Restaurant reviews - Piste, Sandbach
PUBLISHED: 00:00 18 May 2017
A wintry-themed restaurant arrives on the foodie scene of Sandbach, and it's sure to be popular all year round, writes louise allen-taylor.
When we passed our verdict last year on the Alpine-style Piste in Tarporley, we found it something of a one-off.
Well, whaddya know, there’s two of them now. Piste’s quirky Swiss-tinged ambience has been recreated in a second restaurant in Sandbach after a re-fit of what was once The Folks wine bar on High Street. It is charming.
There are toboggans hanging from the ceiling, a rack of vintage skis opposite the bar, old ice skates and snow shoes on the wall, accoutrements made out of antlers and chunky time-worn wooden tables which look like something knocked up from items found in a rail yard. It’s a splendidly kitsch affair, topped off by candles in wine bottles on the tables - a nod to the 1970s, when cheese fondue had a previous heyday, though, updating the idea Cheshire-style, the bottles in question are not Mateus but Laurent Perrier rosé.
This Alpine theme works, perhaps, even better in the low-ceilinged snugness of the Sandbach premises. The locals obviously agree. We are here only days after the restaurant’s opening, and, even on a Tuesday evening, it’s looking very busy.
So busy, in fact, that the waiting staff neglect to hand us the table d’hote menu (two courses for £14) when we sit down, and we only learn about its existence as we are ordering our puds. No matter, we are in the love with the place.
We had tried Piste’s fondue on our visit to Tarporley and it was spectacular, if inevitably a little messy. There should be an old Alpine saying: ‘Don’t wear your best frock if you’re gorging on molten cheese.’
It’s all we can do to stop ourselves going for the fondue again in Sandbach, but, hey, we’re here for your benefit, not ours, and journalistic inquiry demands that we venture further off-piste...
A starter of chicken liver and Armagnac parfait (£7) is smooth, complex and discernibly boozy, accompanied by a fig chutney and the crispest toasted bread ever. Our other starter of Gressingham duck with pak choi, toasted peanuts and noodle salad (£8) is a sweet, light and subtle Asian fusion affair of which I could eat an awful lot more.
A main of seven-hour braised shin of beef (£16) is a very friable puck of beef with celeriac mash, buttered kale, vine tomatoes, a lush onion purée and a punchy red wine jus. Very nicely done. Our other main is chicken breast stuffed with emmental cheese and prosciutto with a moist and intensely cheesy gruyère rosti (£16). Another dose of comfort food.
A pud of manuka honey panna cotta with roasted figs (£7) is satisfyingly dense and delicately flavoured. Another pud of Cheshire Farm ice cream (£5.50) sees the three scoops arrive encased in a whopping tubular brandy snap. This is the first time we’ve ever called for a doggy bag to take home the remainder of a dessert.
All in all, then, a characterful addition to Sandbach’s food scene, but if you are really entering into the spirit of Piste, you should try that wonderful fondue at least once.
Piste Wine Bar and Restaurant, 45 High Street, Sandbach, CW11 1AL, 01270 768923, www.pistesandbach.com