Barristers is a one-of-a-kind high-end restaurant in Knutsford, and part of the equally unique Courthouse hotel (as reviewed here). It is, as the name suggests, the in-house restaurant for a former crown court, and as such the menu is laid out in an amusingly law-related manner.
Pre-meal samplers are now the ‘Opening Statement’, and there’s a nice mix on offer; everything from padron peppers, soft and not-too-hot, to standards like hummus, olives and bread.
A brightly coloured modernistic splash of curled octopus
The starters, or ‘Proceedings’ are where things get interesting, with the standout dish – praised by the head chef himself – being the braised octopus: a brightly coloured modernistic splash of curled octopus, surrounded by daubs of sweet potato, carrot and caraway puree, fondants, black garlic, basil crisps, chorizo and burnt lime salsa. It’s as adventurous as it sounds, and if you’re looking for the most forward-thinking food in Knutsford, well bang the gavel, you’re in the right place.
The menu has a nice mix of more traditional offerings though, such as tomato tatin, duck pate and beef cheeks, so don’t be wary if your palate errs on the more orthodox side of things.
Mains are as pleasingly English as you’d expect from a restaurant in a countryside area as beautiful as Knutsford, with short rib of beef, a very well-received rack of English lamb and duck breast all vying for attention. I opt for the guinea fowl, which has a nicely crisp skin, soft meat beneath and resting on an unusual bed of roast garlic and cannellini beans, with savoy cabbage, confit baby beetroot, parnsip and honey purée all turning up for the show. It’s a fine main, all pastoral flavours and gentle textures.
The deconstructed sticky toffee pudding shows just what the hugely-talented kitchen team are capable of
The dessert is arguably where Barristers shine brightly, with a deconstructed sticky toffee pudding showing just what the hugely-talented kitchen team are capable of. The pudding itself is soft and gooey, with big lumps of honeycomb, a little pot of sticky toffee to pour over it all, and a couple of wish-there-were-more blobs of fantastic ice cream, all prepared and made on site.
Barristers treads a fine line between fascinating fine dining and traditional hearty fare – much like the venue itself, which proves a lot more interesting than most places in this neck of the woods, even a little macabre, while still serving as a beautifully classical place to stay when visiting this neck of the woods.