Restaurant review - The Shippon by Mark Ellis, Eyton, Wrexham
PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 August 2018
Renowned Cheshire chef Mark Ellis - of Great British Menu fame - is now showcasing his talent in leafy Eyton, just over the border.
You’ve got to love a restaurant which wears its origins with pride. Look at The Con Club in Altrincham - a nicely-weathered former Conservative working men’s club now an apolitical, buzzy eatery. And now there is The Shippon restaurant and bar, set in lovely countryside at Eyton, Wrexham. From taking the odd touring caravan in the 1980s, the dairy farm here developed into a five-star holiday park, The Plassey, and the milking parlour became a restaurant and bar, The Shippon, which, after a re-styling, now bears the name of Mark Ellis, a star of BBC2’s Great British Menu, who also has Allium in Tattenhall.
It’s appealingly obvious that The Shippon was once a place for cows, not humans. Our table is in a booth created from a cattle stall, complete with feed trough and water basin. There’s polished brick (the same brick as used for the London underground, apparently) and white tiling everywhere. Milking paraphernalia and old agricultural posters adorn the walls. The theme even continues over into the loos where (I am reliably informed) the urinals are created from shiny milking pails!
The holiday park affords the restaurant a captive market, but even at weekends, the clientele tends to be 50/50 between residents and non-residents. And if the notion of caravanning and good food doesn’t seem like a natural fit, you need only look at Marram Grass on Anglesey - once a caravan site cafe, now a destination restaurant place-to-be.
Mark Ellis has past form for dreaming up turbo-charged versions of comfort food staples, so I am intrigued by his ‘toast on cheese’ starter. But I am more intrigued by ‘Mosaic’ (£8) a slab of juicy pressed chicken topped with mussels, lip-smacking chicken skin and something which tastes like posh salad cream. Our other starter is Chirk trout, blow torched and accompanied by a deeply-flavoruful smoked trout mousse, pickled grapes and fennel. A main of Welsh black beef (£18) is a Jacob’s ladder (short rib) cut, cooked, says the menu, for 48 hours. It’s certainly a succulent slab of meat, charred on the outside, just beyond pink at the core, the rich flavour nicely complemented by yeast potato. Our other main is hake (£17) beautifully poached in beef butter with samphire and a decorative trellis of broccoli, almonds, crispy fish skin and pea puree - almost too pretty to eat.
On to puds and the parfait (£8) is a delicate, tantalising combination of iced passion fruit, white chocolate, lemon and meringue. Better yet, though, is ‘Save The Bees’, one of Ellis’s Great British Menu dishes. It has a rhubarb sorbet, aerated honey mousse with bee pollen-encrusted shards of tuile wafer and, at the bottom, cubes of rhubarb and a sweet nugget of real honeycomb. It’s as enticing a mix of sweet, sour, sharp and soft flavours as I’ve ever tasted. There’s much more to the offer, not least the ‘experience’ menu: six courses, with a vegetarian option and wine or gin pairings. It’s also worth mentioning a wine list which includes some very affordable choices.
The Shippon by Mark Ellis is at Eyton, Wrexham, LL13 0SP, tel 01978 780999, theshippon.com