At the risk of going on about the weather again, it was hard to not get a bit excited when we finally saw some sunshine last week. Especially after that particularly gruesome winter, which just didn't know when to pack it in. If you ask me, few places benefit more from a bit of solar radiation than the area round Altrincham market, which seems to buzz even louder when drenched in a summery glow.
And as our luck was in, that’s where we found ourselves the other day, at brand-new bakery, Blanchflower. During the more dismal months, they’ve been busy producing the sort of pickles, preserves, salads and sarnies that sound like my idea of the ideal picnic, so with spring firmly in the air, the venue is really coming into its own.
Dinner is also now on the menu too, during the second half of the week at least, and in the evening you’ll find a nicely drawn selection of dishes that further espouse their values of making from scratch wherever possible but not over complicating things either. With that in mind we popped down to see what happens at Blanchflower once the breakfasters, brunchers and lunchers have gone home.
This being primarily a bakery, you can expect to find yourself sampling some gluten-packed goodness and we munched through slices of a sourdough or two as well as some grissini and, best of all, chilli-spiked wafer-thin crisp breads.
Serving bar snacks like this frito misto is a sure fire way to make sure no one’s going to leave any time soon. The lightest airy batter roughly coated our bits of baby calamari, chunks of haddock and plump king prawns. A dip in the citrus mayo completed something oh-so-simple but absolutely spot on nonetheless.
Save a little bread perhaps for the three day rare cured beef if you order it, this is a bit like a deconstructed sandwich you could say, comprising meat, leaves and carrot chutney. The flowery flavour of parsley oil and micro herbs alongside fermented carrot shavings and parsnip crisps make for a delicious collection of tasty things, that all bring out the best in each other.
Buttery smooth, home cured salmon you can sliver with the edge of your fork had the sort of luscious mouth-feel you won’t forget in a hurry. Pickled cucumber did just enough to take my mind off it for a moment, sharply cutting through the richness with acidic crunch.
Main courses continued to try their best to not fuss too much. A moist, meaty pressing of richly flavoured ox cheek and tail with mash, gravy and fresh springtime greenery is more than enough to make me happy most of the time.
Better still though, the lamb neck fillet was preposterously tender and just delicately herbed. A splash of broad beans, shoots of wild garlic and a sort of pea sauce, smoother than the mushy stuff but close to it in flavour, played the perfect support act. Everything felt balanced, fresh and seasonal.
After other impressive baked goods, I was fully expecting the pastry to be on point and was proven right with both of our desserts. First a light slice of creamy custard tart, perfumed with orange and cardamom hit the spot. I’m a big fan of more traditional desserts these day to be honest, and the simplicity of this pudding, with just a little poached rhubarb and candied orange on the side to pique interest, really shone through.
Similarly the apple tart with almond streusel topping was a celebration of the power of flour, butter and sugar plus a bit of know-how. A slightly savoury, dry delight of crust with just enough fruit and a dollop of creme fraiche ice cream to saturate matters.
12-14 Shaw’s Rd, Altrincham WA14 1QU
0161 929 6724