Restaurant review - Faulkner Bar and Kitchen, Hoole
PUBLISHED: 00:00 24 March 2017
Calling time on pub culture? Not at the The Faulkner Bar and Kitchen in Hoole which is bucking the trend thanks to fine ales, good cooking and an award-winning marketing strategy, as Janet Reeder discovers.
I wonder what the new generation of craft-beer loving, self-styled foodie crowd who frequent the pubs of today would make of the boozer of the past.
The man-cave with its nicotine-stained walls and meat pie, pickled eggs and crisps ‘food offer’, must seem pretty Neanderthal to those who’ve grown up with gastro pubs.
Fast forward and with the ban on smoking and supermarkets supplying alcohol at bargain basement prices, the pub of today has been forced to re-invent itself as more than just a place to sup a pint and swap tall tales and those that haven’t have had to call time on their trade forever.
Happily, this is not a fate that has befallen the thriving Faulkner Bar and Kitchen in Hoole, which now holds the award for Best Marketed Pub in the UK.
Darren and Kelly Lea who run this charming local have been recognised for the marketing strategy which has helped revive the pub’s fortunes, to establish it as popular hub serving outstanding locally-sourced food. It has also become the first in Cheshire to receive Visit England’s new pub quality accreditation.
The Faulkner Bar and Kitchen is living proof that the new breed of pub can thrive as a place for families, ladies who lunch and the more traditional ale drinker.
I went along in the guise as ‘a lady who lunches’ with Cheshire Life columnist Diane Cooke. We booked for 1.30pm, as we wanted to shop in lovely Chester before heading to Hoole, which recently won best local centre in the British High Street Awards beating off 900 hopefuls.
Thankfully, we had reserved a table, as the place was packed full of diners enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. Our table faced a shiny bar and walls painted in heritage greys. There’s a larger dining area too with a statement wallcovering on one wall and red brick on another. The effect is funky living room meets local pub.
We started with an excellent griddled halloumi, which came lightly charred with a well judged dressing of pomegranate salsa and warmed honey (£6.50), while a starter of tempura king prawns, demonstrated fine kitchen skills (so often does tempura manifest itself as soggy thick batter), the hit of accompanying pickled vegetables added a fresh modern slant to the dish.
From the light bites section of the menu I chose a beetroot risotto which was served with crumbled goats cheese and roasted pine nuts (£8.95) and while I loved the flavour combinations I was disappointed that the dish had been overcooked. I’m happy to report that Diane’s Moroccan spiced chicken skewers (£9.25) not only looked pretty, sprinkled with harissa and served on a bed of salad but were moist and light. To finish, we shared a creamy citrussy lemon tart that had been given a quirky accompaniment of a gin and tonic sorbet and spent the rest of the afternoon over a bottle of prosecco enjoying the vibe of this neighbourhood gem and wondering what the pub goer of old would have made of us.
the Faulkner Bar and Kitchen, 48 Faulkner Street, Chester, CH2 3BE. 01244 328195