Food profile - The Inn at Huxley
PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 June 2019
Fifty years ago, Danny Lees told his mother that one day he'd open the best restaurant in Cheshire. Now, The Inn at Huxley is elegant destination dining you will want to experience.
The Inn at Huxley can be found on the site of a 200 year old pub, The Farmers Arms. Once thriving, it eventually fell into disrepair and decay, unloved by the brewery that ran it. In 2012, Danny Lees, seeking to make his youthful dream come true, discovered the site, loved the views, saw its magnificent potential and set the wheels in motion that today bring us The Inn at Huxley, a luxurious, elegantly styled restaurant that, from the moment you arrive in the car park, leaves you in no doubt that you have discovered somewhere special.
'As a teenager I worked at The Mere Golf Club,' says Danny. 'To me, in the late 1960s, it represented pure luxury. I said to my mum: "One day, I'm going to have something as good as this."'
He went on to establish an industrial doors business, which he sold when he decided to retire. Should you meet Danny, you'll know immediately that his idea of retirement doesn't match most, however. He's an energy-filled bundle of enthusiasm and drive. He tells a stream of (often terrible) jokes, is fascinated by everything that he sees around him and pretty much can't stand still. He's also bursting with pride for his restaurant, and rightly so.
'In 2012 my daughter Sherril and I started talking about at last making my dream happen. We heard this property was for sale and came to have a look. That trip became what we now call a 'drive buy'. I had hoped to renovate, but it was in too poor a condition, so we ended up demolishing the building and starting again.'
The attention to detail in this build is astonishing. From the diamond-cut new York Stone flags in the garden, pointed with resin rather than cement ("no weeds will ever get in there") to the refurbished cast iron pillars in the Orangerie, taken from Altrincham train station when the tram line was being put in, to the Mouseman (complete with cheeky mice) wooden furniture and the glass door panels hand-painted with images taken from old photographs of the pub from the 1880's, this is a truly beautiful endeavour.
'I am a perfectionist. I only work with the very best,' says Danny. 'Sherril did the interior design, taking English country house style as her inspiration, even commissioning original artwork from local artists Lauren and Claire, at Lady Longhorn Gallery in Burwardsley. The stonework was all done by Gary Barton, from Congleton. The furniture and woodwork is all Mouseman or Venables Oak.'
Sherril adds: 'The Inn at Huxley is very much a family concern: we're all in it together. My husband, James, is head chef. Both my sisters, Hayley and Sarah, work here too and we always say our mum, Deborah, is the 'great woman' behind our dad - even he admits he couldn't have achieved what he has without her!'
Of course, none of this really matters if the food doesn't live up to its surroundings - including a kitchen garden that would put Titchmarsh's to shame - but let me assure you, it absolutely does. Again, Danny's ethos is clear and simple: only the best, from the best, by the best.
'What we can't grow ourselves, we buy from Cheshire suppliers - but only if it's good enough,' says Sherril. 'The rest is all sourced from within the UK. Our beef comes from four types of cattle: Belted Galloway, Aberdeen Angus, Hereford and Red Poll, and is hung for five weeks.
Head chef James is joined by Darren and Mike, and by pastry chef Andrew, who trained at The Grosvenor Hotel. They are all classically trained, and the menu reflects this.
I had been advised before I went that the food was fantastic, with rave reviews of the fish and chips ringing in my ears. I was not disappointed. A starter of asparagus with a crispy egg was just wonderful. The Steak Diane, with beef so soft I could have used my butter knife, was outstanding. My husband chose the beef pie - Danny's own speciality. It was dreamily good, by all accounts, though he wouldn't share so I wouldn't know.
The Inn at Huxley is a true dining discovery, one you will want to repeat regularly. Relax by the Mouseman fireplace with a specially brewed house ale, or a signature gin and tonic, peruse the menu at leisure and then let the wonderful staff look after you for an evening of gastronomic elegance, in country house style. It's old Cheshire, re-made. u
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