[Knutsford, Cheshire] Old Sessions House
Recently opened (and punted to me by a non-foody friend who lives in the town), the Old Sessions House describes itself as a gastropub. Now I generally hate the title, not least as it is rarely factual. Most of these places are just restaurants that happen to be in old pub buildings. But, for once, the title fits as there is definitely a separation of the gastro and the pub here. Now, of course, this is Cheshire, so nobody is popping in for a pint of mild and a game of darts. But there are bar stools and comfy chairs for those who have popped in for cocktails. That said, most of the space is given over to diners and there’s a seemingly well crafted menu which is heavy on local provenance and which is backed up by a small number of daily specials. And there’s a bargain, and regularly changing, “market menu” which brings in two courses for just under a tenner.
I kicked off with Cheshire Cheese Sausages – the obvious local spin on the better known Glamorgan sausage. Here, a poky Cheshire was breadcrumbed and deep-fried to crisp. Two big sausages that would have happily formed the basis for a main course with handful of salad but, here, served on their own with only a small dish of apple chutney to accompany. I followed that up with shepherd’s pie. Made with Herdwick lamb - to my mind the most tasty of the regional breeds. Knowing how flavoursome the meat can be, I was a little underwhelmed. Now, I know shepherd’s pie can be a little bland but the balance of ingredients was very much towards the thick potato topping. I reckon the kitchen had gone a bit over the top in its cost control efforts.
There was something along those lines with both of my wife’s dishes. She’d opted for the market menu and was not about to have got the better of the ordering. Tomato and basil soup was thin and watery. And had barely a taste of tomato or basil. Similar issues with the main course of “Mac & cheese” which, to be frank, seemed to be just pasta in thin cream, with no taste of cheese. Just not very nice at all and about half of it was left. That said, the waiter dealt with our complaint entirely properly – a fullsome apology, an offer to get her something else to eat (declined) and the full cost of her meal being taken off the bill.
This is, no doubt, a useful addition to the town centre and it certainly seemed very popular with the “ladies who lunch” but I’m not sure I’d bother driving past two or three of the dining pubs in nearby Mobberley to eat here again.
I'd be looking at Mobberley, rather than in town. The Bull's Head is a decent enough dining pub. The Roebuck used to be better. It closed a few months back but has reopened. I'm not sure if its new owners and we've not had chance to get back there yet.
By way of a warning, the Belle Epoque in the town centre used to be the dog's bollocks but our meal there in April was more the dog's breakfast. Poor beyond belief.
If you're set on eating in town, then there isnt much of a stand-out. I'd probably suggest Piccolino which, although a small national chain (with origins in the north west) serves up reasonably decent Italian food.