After a decade in business, The Sticky Walnut in Hoole still draws diners from near and far to Chester’s village in the city, with an unpretentious vibe and world-class cooking.
The Hoole restaurant is where it all began for Gary Usher, the former commis chef at The Chester Grosvenor and now owner of six award-winning Elite Bistros across the North West, including Didsbury, Manchester, Liverpool, Wirral, Prescot and Chester.
Usher fondly refers to The Sticky Walnut as “the mothership” and it’s fair to say that it’s still much-loved by Hoolites and tourists alike, with tables getting booked up well in advance.
The Rebel Chef might have a reputation as a keyboard warrior, but he’s actually responsible for quite a culture change in fine dining. His mission? To bring good value, exceptional food, to the masses. He’s also a bloody brilliant cook. But Gary doesn’t like to talk about that. It’s all about the team, and what a brilliant bunch they are, with bags of expertise, enthusiasm and warmth. The whole place is refreshingly down to earth, decked out with books and bottles and old photographs that make it feel like a home from home.
The menu is rustic European with a creative twist, inventive but not wacky, and served beautifully in proper bowls and plates. Diners talk about dishes that will stay with them forever. That might sound over the top, but once you’ve tried the braised featherblade of beef with truffle and parmesan chips, then you might just become a believer too.
The chef’s here are quite partial to a cheaper chop or a bit of game or offal and it’s perfect for trying a piece of meat that you would have no idea what to do with at home. A starter of crispy duck hearts is served with cucumber, gherkin and black garlic ketchup, while a sticky pork knuckle main is accompanied with a smoked celeriac purée and braised red cabbage.
Puddings are creamy and naughty and the wine list boasts plenty of names that you probably won’t have tried before. If you love food then you have to try The Sticky Walnut. Sorry Hoole, but your best kept secret is about to get bigger.