[Styal, Cheshire] 39 Steps
We’d never been for dinner and it’s some goodly time since we came for their very well priced set lunch. The lunch menu is also now available for dinner and offers two courses for £17.50 and three for a couple of quid more. There’s also a short carte which is priced to make the eyes water of even diners used to London pricing. Not through any particular design, other than fancying what we wanted to eat, one of us went with the set menu and the other with the carte.
There was the almost obligatory amuse bouche although this was an amuse possibly from someone who has never had an amuse bouche. Served on one of those large ceramic spoons you get in Chinese restaurants, it was just chopped chicken and a dollop of chutney. It wouldn’t have been so bad but it was piled up so high that you needed a fork to eat it off the spoon. We concluded they must have cooked too much chicken at lunchtime and needed to get rid of it somehow. Giving it to the cat would have been a better bet.
From the set menu, spiced parsnip soup wasn’t really spicy but was an OK parsnip soup. Following that, a ribeye steak accurately cooked but not tasting of much, even though they make great play of it being Charolais. Classic accompaniments of chips, mushroom and tomatoes. And a red wine & pepper sauce that was so strongly flavoured with pepper that it could kill the taste of everything else on the plate. Mercifully it was in a little jug, so could easily be left
The starter from the carte was equally disappointing. Perhaps more so, considering its £7.50 price tag. Described as a “hash brown, 39 style”, it was an enormous croquette. And I mean enormous – as thick as my wrist. I would have been a happy bunny to eat such a large portion if it had fulfilled my expectation from the menu description. So, a hash brown filled with Cheshire cheese and black pudding and topped with a soft poached egg. Sort of breakfast in one, if you like. Apart from the fact that they possibly use the mildest Cheshire and the least flavoursome pudding. And the soft poached egg which should have provided a sauce was overcooked and rock hard. And the mustard cream tasted of neither. Not good. Not good at all
The main course of monkfish was a redeeming feature. The fish coated in coriander , chilli and garlic carried a good kick but still left you able to taste the fish. Some stir fried pak choi and saffron new potatoes were inoffensive accompaniments. .
We didn’t bother with dessert. Coffee was good and hot.
I suppose its saving grace is the set menu if you were in the neighbourhood of Manchester Airport and needed a reasonable lunch or a dinner that was more “having your tea” than “going out for dinner”, in pleasant surroundings, with friendly service.
It was never any good when located in Manchester centre (apart from the live music) back in the early eighties, though they hung around whilst many went to the wall.
I think it's at least two owners on from those city centre times. I recall they moved to Styal under the original ownership, although I think in different premises to now