Has John Sutton had the best lunch ever in Chester restaurant?
URBAN animals are often demonised – "A fox tried to eat my baby" –– scream the headlines, or for residents of Gibraltar, thieving, snatching not-scared-of-you-anymore monkeys are a scourge of island life.
But nothing strikes more fear than an erratically flying pigeon – whizzing down a busy street like a spitfire that's been through the battleship painting workshop – banking the millisecond before it takes your eye out with it's beak.
I welcome any enterprise that makes the lunchtime constitutional about town less hazardous, and putting the ubiquitous game on a plate at Sticky Walnut in Chester does just that.
All the more impressive was this particular flying rat had been locally shot, the menu boasted – so much more imaginative than all that locally sourced drivel you read elsewhere.
And this restaurant being in Hoole, the sort of ‘hood chock full of Range Rovers and shops selling organic chutney and handmade edible cupcake glitter, it was probably plucked by someone with a subscription to Cheshire Life.
Sticky walnut couldn’t be further from pretentious estate-agent-made-good types though. It’s distressed wooden tables, bottles of tap water jazzed up with a mint sprig and chatty staff in simple white T shirts and aprons lend the sort of informality suited to a leisurely Saturday lunch.
The only necessary part is booking first. This place is popular and small. If you want to go for dinner at the weekend you need to give a couple of weeks notice.
It was afternoon – just – so we started with drinks. Mrs-to-be had a Cosmopolitan (£6) and I went for what they called a Posh Gin and Tonic (£5). It was fancy, it came with botanicals, or slices of lime, lemon and orange peel, and block ice that didn’t melt to nothing in minutes. A pleasing start.
Mrs-to-be no longer eats bread, so we were forced to forgo the herby bread first course and went straight to the starters.
This bread ban doesn’t, I discovered, extend to breadcrumbs, which were fried in rapeseed oil and scattered liberally over the plate of roasted pumpkin, beetroot, sage and fresh goat’s curd (£5).
A prettier arrangement of warm colours I’ve never seen. All orange and purple and healthy looking without being boring. They were devoured, right down to the last tinged, yellowish crumb.