Gordo has reviewed The Church Green in Lymm once, the Editor once and since then, four years ago, a fair bit of water has passed under the bridge.
Gordo has also regularly used the place for family Sunday lunches.
Gordo spent a good ten minutes on the menu, it’s one of those that makes it difficult to choose from, on account of wanting to eat all of it.
A quick catch up.
Aiden Byrne was the youngest chef to be awarded a Michelin star over a decade ago, in Adlards Restaurant in Norfolk running a small brigade. He went on to run The Dorchester Hotel’s kitchens in London with a brigade nudging 300, he gained two Michelin stars for that somewhat grander establishment.
Then he packed it in to invest in his own place and pitched up in Lymm some four or five years ago. Stuff has happened, both good and bad.
But Mr Byrne is a tryer and we now find him entering into partnership with Living Ventures, the owners of Australasia and Artisan, and attempting to build a new age fine dining restaurant in the city. This will be called Manchester House and is aiming straight - there’s been press releases about it - at Michelin glory.
Along with Simon Rogan and the TV mega chef, James Martin, it will be strange if we don’t win at least one star for a restaurant in the city centre within the coming twelve months or so.
Anyway a couple of weeks ago Gordo needed a good country pub Sunday lunch for his motherM aureen, along with his daughter, Georgina, and grandson, Harry.
It all started in a very encouraging manner. Aiden’s missus, the fragrant Sarah, seems to be wearing the pants at The Church Green now ensuring that the place keeps its standards up. Her and the bald, bad-tempered one, aka Aiden Byrne, have also got their hands on an Inka grill.
Essentially these are barbecues in steel boxes which can reach upwards of 400 degrees. They make steaks sing. With the Inka the pair have changed the look of the menus with new and old British dishes.
Sitting in The Church Green garden was not disimilar to being in the garden of a country inn in Burgundy. Being a sunny day, with a good-looking menu in his mitt, Gordo was feeling happy.
His grandson Harry was climbing the tree in the middle of the al fresco paradise, having ordered, the greedy little sod, calamari (£3.00) off the kids menu and pie of the day (ox cheek, £14) off the main. The pie sounded good, so Gordo let him put that order in. He’d finish it off himself if necessary. What a tragedy that would be.
Gordo spent a good ten minutes on the menu, it’s one of those that makes it difficult to choose from, on account of wanting to eat all of it. It is over-complex though and more of that later. It covers starters that go from belly pork and ducks egg (£9) to fish platters (£16).
The Church Green has a grill menu for steaks, for example, sirloin, 8oz at £22. You can add ounces to this at £2.60 per oz; choose a complimentary side then garnishes which include a ‘traditional grill garnish’ of grilled plum tomato, field mushroom, onion rings, watercress and herb butter. Then you spot another: pan fried foie gras and duck egg. And then sauces, béarnaise for example, at £2.
Now, had Gordo chosen his usual rib eye, 10oz, then his traditional garnish, then the foie gras and duck egg and as an extra tickle, béarnaise sauce, chips and cauliflower mornay, he would have been financially assaulted to the tune of £43.20.
Gordo didn’t want to spend that much, he wanted to treat his mum with Champagne instead, but he did order the cauliflower mornay (£3.50) to see if it was as good as the one made at Gordo Towers. It was better. Get it when you’re there.
Georgina, the daughter, had a 10oz burger (£12) that was very, very good by all accounts. Maureen had the crispy pork belly, Lyonnais potatoes and duck egg which was a real belly filler of a dish. Big on flavours.
Harry’s calamari were a little under seasoned for both grandad and grandson, both of whom share the same mental age, 32.
The bread was bloody fabulous. We tucked into seven types of dips (£3) and artisan breads (£3).
Gordo had the roast and braised duck with St George’s mushrooms and broad beans (£19) - main picture at the top of this page. This dish, like the calamari, was the one that didn’t come up to standard. The problem was the sauce. The reduction was too fierce, turning it to the consistency of warm sticky jam, totally overpowering everything on the plate except the braised leg.
Puddings were a very good sticky toffee, with a lovely caramel ice cream (£6.50) and egg custard and rhubarb tart, (£7). The tart was poor, let down by a slightly undercooked pastry bottom, like those custard tarts from Greggs.
Service was, as always in Aiden’s gaffs, charming, knowledgeable and idiosyncratic in a good way. Great beer though. The guy who looks after the cellars is on the ball.
Gordo got Maureen a bottle of Lallier premier cru rose, (£60). Lallier is a small, and excellent champagne house. There is a fine choice of wines by the glass (try Les Coteaux Tufiers, Vouvray demi sec, £6 per 175ml, with your pudding). A bottle of Picpoul de Pinet, a Frenchy from The Languedoc is great value at £24. Gordo paid £34 for it in Hix, Soho, last Saturday lunchtime.
There are lots of wines under £28. There is a very good red Burgundy on the list, a Vallet Frères Gevrey Chambertin. A 1998, unusual as it has reached good maturity in a a fair year, and value at £74. Burgundy at the right age is a lovely experience.
Still Gordo has to confess that this has been a difficult review.
It’s slightly confused.
Like the menu.
The food here is top notch for a country pub - don’t embarrass it by calling it a gastro pub, it’s more interesting than that - but Gordo can’t help thinking that the menu has got out of hand. Too complex.
That duck dish shouldn’t be there for example. It should be a 1950s half roast duck with a tart gooseberry sauce, all crisp and fatty, with a big fuck off bunch of fresh, crunchy peppery watercress.
Having said that, maybe Gordo should have read the menu a little longer.
For example there is an option of organizing a real family Sunday lunch here. Gordo only noticed that whilst going back through the menu writing this review. You could call up during the week and order a three rib roast for four or six (or even a roast goose), with all the trimmings. That would work.
The prices are pretty hefty, you need to choose carefully or you can run over-budget easily. But, balance that off with the fact that this team knows what it’s doing with the raw ingredients.
As an example the pie sounds dear at £14, until you see it. It’s the equivalent of two Pieministers with a solid filling and a pot of tasty gravy. That word tasty is normally banned in the Confidential lexicon, because it’s a word over-used by piss-poor food writers. But it was. Tasty. A bit like Gordo really.
Go. You’ll enjoy it.
For a country pub restaurant it’s well tasty.
(You are not allowed to use the word ‘tasty’ now for four years, a year ban for each time in this article. Editor)