Restaurant review - The Church Green, Lymm
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 December 2016
Louise Allen-Taylor revisits The Church Green in Lymm, the venue which enticed Cheshire Life Chef of the Year Aiden Byrne back to the north.
It’s eight years since Aiden Byrne caused headlines in the catering world by relinquishing the job of head chef at the Dorchester Grill to take over a pub in Lymm.
Since then, there has been his launch of Manchester House, vying to bring a Michelin star back to the city (not yet, sadly); there have been TV appearances, making Aiden one of the more recognisable faces of modern British cuisine; and there have been awards, not least Chef of the Year in the 2016 Cheshire Life Food and Drink Awards.
But what of the pub which caused Aiden to head back north all those years ago? Well, The Church Green is positively buzzing when we arrive on a Friday night: all the rustic wood tables in the restaurant are spoken for, there’s a convivial hubbub throughout the more informal bar area and a party of mums from the local school is revving up in a side room.
Greeting us as we arrive is the gastro pub’s co-owner Sarah, Aiden’s wife, while his brother Louis is in the kitchen. Not much chance of Aiden Byrne’s standards being allowed to slip, then.
And so it proves. The Church Green looks like a homely, neighbourhood pub, it certainly serves that purpose for people in this rather pretty postcode. And yet the food would not be out of place in much fancier and more formal restaurants.
Aside from the ‘Great British Beef’ options, the restaurant menu is elegantly simple: six starters, six mains, six puds, two courses for £23.50 and three for £29.50.
My starter of pickled mackerel with turnip, gooseberries, yogurt and dill is a thing of beauty, the silvery chunks of fish glistening beneath a green herby gauze. The texture of the mackerel is almost creamy, the tang of the pickling combining with the sweeter astringency of the gooseberries, the pleasing sharpness then softened by the yogurt. A lovely plateful.
Our other starter is chicken liver parfait with fig jam and brioche, the parfait softly-textured and deeply musty on the tongue, with a hint of booziness which, Sarah informs us, is brandy. Best chicken parfait ever, says my companion.
A main of roasted cod loin is cooked to perfection, served with roasted new potatoes, artichoke and a hollandaise.
My Goosnargh duck arrives with a honeyed fig - lots of ripe autumnal flavours there - and pommes Anna consisting of the most delicate, crispy layers of potato. We order sides (£4 each) of kale with chestnuts and bacon, and beef dripping chips with bearnaise. The chips are as good as a chip can get - firm on the outside, molten on the inside, with a discernible whiff of beefiness. Why cook chips three times when, as here, you can get it so right first time?
The coffee mousse resembles a coffee trifle which, beneath the crunchy coffee layer has a salty chocolate base. Our other dessert of sticky toffee pudding is a firm tower - not the oversweetened mush which often goes by this name - along with a little jug of smoky toffee sauce and a dab of vanilla ice cream. It’s as good, in my view, as the original sticky toffee pud served at the Sharrow Bay on the banks of Ullswater. w
The Church Green, Higher Lane, Lymm WA13 0AP, 01925 752068, aidenbyrne.co.uk