Restaurant review - Residence, Nantwich
PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 November 2015 | UPDATED: 13:03 19 January 2016
Eight years after opening in a Georgian mansion house, Nantwich's Residence restaurant remains a class act, writes Louise Allen-Taylor
Not too many of Cheshire’s eateries merit a mention in the tome of architectural excellence which is Pevsner’s Buildings of England.
Residence in Nantwich is one such, the grade II* listed building described by Pevsner as ‘a fine, spacious five-bay house of 1736 with segment-headed windows, a one-bay pediment supported by plain giant pilasters and a tall parapet with large urns.’
If that sentence proves a little indigestible, fear not, the food is anything but. And the architectural delights of Residence, with due deference to Mr Pevsner, speak for themselves. We arrive at dusk to find this glorious old pile - which has served as a home, a bank and a Liberal club over the centuries - lit up enticingly. The elegant sparkle continues through the bar and into the restaurant, where ornate crystal chandeliers, mirrors down each side of the room and some beautiful fabrics contrive to create the effect of a stylish, yet slightly blingy French salon.
The lighting is sufficiently ‘romantic’ however, for us to be grateful when our waiter Jean Pierre produces a pair of torch-cum-magnifying glasses to help illuminate the menu. At the heart of that menu is a grill offering 28-day-aged steak, with a changing roster of rare breeds. Keen carnivores should note that there are deals to be had on Surf ‘n’ Turf Thursdays at Residence, while canny tipplers may prefer BYO Wednesdays: bring your own wine and the restaurant will chill it and serve it without corkage.
I choose a starter of chilli and lime king prawns with saffron, aioli and ponzu dressing (£7.95) and get a plateful of unexpectedly complex and intriguing flavours which definitely bucks the usual chilli-prawn clichés. Across the table, a cheese and chive soufflé (£5.95) is another superior take on a familiar theme: light and fluffy, delicately flavoured and given a slight astringent edge by a beetroot salad.
By way of extra nibbles we order pork crackling sticks with apple compote (£2.95). A mini-bucketful of mouth-watering piggy goodness with a jammy dip, this is the kind of thing I could munch all night, were it not also the noisiest food ever, thus rendering conversation impossible.
Sticking with the hog and fruit theme for the main, I choose a pork tenderloin fillet (£13.95) with thyme-scented pommes anna, savoy cabbage and apple purée - luscious divots of pork which are as tender as the name suggests. My companion’s lamb rump (£15.95) is another quality cut of meat, served with a busy combination of herb crust, roast garlic, niçoise potato, green beans, tomato and capers.
We pick a suitably fruity bottle of New Zealand Mamaku Sauvignon Blanc (£23.95) from a wine list which is an object lesson in user-friendliness: concise, broken down by grape variety and with a few good affordable options.
A dessert of white chocolate and Bailey’s cheesecake (£5.95) is dense in texture, long on taste, while my companion goes for the healthier option of marinated pineapple with citrus sorbet and kaffir lime (£4.95).
Despite the grandeur of the surroundings, there is an informality about the ambience of Residence, with a thrum of conversation from the diners and a gentle soundtrack of what sounds like 1980s R&B seeping in from the bar, which is doing a brisk trade for a Thursday evening. Though 9 Mill Street looks like a building straight out of a Jane Austen novel, these days it’s telling a very 21st century story. w
Residence is at 9 Mill Street, Nantwich CW5 5ST, 01270 629100, www.residence.uk.com