Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Grenache, Walkden

Grenache, in Walkden, first came to my attention when it was named as 2013's North West regional winner in The Good Food Guide Readers’ Restaurant of the Year Awards.

What they say: “We are proud to offer our customers not just fine food but what can only be described as a decadent dining experience.

We have recently recruited Michelin trained chef Mike Jennings, a protégé of celebrity chef Shaun Rankin. Mike has also worked with other well known chefs such as Nigel Howarth and Gary Rhodes.

What I ate:

Amuse bouche: Fish cake served on tartare sauce in a scallop shell. Garlic & Rosemary Focaccia – wonderfully moist it didn’t need any additional oil or butter.

Buttered Asparagus with Fried Duck Egg and Woodland Mushrooms – a simple, delicious dish cooked to perfection.

Grilled Fillet of mackerel with Pickled Beetroot, Goat’s Cheese, Orange & Watercress Salad. On serving, I was told this was the chef’s ‘Signature Dish’. Conversely, I thought it was the weakest of the evening; the fish was good but I just felt it needed a little more 'Oomph!'... a little something extra to lift it - perhaps sharper pickling; a stronger cheese or even a roasted / salted seed would do the job? (Seeds would also add a welcome textural crunch.)

Roast Rump of Lamb with “Hot Pot” Potatoes, Buttered Chard & Beetroot. On plus side, the lamb was flavoursome and cooked as requested. On the down side, I found there to be too much beetroot to provide balance. However, the rich “Hot Pot” potatoes with their Pommes Anna style slices interlaced with pieces of lamb were exceptional enough to make up for any other shortcomings the dish may have had.

Pre dessert: Lemon posset, tequila granita with a salted tuile – fresh and boozy… say no more!

Rhubarb panacotta – a modern twist on the classic panacotta, served with custard ice cream. I found the custard ice cream a little 'grainy' (crystalline) but it had good flavour. The panatcotta was also better in terms of flavour than texture, which I felt was overset. The sharp tuile was, once again, a good enough component to salvage my enjoyment of the dish as a whole.

Food high points: I enjoyed the freshness and simplicity of the asparagus dish but it's the memory of the ‘Hot Pot’ potatoes that has stayed with me. If I eat a better potato this year, I’ll be a very happy man!

Food low points: Whilst I felt a couple of the dishes needed tweak here and there, the general quality of cooking, presentation and quality was very good.

Décor / ambience: decorated in 50 shades of beige, the restaurant is what you’d expect from a ‘local restaurant’. Good use is made of the limited space and although the room is small and packed with tables it did not feel cramped.  

Service: I was served, in the main, by Huss (the owner) who was welcoming and has a friendly jovial manner. From my observations, he obviously likes to build good relationships with his regulars (as any decent local restaurants should).

Verdict (Would I return?): When a restaurant comes highly acclaimed and makes bold statements on their website I am naturally inclined to be a little more critical than usual; this, I’m sure has come though in my post. That said, and despite my ‘critiques’ I very much enjoyed the overall experience at Grenache and am keen to return.

Grenache on Urbanspoon

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