Restaurant review - La Popote, Marton
PUBLISHED: 10:59 18 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:03 18 November 2016
Let's hear it for the charming French bistro La Popote in Marton where cooking takes centre stage, writes Janet Reeder
We arrive at La Popote on Sunday afternoon when the sun streams through the windows and the tinkling sounds of laughter reach us at bar from the dining room. It’s like we’ve been driving through the country lanes of France and have alighted on a Gallic gem, when in fact we’re in a village called Marton somewhere between Macclesfield and Congleton. But this is no less a delight than if it had been in the French Midi.
Every table is full but thankfully we have booked and opt to sit by the cosy fireplace drinks in hand while looking at a menu packed with the kinds of dishes you really do feel you want to eat.
In fact it turns out that many selections aren’t even on the menu but in the head of our charming host Lynne Janssen, a Scot who has spent decades with her talented Dutch chef husband Victor, working in the South African restaurants that won them awards and accolades. I learn all this by waiting for the one loo and reading the cuttings that have been mounted and displayed on the wall.
It’s eight and a half years since this French bistro was opened in its present spot and several since we wrote about it in Cheshire Life but we are happy to report that everything here is not only wonderful but the restaurant is positively thriving.
La Popote proves that with the right ingredients the independents can not only make it in the competitive culinary world, they can stand out like gold in a murky stream.
Too many entrepreneurial types are so concerned about the ‘brand’ these days they forget about the food, but here at La Popote, with cooking taking centre stage, they are doing everything so right that they are now in the process of adding an orangery to the original building to accommodate private diners and to cope with the demand for tables at weekends.
What makes everyone keep coming back? Well, firstly it is most definitely dishes that are big on flavour. From the scallops, £13.75, tasting as if they’d just been plucked from the sea, accompanied by a rich champagne sauce and adorned with a lump fish caviar, which we chose from one of the specials on the menu to the perfect pink unctuous Gressingham duck, £22.75 that came with a sweetly acidic red cabbage and fruity apple, reminding us of all that was good about autumn.
A starter of beetroot tarte tatin, £8.50, was a classic pairing of sweet beets and a hefty chunk of creamy goats cheese perched on crisp thin pastry, while a leek and potato roulade, £14.40, usually a light spring dish was transformed with the punchy flavours of warming tomato and strong cheese.
We uncorked a bottle of 2008 Kanu Shiraz from South Africa, £29.50, reasoning that given the couple’s background as restaurateurs in South Africa this would be something special. It didn’t disappoint - peppery with a hint of liquorice, it was able to hold its own against all these strong competing flavours.
‘Great choice,’ Lynne said as she showed us the label, causing us to puff up a little with pleasure.
Lynne has very much the front of house Maitre d’ role and this involves her setting fire to crepes from a hostess trolley in the middle of the dining room which in itself is a piece of theatre.
We were tempted to have Crepes Lynne from the pudding menu but we couldn’t resist a chocolate fondant, £6.50, oozing its dark molten Valrhona centre over a creamy ice cream, or another special Paris Brest, £7, light choux pastry crammed with cream service with morish melting chocolate sauce, both stupendous.
In the end we had to drag ourselves away with waves and promises to return, which we are thoroughly convinced that we will.
La Popote, Manchester Road, Marton, Macclesfield, SK11 9HF. 01260 224785 www.la-popote.co.uk