Nutters, Rochdale, UK

Rochdale, December 2014

As the road to Rosendale winds its way towards the brooding moors, Nutters Restaurant sits, grandiose in six acres of its own grounds, an imposing Victorian manor house complete with Gothic arches, fully and aptly furnished to house the culinary talents of celebrity chef Andrew Nutter.

Learning his trade in the great kitchens of the Savoy and a host of Michelin starred châteaux in France, Andrew Nutter has earned a worthy reputation for crafting innovative yet hedonistic dishes from local and seasonal produce, no more so perhaps, than under the roof of his own ambitious venture. Along with one of the most impressive wine lists in the north of England, a tireless work ethic and a genuine passion for honest food has ensured Nutters is a raving success. I went to find out more.

Heavy traffic, winter drizzle and a quintessential Manchester sky ensured my arrival on the edge of the Peak District was met with a worthy appetite and the need for substance as well as aesthetics. There was no sign of disappointment. Welcomed in what almost feels like a boutique hotel reception, one is seated immediately in a modern lounge area and greeted with an infusion of northern delicacies, placed, as is proper, alongside the timeless notes of Champagne.

Canapés of mini lobster fritters, ham hock croutes and Bury black pudding wonton complimented Joseph Perrier's crisp and fruity non vintage brut. Moving through to the dining room, a chilled glass of little known Venetian grape variety Nosiola emerged, alongside artisanal fare such as Tomberry, Rothbury red focaccia and black pudding bread. Lightly spiced butternut squash soup with cheddar and coriander cookies swiftly followed. The intensity and balance of flavour was already evident and would remain throughout.

A full and textured South African white from the highly acclaimed Waterkloof estate partnered a fillet of brill with black bean crumb, shiitake mushroom and pak choi stir fry, accompanied to great enjoyment by a soy and ginger broth. The yeasty complexity of ripe Chardonnay, part fermented in large oak casks, offset the course's inherent salinity. Another impressive pairing!

The best was saved until last. A leg of duck confit and caramelised Goosnargh duck breast with creamy cabbage and sweet potato fondent, reciprocated by decanted Chateau Musar 2004. Ethereal Lebanese Cinsualt from the Bekka Valley and the succulence of fatly textured duck is a partnership of unwavering quality.

To finish, Kopke's 1978 Colheita Port provided a splash of sweetness to moisten a symphony of sticky toffee pudding, white chocolate cheesecake with Oreo crumb, raspberry and almond crème brûlée, chocolate brownie ice cream and lest we forget, peach and almond frangipan.

Port is often seen as an antiquated move, especially with the abundance of obscure and hip stickies in circulation. Not so. Luscious prune, fruit cake, roasted hazelnut, warm alcohol and the decadent finish of jammy compote ensured a final flourish, the slight seed of Christmas opportunely planted.