The main drag in Altrincham has changed in a big way. Those who know the area of old may remember a time when the only culinary delight on offer in the vicinity was a vanilla slice from Spinks. Then suddenly, four years ago, the Market Hall was transformed into a haven for food fans and to this day you’ll be lucky to find an empty seat. The knock-on effect is that Altrincham as a whole has been reborn as a dining destination, with many premises beyond on the market relaunched as characterful, appealing bars and restaurants.
Blanchflower fits in nicely here, nestled right across the way from the market. Within it is a long, airy space which feels bright and welcoming, with cooks and bakers busy at work in plain sight. It has already established quite the reputation for its fine baking and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Now it’s launched a Sunday lunch menu, and Northern Soul has the privilege of being the very first to try it, purely by dint of being greedy and turning up extra early.
We went for the bread oven roasted topside of beef with Yorkshire pudding and red wine gravy, the most obviously ‘Sunday lunch’ option. Mind you, the beef was moist and flavoursome, about as far away as you can get from the dry slab of many a Sunday lunch. The Yorkshire was perfect too and generous enough to be shared with those of us foolish diners who’d failed to order it. The gilt head bream with lentil and watercress salad and preserved lemon was another hit – publicly declared to be a ‘bream dream’, in fact – delicately done and contrasting wonderfully with the lentils.
There was also a fine snack dish, namely house cured salmon with capers, lemon and sourdough, which went down a treat and was very nearly up to the standard of the bream. Plus, the accompanying vegetables were plentiful, fresh as you like and cooked to perfection. The cheeseboard was also generous and varied and came with an array of sliced sourdough and crackers.
The only real weak spot here was the desserts. The white and dark chocolate cherry trifle was overpowering in an 80s dinner party kind of way, all intense flavours and not enough subtlety. Similarly the warm chocolate brownie, complete with hot fudge sauce and caramel ice cream, was an undiluted cocoa and sugar rush. To be fair, though, the counter at Blanchflower is crammed with all manner of delicious sweet, baked treats and the pain au chocolate we squeezed in managed to beat the actual desserts into a cocked hat.
Blanchflower is in a great spot and it evidently has plenty to offer. All told, the Sunday lunch menu might not always show it off at its very best, but that’s mostly just niggling. You’re bound to appreciate it if you enjoy fine fish or meat or bread or vegetables or cakes. So basically, food, then. In short, give that chocolate cherry trifle the swerve and it’s well worth a visit.