‘Wallop (British): Alcoholic drink, Especially Beer’
Wine and Wallop are achieving exactly what they set out to – great wine, fantastic food and wonderful atmosphere in a gorgeous setting
Review by Catherine Ferguson Photography By KSP Photography
Like most folk who’ve visited the pretty little historic Cheshire market town, I’ve got a lot of love for Knutsford. With its cobbled streets, unusual architecture and hidden nooks and crannies, it’s a gem of a setting, not least for Elizabeth Gaskell, whose novel, Cranford, was based on the town.
Just when you think Knutsford couldn’t get any better, Wine and Wallop makes its entrance. Taking pride of place in the middle of King Street (locally known as Bottom Street, running parallel to Princess Street, which, you’ve guessed it, is also known as Top Street), it’s quite simply a breath of fresh air. Whilst Knutsford lays claim to many purveyors of fine food and drink, there’s nowhere quite like Wine and Wallop.
Owner, Justin Parkinson and his wife Katy, have used their background in quirky interior design to optimum effect, taking a rambling old building, and flipping things around. They’ve ripped out ceilings to expose stunning original beams, added knick knacks and signs from all over the world and an unusual but wonderfully eye-catching hotch potch of artwork.
Meander your way up the staircases and through a mini maze of wooden panelled corridors and you’ll be rewarded with a South-facing terrace garden festooned in Wisteria and oriental grasses. If, like us, you’re lucky enough to visit on a sun-soaked evening in late Spring, it should come with a warning – you’ll never want to leave. There’s a really mixed demographic and the whole thing is a real family affair, with the Parkinsons’ two young daughters scampering around the terrace, keen to help water the plants and sample the menu!
So the venue is spot on, but what about the food and wine? Well that’s pretty damn good too. A big part of Wine and Wallop’s raison d’être is their desire to serve great wine, without it costing the earth. With a weekly-changing ‘by the glass’ (or 500ml carafe) list handpicked from their full wine menu of more than 300 wines, I’d say they’ve hit the nail on the head. With a veritable smorgasbord of wines, it’s almost impossible to pluck out just a handful, but the Château Petit Roubie Picpoul de Pinet and Ormilles Provence Rosé both screamed sunshine in a glass and the Fleurie, Domaine de la Côte was just the ticket with some mouth-watering Nocellara olives and Jamon Iberico de Bellotta. Perhaps I’m showing my ignorance, but that night I also learned that the person whose job is to chop ham in Spain is called a cortador. It turns out every day really is a school day.
Despite the name, these guys aren’t just about offering a good tipple, there’s also a menu of small plates and more hearty dishes which, once again, seem that little bit different to other menus in the town. The brunch offering includes Ox Cheek Benedict or Pig Cheeks with BBQ glaze, hispi cabbage and a fried hen’s egg while the two course set menu (weekdays 12 – 7) is stonkingly good value at £13 for two courses, with asparagus, white bean humus and hazelnut pesto and pork belly, chorizo, squid and wild garlic mash to name but a few. The jewel in the crown for me was the octopus, risotto nero and samphire. I’m quite sure it was the best octopus I’ve eaten this side of the Med and the risotto was thick, rich and unwaveringly sumptuous.
It seems to me that Wine and Wallop are achieving exactly what they set out to – great wine, fantastic food, wonderful atmosphere and reasonable prices in a gorgeous setting. And just in case you were wondering, I’m reliably informed that ‘Wallop’ is a British informal noun for an alcohol drink, especially beer – at least that’s what George Orwell said in 1984 and that’s good enough for me.
Enquires: Wine and Wallop, 76 King Street, Knutsford, Cheshire / 01565 228429 / www.wineandwallop.co.uk/