Restaurant reviews - Piste, Tarporley
PUBLISHED: 15:25 25 July 2016 | UPDATED: 15:25 25 July 2016
A spot of après-ski in Tarporley? Louise Allen-Taylor visits Piste, the wine bar and restaurant bringing some Alpine chic to the Cheshire plain.
In this country, cheese fondue has passed in and out of fashion as frequently as flared trousers. On the rare occasions I spot it on a menu, it reminds me of dinner parties my parents had in the 1970s, with most of the guests looking like the cast of Abigail’s Party.
In Switzerland - home of the molten cheese dip - cheese fondue is as steadfast a food staple as our fish and chips. And, perching on a bar stool in Piste, Tarporley, forking more and more cheese-soaked gobbets of bread into my mouth (and spilling a little of it down my front... be warned, it’s messy) I can’t help thinking the Swiss have the right idea.
The last time I had fondue I was, indeed, in a log cabin restaurant looking out on a cold, snowy Swiss mountain. It was many years ago and I enjoyed it then, and I enjoyed it no less for being in a wine bar on Tarporley High Street on a warm Saturday evening.
Piste has been open since 2010 and is a family business headed up by James Hughes, with former chef to the McLaren Formula One team Duncan Angus in the kitchen. Piste is the sort of place where the lovely staff are as warm and welcoming to diners ordering three hearty courses, as they are to shoppers popping in for little more than one drink.
The ambience of Piste is intriguing: elkhorn chandeliers, an old toboggan frame on the wall, distressed, reclaimed and DIY furniture, a black and white alpine scene masquerading as a picture window and candles in wine bottles (like the fondue, a throwback to the UK baby boomers’ first dalliance with continental sophistication).
We chose the emmental and gruyere dip with stonebaked baguette (£8 per head) and it was so delicious we were soon ordering second helpings of bread. There are also mushroom and chilli fondues to choose from, and different boards of dipping materials such as charcuterie, Mexican nibbles or vegetables. The fondue is so moreish that, on another visit, I’d certainly make it the whole meal.
But there’s much more to go at on Piste’s bill of fare. For a main, I went for a crab, Menai mussel and Jersey royal risotto with asparagus (£15) - fresh and zesty, with the potato lending it a good firm consistency - from Piste’s seasonal menu, plus a side order of charred beetroot and goat’s curd (£3.50 for a very generous portion). My companion opted for a superfood salad with chicken (£16) from the permanent ‘favourites’ menu, enjoying a huge bowl of leaves, carrot, beans, peas, pomegranate and much more in a dressing singing with fresh mint.
Dessert of lemon-sugared Swiss meringue was just right - chalky and hard on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside - with vanilla cream and passion fruit syrup (£6.50).
There is a good selection of European beers and a strong wine list including many tempting champagnes, with an enormous selection of wines by the glass. I love it here and think you will too.
Piste, 55 High Street, Tarporley CW6 0DP, 01829 732483, www.pistetarporley.com