Since we dined at Etrop Grange
back in January, we've followed chef Ernst Van Zyl
's career path with great interest. Well actually more than just interest really; as much as you can really know anyone online, it's like
we kind of know him through social media even though we'd only met him once until last week. We do know for sure that he's a very generous bloke and a damned talented chef who's perhaps not always had the kudos from local press, quite unfairly in my book. He's had a few knocks this year; haven't we all? But things were decidedly looking up for him, we'd heard he'd moved onto pastures new. I had
to find out where but everyone was keeping mum, Ernst was getting things ship-shape before opening officially. After some devious working out, and a promise from me that I'd keep my gob shut, I'd booked in as early as I could into his new pub he's running with Sarah his partner; The Lord Clyde
in a small village not far from Macclesfield. It took us no time (just half an hour) to get there from Chorlton, and as we loitered outside, a friendly neighbour taking in the late autumn sun called over to us: "They don't open till 12!"
But we'd been spotted from inside and our friendly host and barmaid Alice let us in early. It's quite cute inside, some redecoration is required they told us, but this will be done in time as they find their feet.
We knew we were having the taster menu from the off, and I ordered a beer as we munched on some freshly made parsnip crisps. I would hope they may in time also get some local beers on too, if owners Punch Taverns will allow. For me this should be part of the terroir
concept that I know is so important to Ernst. They have already managed to negotiate some very decent wines, so we will most likely take the wine pairings next time we come.
To start off with we had Ernst's bread. This is simply stunning and equal to any we've had this year at Michelin star restaurants. It also has the real wow factor of the smoked butter to go with it. We could not get enough of this superb Sourdough
bread and butter, and embarrassingly accepted a second loaf with resigned gluttony.
Velouté of Pumpkin Soup
|Just one more piece....|
- chestnut and Black sticks blue cheese. Dead tasty, rich and hearty, a great start.
- celery; shallot and chicken liver. We both adored this dish, beautifully presented, and with an intense taste to match, I hesitate to use the M word again, but in my opinion this wouldn't be out of place in a high end restaurant. Superb.
Ham Hock Terrine
- plum; cauliflower and salted peanuts. Mrs B isn't a fan of terrines in general, but I liked it; a very enjoyable rich dish, the addition of the peanuts give it a satisfying crunch.
Roasted rump / beetroot; cucumber and buckwheat. I can recall three stunning lamb dishes this year, one was at El Celler de Can Roca
, the other at Simon Rogan's The French
and this is the third. Our star dish, it had that intense lamb flavour that reminds you of eating it as a child. Fantastic gravy too. I guess you should
be embarrassed when they ask you if you want a straw for the gravy, as we were caught taking a swig of it, but not a bit of it. It was too good to waste!
An additional Cheese
Course. A very decent selection and generous portions too.
- meringue; wild rice and blueberries. An Ernie classic that we enjoyed last time. Easily in my Top 10 desserts of the year, and we've had a few good ones. Crispy, citrus and fresh, a perfect combination of flavour and texture for me.
Bitter Chocolate Brownie
- parsnip; golden raisins and tarragon. Mrs B says of brownies in general that they are 'like a cake but drier'; I agree. Ernst did a good job of this dish though we thought, with perfect accompaniments.
, and a home-made treat. (Just the right amount as well.)
Chef Ernst came over and we chatted about the meal. For me his food has moved on somewhat since January. We really liked it then, but it's come together a lot more, perhaps more mature and less fussy and technique driven. He mentioned the influence of his time working a stage at Frantzen/Lindeberg (now just Frantzen
,) where the elements are paired down and simplified to just a few. It's just the right amount
of creativity now I think. There is a tendency amongst some chefs to use all the latest gadgets and modern techniques, but sometimes the end product suffers as a result. It may look pretty, but its' lost it's way in terms of flavour. I was explaining that I don't really care
how something is made, it's just about the end result; the taste. Ernie was saying that he's still using complex perhaps laborious techniques, but for me it's massively improved as the end result is kind of simpler, paired down and more minimal - to put it more succinctly; it's innovative and creative but it tastes good and it really works.
In our opinion, the style of food Ernst Van Zyl is creating here fits perfectly in this new setting, and now he has his A team with him (Danny Ellis whom he trained at Etrop) along with Sarah and Alice, we think everything is in place and he's finally come home.
We know we have.
relaxed. Alice our waitress/barmaid is a real natural.
Atmosphere: It soon filled out and every table was full as we left.
Food: Absolutely Superb.
Star dish: Lamb - Roasted rump.
Soundtrack: Would You Believe in Me: Jon Lucien.
So glad you enjoyed it and your photographs really do Ernie's food justice :DReplyDelete