Women in Business Luncheon - Opera Grill, Chester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 March 2017
Where better for discerning business women to enjoy an afternoon of hospitality than Chester's Opera Grill?
The stage was set for a special occasion when Cheshire Life held its Women in Business lunch at Chester’s biggest restaurant on Pepper Street. Critics have been singing the praises of this latest glamorous addition to the Individual Restaurant group’s stable, which includes favourites such as Piccolino and Gino D’Acampo... and it is easy to see why.
While ground level has the temptations of the restaurant’s ‘Grill Floor’ complete with 25 metres of counter-height fridges stocked with a vast array for fresh produce, the upper level has a cool terrace bar with a retractable roof that opens up to the sunshine in the summer.
But given this was early in the year, it was heaters and not the sun which warmed guests as they sipped an elegant Prosecco Lunetta 100% Glera Veneto, Italy, and nibbled on a selection of canapés, including smoked salmon, chicken pate and courgette tempura, before heading through to the restaurant for act two.
Somelier Ashley Whittingham-Orford explained that the Cheshire Life luncheon menu reflected the casual dining style of the restaurant, which opened last August.
‘We have an internationally inspired menu with the focus largely on our grill area downstairs; it has charcoal and wood fire ovens, steaks, lobster and seafood, raw bar with sushi and oysters.
‘The beauty of the menu is that you can have smaller dishes or the lunch menu or full a la carte. So as it’s a ladies’ lunch, we have tried to keep it a little lighter - we’ve not gone for the full 500g steaks,for example, and it ‘s designed as a celebration too,’ said Ashley.
Once seated at tables arranged around a stage and dance floor, the curtain was raised on a punchy starter of Chicken Yakatori, with a lovely sticky teriyaki and sesame sauce. For non-meat eaters there was an intense wood smoked red pepper soup, served with hunks of warm crispy bread. The accompanying champagne Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosè was a heady and inspired choice for the first courses, helping balance the strong flavours.
Explains Ashley: ‘The rosè is really good as it has slightly more body and the aromatics go well with the sweeter slightly spicy nature of the starter.’
A fabulous Gewurztraminer Turckheim Reserve was poured and its subtle slightly sweet fruitiness held its own against a memorable main course of black cod with rice. This dish was presented magnificently, wrapped in a blackened banana leaf. It was accompanied by asparagus and served with miso with pickled onions.
‘I’ve chosen the Gewurztraminer because it is an option people don’t normally go for. I think it’s nice for people, not be forced, but to be led into trying something a little bit different,’ Ashley elaborates.
‘It probably appeals to somebody who enjoys a Viognier,that sort of thing. It’s not sweet: it is an off-dry so having blackened cod with miso you need something to balance that and something with some acidity to cut through the sticky nature of the sauce.’
The vegetarian barley risotto for the non meat eaters was once again a powerfully flavoured dish with roasted heritage tomatoes taking centre stage and feta cheese adding texture and piquancy in its supporting role.
A crowd-pleasing chocolate delice combined soft creamy chocolate with honeycomb, cut with a refreshing lime sorbet. This was served with a glass of port and proved the perfect finale to what had been a class act. A round of applause was given by our guests and much deserved it was too.
Chicken Yakatori, corn fed chicken, teryaki, sesame
Wood roast red pepper soup (vegetarian option)
Black cod served with rice and asparagus, miso, pickled onions
Barley risotto roast heritage tomatoes, marinated feta (vegetarian option)
Chocolate delice, honecomb, lime sorbet
Champagne Laurent Perrier Cuvee rose, 100% Pino Noir - Tour-Sur-Marine, France
Gewurztraminer Turckheim Reserve, 100% Gewurztraminer - Turckheim 2013
Krohn port Colheita 1982 Touriga Nacional, Touriga, Franca, Tinca Barroca, Porto
Pepper St, Chester CH1 1DF