David Adamson takes a butchers inside the family-run neighbourhood restaurant

Recommendations for restaurants can sometimes be a bit of a godsend, as planning places to visit in the coming months can feel like presiding over a war room, pushing counters and figures around a flattened North West. Today we take Trafford. Next week, Warrington. 

I was sat in Harcourt in Altrincham back in January and got chatting with someone at the bar about my work, and he asked if I'd been to Frodsham. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't heard much about the place outside of it once being under the yoke of 'Lord of the Manor of Frodsham', Liverpool's Djibril Cissé.

Thankfully there's now a much more reputable, and higher-scoring, name associated with this handsome market town; Main Street's family-run restaurant Next Door.

When there's a cultish buzz about a neighbourhood restaurant, and the locals are beaming with pride, you know they're onto something

Set in the timber-framed, seventeenth century building that was long a butcher's shop run by owner Vicki's family, Next Door is a similarly close-knit affair, with Vicki as sommelier and husband Richard as chef patron. The beams are older than most nation states and the decor of the place is very tasteful. Coming from the 17th century should be impressive enough, but with the final tweaks made to the interior during the lockdown months it is now an understated delight to look at. 

2024 03 25 The Next Door Exterior
Outside Next Door Image: @restaurant_nextdoor
2024 03 25 The Next Door Interior
Inside Next Door Image: Confidentials

The same approach has been carried through to the menu, which is modern in the way you've perhaps come to expect; less is more. No rackety brass band of ingredients or dish descriptions the length of a manifesto, much of the lunch menu was a series of well-balanced quartets.

A basket of two small loaves of bread was brought to the table, that torturous pre-starter temptation that's just too hard to pass up. These were rapeseed oil and poppy seed loaves, beautifully sweet from the oil and poppy seeds and perfectly fluffy inside. The portion of salted butter was more than plenty, but I would have found a way to finish more of it I'm sure.

2024 03 25 The Next Door Bread
Rapeseed oil and poppy seed loaves Image: Confidentials

I took my mum for a Friday late lunch - the menu a manageable three courses for £35 - and to start I chose the cured salmon, sorrel, scallop coral and hen's yolk. It's of course a familiar face on menus, but when cured salmon is done right it's surely one of the titans of this sort of dining; a star ingredient that elevates everything around it without needing to shout too loudly. 

It arrived in an artful little arrangement, the ingredients delicately dressed and the portion that size of starter that, while the right amount, will only make you more ravenous in that slightly sadistic way that only a chef would consider. 

It was sprightly but not lacking in significant punch and flavour, which for an understated fish like salmon is not an easy feat. Meanwhile my mum chose the salt aged carver duck with 'bitter leaves, aromatic spice, fruit, nut'. Again, I like the simple sentence approach to menus, as you're not sure what configuration it's all going to turn up in. You just trust in the process, and so you should. This was as delicious, if not more, than the salmon.

2024 03 25 The Next Door Cured Salmon
Cured salmon, sorrel, scallop coral and hen's yolk Image: Confidentials
2024 03 25 The Next Door Duck Jpg
Salt aged carver duck with bitter leaves, aromatic spice, fruit, nut Image: Confidentials

With menus like this, if you're a table of two, you often end up carving up the choices between you so that you've essentially seen most of what's on offer. I chose the wild venison with anise, turnip, sage and swede. Mum went for North Sea cod with smoked eel, lettuce and young leek. That just about covers it from land to sea. 

I have to say, mum may have won the battle with the starter but I definitely won the war. The venison was utterly beautiful, given an earthy, sweet and addictively unusual tang by the anise, one of the great ingredients when applied to the right dish and allowed to show off its distinct, slightly disorientating flavours. The turnip and swede complimented it very well with their rooty character and of course there was an extra little pot of jus. You're here to enjoy yourself, after all. The cod was also very nice, but the venison was something a little bit special.

2024 03 25 The Next Door Venison
Wild venison with anise, turnip, sage and swede Image: Confidentials
2024 03 25 The Next Door Cod
North Sea cod with smoked eel, lettuce and young leek Image: Confidentials

Dessert could have gone the way of the chocolate sponge, but I'm never drawn immediately to chocolate desserts. Lemon balm brulee with basil ice cream and polenta, however. There's far too many interesting ideas in there for me to not dive in. 

As we first sat down the couple who were just leaving were obviously so taken with this dessert that they just had to suggest it. That's all the encouragement I needed. 

What a dainty, well-executed gem of a dessert. The brulee was lightly lemony while still holding a strong citrusy character - no wince-inducing posset here - and the polenta crisp could be packaged up and multiplied for me to eat endlessly. But the basil ice cream was an absolute joy. I could see why the couple before felt the need to speak up. Consider me converted. 

2024 03 25 The Next Door Lemon Brulee
Lemon balm brulee with basil ice cream and polenta Image: Confidentials

Alongside this, to drink we had a glass of Kloovenburg chardonnay from South Africa (£11.50). Well, mum had two. I was driving (bloody Cheshire). It was an absolute knockout of interesting, intersecting notes all balancing out into something truly well chosen. A fabulous sign of the level of thought applied to this place by owners Vicki and Richard Nuttall. 

2024 03 25 The Next Door Interior 2
Inside Next Door Image: Confidentials

When we left and went a few doors down into the wine and cheese shop, we got chatting with the owner, who was a fully paid up disciple of Next Door, as it seems many are. When there's a cultish buzz about a neighbourhood restaurant, and the locals are beaming with pride, you know they're onto something. 

Next Door has impressively already racked up the usual accolades - Three AA Rosettes, Michelin and Good Food Guide entries - but the true testament to the reputation of its food can be found in the fact that some random bloke in Altrincham suggested I go there, when there were plenty of restaurants closer to home. 

Forget your Lords of the Manor and the fact Gary Barlow grew up here, Frodsham has got a new and more than deserving point of local pride; take a trip into Cheshire and book a table at Next Door. 

Next Door, 68 Main St, Frodsham WA6 7AU

Next Door is on Confidential Guides

Recommended by Confidential Guides

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 9/10

    Cured salmon 8.5, Venison 9, lemon balm brulee 9

  • Service 4.5/5

    The levels of easy-going but attentive service that makes an afternoon sail by.

  • Ambience 4.5/5

    Relaxed but buzzy with locals. Would love to have a bottle of wine in the courtyard in the summer months