Monday 12 May 2014

Sticky Walnut, Chester.

When you waste as much time as I do on twitter (mainly looking at pictures of food and dogs etc,) you feel as though you 'know' people even though you've actually never met them. So when Marina O'Loughlin glowingly reviewed the Sticky Walnut in The Guardian a few months back, quite a few of us Sticky fans were well chuffed for the whole team. It wasn't a feeling of, oh she likes somewhere we do. I think it's because if you follow chef Gary Usher's entertaining tweets all the time, and his ups and downs, it seemed like a real life event that we felt we were somehow part of, like a narrative that had a happy ending for a change.
They really deserved it though. I'm going to try not to go over the top about how much I like this place, I've already been accused of being a sycophant just for sending out a few tweets (I was proper excited to be there for my lunch, I don't have much of a life). Someone even suggested that me and chef Gary Usher were one and the same person! Although when he'd find time to do up to four blog posts a week as well as running a restaurant, I'd love to know. I've hardly got time to work.
But one thing I will say, when you eat out as much as I do, you realise that there aren't quite as many chefs that really impress as he does. I also get the feeling that he's a chef's chef. To put it simply as I'm wont to do; the food is nowt fancy (nor is is attempting to be), but it always has that depth of flavour that I'm looking for. You'd think this simplicity is quite easy to achieve. It clearly isn't, or everyone would be doing it, and they're not. Well not around our neck of the woods anyway. As I said in my previous review, there is nowhere in Manchester quite like Sticky Walnut.
On this occasion, I had some of the new dishes. The Steak Tartare (£6) was totally spot on. After a stunning weekend of eating in Madrid last week, I was a little bit jaded. I'd received four invites for some very uninspirational new restaurants opening in Manchester. (The usual; a crappy looking steakhouse, bland chains, Hard rock café etc. I won't be going to any of them, I'm sure you'll see some positive 'reviews' elsewhere though). 
This dish brought me back. I think I maybe addicted to raw meat in general, (raw fish too) and the polenta chips were a perfect accompaniment. The Focaccia bread (£3) was even better than last time as it was slightly more toasted, giving it beautiful warm oily crunch on the outside, with a comforting fluffyness inside. Some people think bread doesn't really matter, an afterthought. They're just quite wrong aren't they. 
The Jacob's Ladder (a bargain £10) is another new dish. I'd driven here especially for this really. It didn't disappoint either. You know when the flesh slides off the bone, and the fatty soft gelatinous meat on first taste is just so flipping good? If I could have done, I'd have licked all the sticky gravy off that plate right there and then. Great for a tenner too.
Beautiful spring veg too.
I finished off with a light and fluffy Strawberry and champagne trifle (more like a fruity mousse). Perfect. Lovely service as usual too. The bill came to a very reasonable £37 with a few glasses of wine.
In an ideal world, I'd have Sticky Walnut at the end of our road and I'd eat there every week, sadly I don't. Still, I should be thankful it's only 45 minutes down the motorway. In a world full of bleeding bloody awful and ever spreading chains, it's fantastic that there's still some idiosyncratic and unique places like Sticky Walnut around. We must treasure them while we can.

To see the photos in hi res click here
To see the earlier review click here

Sticky Walnut on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm off there in two weeks for my birthday, can't flipping wait. cracking pics of the food.

  2. Nice to see the Sticky Walnut having been rightly furnished with 2 x AA rosettes in this year's eponymous guide (it was quite cruelly overlooked in its first two years of operation), as well an enviable rating of 4 in the Good Food Guide. Definitely Chester's second-best restaurant after Simon Radley at the Grosvenor. The only mither is managing to get a table less than a fortnight in advance!

    Check out Chester's newest restaurant blog:

    In Search of Sustenance in Cheshire West: Chowing in Chester, Nomming in Northwich, Feasting in Frodsham and Scoffing in Stockton Heath