David Adamson takes a swing at the lunch menu in very pleasant surroundings

You'd be forgiven for thinking that golf clubs' cafes and restaurants are something of an afterthought. Some soup or a club sandwich before 18 holes; something to soak up a few pints of lager after a day on the course; a bit of ballast to keep mind and body steady as you try to tackle a tricky par three. 

But clubs like Allerton Manor are often more than a series of outbuildings, and the rooms are often more than just somewhere to pass through and exchange pleasantries. 

People spend an awful lot of time in places like this, so you want to feel in some way at home, especially when it comes to being fed.

2024 06 20 Old Stables Review Exterior
Outside The Old Stables at Allerton Moor Golf Club Image: Confidentials

I drove into Allerton Manor Golf Club and was struck by two things. Firstly, the manicured course and tidy avenues of trees and shrubbery, inviting you in and closing out the world outside. Secondly, that the sun was shining. 

The building itself is handsome and not over-embellished, which considering it was once a stables might surprise you. After all these structures were built for housing horses and lets call it mucking out.

The interior of The Old Stables is all understated wooden beams, floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights to allow the sun, when it's shining, to flood in. It's a simple, comfortable setting that regulars - many of whom file in over the course of my lunchtime - clearly feel at home in.

2024 06 20 Old Stables Review Interior
Inside The Old Stables Image: Confidentials

The lunch menu has enough of what you'd expect from a golf club restaurant - the sorts of solid if unspectacular choices like fish and chips or a beef burger - but delve a little deeper and much of what makes up the lunchtime offering is far more interesting. 

There's grazing boards and frito misto, croque monsieur, steak frites sandwiches on focaccia, and a grilled haloumi and dukkah spiced new potato salad. I'd imagine none of these dishes were demanded onto the menu and yet they're on there. I chose from the part of the menu that often contains the dishes where the kitchen can put more of its creativity to good use - light bites, small plates, call it what you like. The smaller stuff.

2024 06 20 Old Stables Review Table
Summer threatens to start Image: Confidentials

I started with the roasted shallot soup (£7), with truffle creme fraiche, root vegetable crisps and two slices of sourdough toast topped with melted Smoked Applewood cheddar and chives. 

The soup, full of well-balanced, earthy flavours, had the depth of something that's sat simmering on the hob all morning. Speaking as someone who, whenever they end up rattling a few pans, will almost certainly include shallots and garlic, I know that if simmered away and kept from the brink of being burnt, these most beautiful of root vegetables will keep discovering new depths. 

But just in case soup doesn't quite get the cogs whirring quite enough, the slices of toasted sourdough, crusts sweet and chewy, with the smokey cheddar make for a more than satisfying starter.

2024 06 20 Old Stables Review Shallot Soup Bread
Roasted shallot soup Image: Confidentials

While something from the mains side would have possibly proved too much, making up a full three courses barely before 1pm, - the sort of undertaking that would have you nodding off in the seat of your golf cart - there were dishes in the lighter bites that suited perfectly. Namely the Salt Beef Hash (£13).

Salted beef brisket sat on top of sauteed potatoes, onions, a black garlic and onion marmalade and topped with a fried duck egg. This is exactly my idea of what I'd eat to power me up for a day either ambling around the course, or to power me up for sitting on the sun-drenched patio with friends and having some Saturday pints. 

This wasn't shy of making the most of what are powerful flavours in black garlic, onion and the astringent delights of a good savoury marmalade. The salt beef was well seasoned and plentiful, the potatoes well cooked but also having that fluffy interior from being a bit longer in the tooth (old potatoes are the best) and allowed to soak up the earthier, oniony tones. Crack a runny egg over that and you've got a rich and satisfying lunch that will make you feel either like you could run through a brick wall, or like you wouldn't mind a doze. But then that's what espresso is there for.

2024 06 20 Old Stables Review Salt Beef Hash
Salt beef hash Image: Confidentials

Finally, for dessert I went for the Blood Orange and Vanilla Panna Cotta (£8) with roasted rhubarb and ginger crumb. This is a lovely dessert just to look at, but then outside of Instagram these things are to be greedily eaten rather than ogled at. A canny and colourful repurposing of a classic, it actually tasted of blood orange, which when trying to imbue subtler and more hard to pin down flavours like blood orange is not straightforward. The rhubarb, given the right level of pulverising in the oven to release those summertime notes, gave that sweet smack in the face while the ginger rounded off any saccharine edges very well. A lovely and surprisingly light end to proceedings.

2024 06 20 Old Stables Review Panna Cotta
Blood Orange and Vanilla Panna Cotta Image: Confidentials

The Old Stables does the basic job of being the food and drink base of a golf club very well. But I would say that the menu, service and attractive decor (inside and out) are stretching at something more, and if not grabbing it with both hands, certainly coming within touching distance. It feels like a place that should be something of a base of operations not just for golfers and retirees, but more generally for those in the area who like good food and pleasant surroundings. More than a golf club, it could feel like a home from home.  

The Old Stables, Allerton Manor Golf Club, L18 3JT

2024 06 20 Old Stables Review Course
The Old Stables, Allerton Manor Golf Club Image: Confidentials

The Scores

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, and ALWAYS paid for by Confidentials.com and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.

If you want to see the receipt as proof this magazine paid for the meal then a copy will be available upon request. Or maybe ask the restaurant.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their type. What we mean by this is a restaurant which aspires to be fine dining is measured against other fine dining restaurants, a mid-range restaurant against other mid-range restaurants, a pizzeria against other pizzerias, a teashop against other teashops, a KFC against the contents of your bin. You get the message.

Given the above, this is how we score: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: sigh and shake your head, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: nothing's that good is it?

  • Food 7.5/10

    Roasted shallot soup 7.5, Salt beef hash 7.5, Blood orange and vanilla panna cotta 7.5

  • Service 4/5

    Cheery and charming

  • Ambience 4/5

    A lovely, light-filled room, I'd imagine especially in the height of summer