Hotel guests, couples on a date
In a Word
Off To Handforth I Go…
Handforth – not somewhere I find myself very often. It’s a bit, well, posh. And I’m not.
It’s full of big beautiful houses, very well-kept gardens and a couple of big retail parks and a Best Western Hotel that houses One-Eighty. The outside gives nothing away, bits of the architecture hint at the 1970s, there’s some nice reclaimed brick and inside it’s a nice light, bright clean hotel.
But this place is a find. Alongside good local produce used to create your standard hotel restaurant food, this has a seasonal menu that is a corker.
We opted for wine – there’s a great wine list and some absolute bargains to be had. It’s really a no brainer.
We tried to vary our choices between the standard menu and the seasonal, just to be fair. In the end, all my choices were from the seasonal menu and I can’t pretend I’m not happy about that, because, well, that would be lying.
Though torn, my date selected a pie for starter. I can’t blame him. Warm beef pie from their local butcher, fresh piccalilli, pickled onions and HP Sauce.
I’d have been jealous, but I had swordfish tartare. A little cake of fresh fish, little nugget of salty acidity from capers, borage, and a perfect quails’ egg sitting atop sweet, crisp fennel.
Moving towards mains, and given he’d had pie to begin with, my date went all veggie on me with the open lasagne with mushroom and spinach and poached hen’s egg. Admittedly, it didn’t look much like a lasagne, but the comments from both my date and the two vegetarian diners next to us, were very positive. I’ve been a victim of vegetarian lasagne before – generally a mash of overdone pasta, what tastes like tinned ratatouille and a vaguely floury white sauce that has a texture similar to wallpaper paste.
My main was, well, downright pretty. Pork fillet and collar, apricot and tenderstem broccoli, all served on a wooden board. The pork was tender which given it’s a fillet can be a feat in itself. Served atop butternut squash puree, with freshly cooked apricot, crisp broccoli and the most divine pig cheek patty covered in breadcrumbs. My date asked for a bite. I refused.
Dessert too brought contrasts. My date’s Eggy Bread with warm berry jam and salted caramel ice cream, would normally have inspired vast jealousy – especially given I spend most of my time on a low carb diet and this was good old fashioned stodge.
But I’d seen something on the menu that made my heart go pitty pat. And when I ordered it, the manager too smiled as it’s her favourite dish on the entire menu.
The menu describes it as ‘Arctic Roll – Cherries’. What arrives is as far removed from that cheap vanilla ice cream and sponge of my childhood as I could imagine.
This was grown up. Adult. A light chocolate sponge wrapped around black cherry ice cream, little morsels of dehydrated cherries, sweet sharp sherbet, tiny beetroot leaves, curls of dark chocolate and two big fat fresh cherries.
This is a hidden gem. Go.