
For pudding we are served chocolate delice with raspberries, raspberry sorbet and hazelnuts, a classic combination that lives up to all expectations.
Lunch over, it's time to peruse our personalised race cards and cheer on the winners from the perfect perspective of the summer roof garden bar - and the indulgence doesn't stop there. As the meeting continues we are served coffee with a mini Manchester tart, followed by cocktails and a cheese course.
There's a moment when I decide I need my make up touching up and so avail myself of the services of a make-up artist who is stationed in the ladies' loos specially for that purpose!
It's hard to drag yourself away, and we don't have to, as Parade continues into the evening with a DJ and cocktail mixologists transforming the space into a chi-chi Chester night spot.
You can acquire additional information and request to enter the application process for badges for Parade with Aiden Byrne via Kate Dawson: firstname.lastname@example.org