Taking vegetarian cuisine to another level
This week, our regular foodie blogger Elaine is desperate to tell us all about Etrop Grange, a beautiful Grade II listed Georgian County House, with a fantastically imaginative chef. It’s anything but an ‘airport hotel’.
This review is a break from the norm, but an event worth a write up.
We’d been hearing great things about the head chef at Etrop Grange from friends who had been to eat there in recent months.
So when we heard about a dinner event being hosted by Tanya at Dine In Out that was a purely vegetarian six course menu we booked our places to try something a little bit different and special.
Etrop Grange is a hotel set in a Grade 2 listed Georgian country house. It’s right next to the airport, but you would never know as it is a world away in it’s looks, with beautiful gardens and courtyards outside.
Their head chef Ernst van Zyl and his team are building quite a reputation for the style and quality of their food and cooking. As he says “Experimental modern British which evokes memories – using flavour as a core belief”.
Ernst has spent time at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck and Noma (listed in ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’) during his career, and recently he spent a few weeks working in the kitchens of Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir. His food is beautiful to look at and he uses experimental techniques to get the most out of his chosen ingredients.
The Vegetarian Feast was organised by Tanya who runs Dine In Out (you can find them on Twitter @Dineinout). She challenges local chefs and restaurants to come up with interesting and special menus around a theme (future dinners include The Twelve Days Of Christmas, and a Raw Food menu for the New Year) places are limited to dinner party numbers, usually 10/12 diners.
The dinner at Etrop Grange was served in The Library private dining room. As well as the six courses we also had the option of an additional wine match or juice match (for the drivers) for each course, chosen by the sommelier with the kitchen team creating the juices.
The menu gave only the basics of each dish away to us and there was a surprise with each plate.
I have picked the dishes I enjoyed the most to tell you more about.
Hay pannacotta, with cauliflower, walnut, crispy wild rice & cucumber jelly.
Sweet Corn ‘Aero’ with popcorn, salted peanut butter and shitake mushrooms.
Celeriac – Salt Crust Baked, with duck egg yolk, coriander seed ‘glass’ and coriander oil, watercress emulsion and stalks.
Jerusalem Artichoke Ice Cream, with granny smith apple, Appleby’s Cheshire cheese and basil.
Amuse bouche: Hay pannacotta, with cauliflower, walnut, crispy wild rice and cucumber jelly served on top of a bowl of smoke.
This was an introduction to how the rest of the menu would be.
The smoke was released when you touched the cling film cover with your spoon to eat and we soon noticed that if you tapped the cling film it made fragrant smoke rings (the childishness stopped there you will pleased to hear).
Starter: Sweet Corn ‘Aero’ with popcorn, salted peanut butter and shitake mushrooms.
Whipped and almost dried sweet corn mousse, lovely and creamy with peanut brittle and popcorn for added texture. A combination of salty and sweet but subtle enough to taste everything on the plate.
Main: Celeriac – Salt Crust Baked, with duck egg yolk, coriander seed ‘glass’ and coriander oil, watercress emulsion and stalks.
Wafer thin celeriac disks – like a Carpaccio – with ribbons of celery and peppery watercress emulsion. The flavours of this dish were clean and fresh and the coriander seed ‘glass’ was incredible – sweet but aromatic and like eating crisp caramel. The duck egg yolk was soft and mellowed the flavours when you put them together on one fork acting almost like a sauce.
Dessert: Jerusalem Artichoke – Ice Cream, with granny smith apple, Appleby’s Cheshire cheese and basil.
Artichoke ice cream was made in the dining room in front of us and added to our plates of dried Granny Smith ‘crisps’. Crumbled Lancashire cheese and apple pieces were then sprinkled with apple granite. The various ways of drying the apple concentrated the flavour, with some sweet and some sour, plus fresh apple for a sharp crunch. The ice cream had the artichoke flavour but it was in such an unusual form, it was definitely the star of the dish. This was my favourite plate of the night by far.
As an ‘experiment’ it was a very enjoyable evening and I certainly didn’t miss having meat or fish for the night. The care and thought that went in to each course (we even had pumpkin cappuccino with petit fours afterwards) was incredible and was a dining experience to remember.
If you are interested in trying Ernst’s food for yourselves the restaurant a la carte menu is available along with a very special option to have a bespoke tasting menu created just for you. You have a consultation with Ernst to find out your favourite ingredients and then have the dishes made just for you. It’s perfect for a special occasion.
The food is definitely worth a trip out to Etrop Grange, and if it is a bit far to travel back – don’t forget it’s also a hotel!
Etrop Grange: Thorley Lane, Manchester Airport, Cheshire, M90 4EG
Tel: 0161 499 0500
Web site: etrophotel.co.uk
Photographs: Etrop Grange, Ernst van Zyl
This is not a sponsored blog post.
Other Chef’s Table articles: