David Adamson rounds off the week with a modern British bistro dinner

It's Friday. You've slogged all week through late trains, leftovers for lunch and whatever drivel has occupied social media, suffered the slings and arrows of the working grind and are now ready to, what exactly? 

Hit the pub and dive headlong into comforting nonsense? 

Lie down on the sofa, switch off and become an empty vessel for the evening? 

Or go for dinner? 

It can sometimes be hard to gather the enthusiasm to get dressed up, hop on the tram and go for a sit down meal. And sometimes it's exactly what you need.

2024 07 01 Blancflower Alty Exterior
Outside Blanchflower, Altrincham Image: Confidentials

Blanchflower Altrincham started its '7 Fridays of Dinner' weekly menu in early June and it will continue through until 23 August. So in the interests of trying out a limited edition I booked a table for two and met my brother off the tram in the bustling food and drink emporium that is now Altrincham. 

As someone who doesn't eat enough bread to justify buying a loaf of sourdough and avoids pricier coffee almost as a matter of principle, I'd never been to Blanchflower. But then there was never the promise of a bistro menu. Now that there is, I beat a path to their door.

2024 07 01 Blanchflower Alty Interior
Inside Blanchflower, Altrincham Image: Confidentials

Sitting on a prime spot across from Altrincham Market, where the pedestrianised streets invite a lively buzz about the place, Blanchflower couldn't really be in a better position during the day. But once the sun's over the yardarm a coffee and pastry just doesn't cut it. What you need is a proper dinner.

2024 07 01 Blancflower Alty 7 Fridays Dinner
7 Fridays of Dinner Image: Confidentials

The menu makes a virtue of that simple bistro plating; one star of the show in the form of a cut of meat or piece of fish, interesting uses of vegetables (perhaps by pickling or a chutney of sorts) and a sauce or oil emulsion to sail away upon. For his starter Will went for barbecue glazed monkfish, pickled apple, soft herb salad and cauliflower cream (£13) and got all of the above, not to mention a portion size that towered above most entrées. It's certainly not all about how much bang you're getting for your buck, but it's still nice to know.

2024 07 01 Blanchflower Alty Monkfish
Barbecue glazed monkfish Image: Confidentials

I chose something that when I spot it on menus I always gravitate towards, if not always choose; chicken liver parfait, in this instance with toasted brioche, rhubarb ginger ketchup, date pickle and endive (£11). To put it in the plainest terms, this was gorgeous. No ifs, buts and clarifications, just a beautiful balance of ingredients executed wonderfully. Dishes like liver parfait (that is, French-leaning) are of course slightly indulgent, but this was a culinary speedball that would have Lou Reed drooling and lolling on the banquettes. 

The brioche was toasted in name but on the plate was much more, as if it had been soaked in a bath of butter all afternoon before being dunked into a deep fryer. We've all had toast before but this was entirely different. Toast that's come into money. 

The parfait was beautiful; a plush velvet texture with oceans of depth and complexity, when combined with the tart, fruity notes of rhubarb and date, along with the peppery jab of endive, this was as delicate as it was decadent.

2024 07 01 Blancflower Alty Chicken Liver Parfait
Chicken liver parfait Image: Confidentials

Will and I decided on the same main course, too strong was the magnetic pull of what was offered; pan roast cod, lobster cream, buttered sweetheart cabbage, sea herbs, leeks, chive oil and clams (£22). This was a wonderful exercise in simplicity of flavour; aside from the cabbage and leeks an ode to the sea and the flavours that only it can deliver. 

The pan roast cod was perfectly done, the flesh cooked to the degree that crucially avoids that flaky point from which there's no return. The skin was crispy and not overly seasoned, meaning the plump piece of fish could more than stand up to the other flavours on the plate. After all it had to make room for the lobster bisque, such are the broad shoulders and sharp elbows of such a sauce that it can overwhelm all around it. The clams, a centrepiece of their own in plenty of dishes, were bumped to a supporting role here but lent the unctuous tang of shellfish that added those final top notes to a very well rounded dish. There was also extra bisque in little saucepans, which really upped the opulence of it all. Fantastic. 

2024 07 01 Blancflower Alty Cod And Clams
Pan roast cod Image: Confidentials

We had a bottle of white with the above, a Moroccan chardonnay no less in the form of a Domaine la Zouina, 'Epicuria' Chardonnay 2023, and it did all you'd hope from a good chardonnay; rounded off the notes and flavours of complex dishes while bringing its own robust personality to the party.

2024 07 01 Blancflower Alty Bottle White
Domaine la Zouina, 'Epicuria' Chardonnay 2023 Image: Confidentials

Finally for dessert Will chose the evening-ending sticky date and toffee pudding with candied pecans, vanilla mascarpone, toffee sauce and granola snap (£9). While he was flattened by the thing by about three quarters through, he took the rest home to be snaffled on the sofa, then no doubt to bed. 

2024 07 01 Blanchflower Alty Sticky Toffee Pudding
Sticky date and toffee pudding Image: Confidentials

I opted for the lighter side of things with the strawberries and cream, burnt white chocolate, vanilla ganache, strawberry sponge, vanilla strawberry puree and meringue (£9). It may not sound light, going off the paragraph of ingredients, but it was that perfect sort of dessert for when you definitely want something but don't want to be winched out of the place when you've finished. The addition of the sponge, ganache and meringue did wonders in lifting what is a beautifully simple dessert in strawberries and cream into something that feels a little bit more dressy.

2024 07 01 Blancflower Alty Strawb And Cream
Strawberries and cream Image: Confidentials

Who'd have thought a bakery would deliver to this level? 

It's a very clever move on Blanchflower's part to set its parameters in this way; showing the sort of vaulting ambition that is appreciated by people who enjoy going out to eat, but only one day a week. Without overreaching it has managed to reassert what it is exactly, and show the sort of ability and potential that it can fulfil from now into next week. 

Yes it's only on Fridays, but then they say you should always leave your audience wanting more. I'll be booking in again, no matter how much the sirens call of the sofa beckons at the end of a long week. 

Blanchflower, 12-14 Shaw's Road, Altrincham, WA14 4EF

2024 07 01 Blancflower Alty Mirror View
Blanchflower, Altrincham Image: Confidentials

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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 8.5/10

    Chicken liver parfait 9, roast cod with lobster bisque 8.5, strawberries and cream 8

  • Service 4/5

    Smiley, easygoing presence with the knowledge of the dishes to back it up

  • Ambience 4/5

    Relaxed atmosphere and lack of pretension is helped by its day job as a bakery. Also a great choice of tunes never hurts