[Wilmslow, Cheshire] Stolen Lamb
The most memorable mezze meals that I’ve had in Cyprus are those when the menu is created on a daily basis depending on what is local and seasonal. And the Stolen Lamb does exactly the same although, of course, it is taking local Cheshire produce and giving it a Cypriot spin. It does it very well – which was something of a relief as, truth be told, I winced a bit when I saw the £30 price of the mezze. I wondered if this was simply latching on to the local wealth that you find in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle. Allegedly, there are more Ferraris per head of population here than anywhere else in the country. But, no, it reflects the ingredients and the skill in preparing them.
As with most mezze meals, the dishes come in waves and the three introductions were lovely. Some warmed olives, olive oil heavily infused with garlic and a beetroot and pistachio “houmous” and toasted warm pitta bread.
Next up, small dice of cured salmon , together with the delicate flavouring of caper leaves. These leaves are tricky buggers – the stems have small sharp thorns and they find their way into the jars of the pickle that you can readily buy in Cyprus. Then a plate of wild boar and Kefalotiri cheese – a sort of take on the lounza/halloumi dish that is almost a given to appear early on in a mezze in Cyprus; alongside, a “crispy” egg – a very runny Scotch egg affair. Pork, cheese, egg - what’s not to like? The third dish of this course was halloumi. Coated in sesame seeds and dressed with kale and cannellini beans, this was a belter.
Moving, on, there was a turkey souvlaki. That was no doubt a reflection of the festive season and, as always with turkey, it was something on the dry side. Perhaps my least favourite thing all evening. To help it along, a couple of different flavoured sausages – the dominant spicing in both was cinnamon but at different levels. Much better, were some quickly fried king prawns. They sat in a garlic & cauliflower cream that really needed some bread for mopping up but, by then, we’d scoffed all the pitta. There was also a bowl of salad and another of pourgouri, heavily flavoured with roast onion.
Moving on, there were two main elements to the next course. Firstly an excellent dolmades made, according to the menu, to “Mum’s recipe”. And a really excellent kleftiko – the signature dish, I suppose, the word translates as “stolen lamb”. This was long cooked shoulder and was a joy to eat. Alongside, a bowl of simply roasted root vegetables.
And, finally, three elements to dessert – pear poached in red wine was a perfect example of the pear poachers art; a honeycomb ice cream which didn’t really have much taste of anything; and a sticky little cube of baklava.
If I had one complaint, it was the room was bloody cold but it really had been a good effort all round. A thoroughly enjoyable evening eating a favourite national cuisine style. Can’t wait to get back to Paphos to make comparisions.
re: helen b
I'm a Chilli Chilli fan. I don't have lots of experience of eating Sichuan food, having only tried it there and at one of the places in Manchester that gets rave reviews on other sites, but I do enjoy their food, and it compares favourably with the Manchester place.
The main menu is just the usual stuff from bog-standard British Chinese places, and I don't think that they do that particularly well, but their short Sichuan menu is pretty good. The first couple of times we went there, we made friends with one of the waiters, and he used to suggest other dishes which weren't on the menu, so, while I've listed some of my favourites below, some of these may not be on the menu you see - if you know of Sichuan dishes which aren't on it, you could always ask them if they do it - but their English isn't very good.
Highlights are: the beef hotpot - real depth of flavour and searingly hot; twice cooked pork; a great hot and sour soup with glass noodles and minced pork in it (this isn't on the menu, but it's pronounced "swarn larven"); minced pork dumplings in chilli oil; green beans with minced pork, spring onion pancake things are quite oily, but nice.
If you go, I'd be interested to know what you think - I think it's good, but I'm aware that I was also desperate for something a bit different from the same old stuff from Chinese restaurants when we "discovered it", so maybe that has coloured my judgement!
By the by, Manc now has some decent competiition to the much loved Red Chilli. Now, that's not to say that I don't like Red Chilli. I do. It's just that I like Red & Hot and Middle Kingdom more.
But, what is it about Sichuan places and stairs? RC and MK both in cellars and R & H up a couple of flights.
Howler - no 'fraid not. As you'll know, most of my trips "down south" are to round the Richmond/Brentford area or quick tourist trips to the central area.
Helen - I guess if you were looking for a phrase to describe the cuisine it'd be "Modern Cypriot". Well wortth a try with not a tzatziki in sight.. Not really anything else in Wilmslow itself - but you might like to suss out the Alderley Hotel at Alderley Edge (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/827868). And,nope, not been to Chilli Chilli - although we had an overnighter in Liverpool the other week, it's been quite a while since we schlepped over just to eat.