A few weeks ago, my cousin told me that she’d gone to an absolutely brilliant restaurant up in an attic down some back alley in Stockport. “You’d never even guess it was there”, she said and I was intrigued … but also dubious. “Stockport? – oh really, what’s it called again?”, I said (no offence, people of Stockport). And so I added Where the Light Gets In to my (very long) list of restaurants to visit…
A week later, my other half made a surprise booking at said restaurant for my birthday (he does listen!) and off we went on the train to Stockport for the mid-week taster menu. It took about 15 mins to walk to the restaurant from Stockport train station. We nearly missed the back alley off Lower Hillgate; a side street in Stockport Old Town with some interesting indie shops and cafes (rare magazine shop anyone?) I don’t know this area very well, but I’ve heard that there is a burgeoning food and drink scene driven by independent businesses like Where the Light Gets In which are putting the Old Town on the map.
I don’t want to spoil the fun of actually finding the restaurant but it is quite hidden so here’s a picture of the door to help you… (or not!)
It really is a beautiful loft space – high beamed ceilings, exposed brick walls, huge mill windows. Really open and airy, yet warm and cosy at the same time. We were invited to sit in the living room (?) area which had to-die-for MCM vibes and a log burner. Massive thumbs up for the decor.
We started with some sweetcorn tea – a warm salty but sweet popcorn-like drink made from the corn that they dry themselves up on the rafters.
Our table was one of three that night so it felt very intimate and special. The kitchen is completely open so we could watch everything in the kitchen from prep to service. I felt like I was in a super secret supper club.
One of the interesting things about Where the Light Gets In is that they have an option for a juice pairing as well as a wine pairing. This is rare and much appreciated from my point of view. I think high-end restaurants are missing a trick by only offering wine pairings – yes, lots of people drink and love wine, but also there’s a growing number of people who would actively choose a non-alcoholic pairing (shock, horror) whether it be for personal or religious reasons. In my case, I don’t particularly enjoy wine. Plus wine pairings in particular get me absolutely wasted, and this was a school night!
Blind tasting menu
It’s a blind menu so it was a complete surprise what we were going to eat! I think this makes the meal more exciting! There is also no written menu so each course is explained to you by one of the chefs which is a lovely experience and very personal. I felt that they really love what they do and care about where the produce is from. I’ll confess that I did have to take some notes so that I could write this post since I have a memory like a sieve!
Our first and second courses had an oyster theme – dried cabbage crisps, red and white with an oyster mayonnaise. Beautiful presentation and god, it was moreish! It was paired with a camomile kombucha that had a very light, almost alcohol taste. Very cool.
The second oyster dish was a beautiful raw oyster in smoked apple and camomile. Perfectly fresh and juicy.
The bread course was paired with a Fiesta apple presse – very exotic sounding, right? But it’s actually an English variety! We had home-made bread and butter with ham. Excellent bake on the bread; no soggy bottoms here. We loved the bread’o’saurus rack too!
How cute is the next dish? Rainbow trout with pickled cherries and the surprise ingredient – vanilla! The trout was lightly cured for 2 hours so it still tasted lovely and fresh.
The mushroom porridge made with spelt and emmer was one of my favourite dishes of the night. Better than any mushroom risotto I’ve ever had, so rich and mushroomy. I think there was a mushroom purée underneath which tasted amazing. I’ve only had raw mushrooms once – another thing that my sister forced me to try once and I hated it, but it really worked here!
The next juice was golden beetroot, which I must admit was not my favourite, purely because I am not a fan of beetroot! I will say that golden beetroot is quite mild and far less ‘earthy’ tasting than red beetroot though and my other half liked it, so I think it was just me being iffy about beetroot.
The fish course was sea bass – my favourite! The fish is sustainably caught in small boats and was fresh that day. The rest of the dish used leeks – fermented, in a broth and leek oil, which emphasises the restaurant’s ‘no waste’ philosophy. This dish was lovely, both in taste and presentation but you’ll have to take my word for it … in my haste to scoff it I forgot to take a snap!
The main meat course was chicken thigh with sprout tops and pickled plum. Well seasoned, uber tender and moist, and the chicken skin was perfect. Not a lot of places would choose chicken as their main course but this chicken was different. It sounds silly, but it really did taste ‘chicken-y’ for the want of a better word. It must be down to the quality of the chicken because Tesco chicken does NOT taste like that! The plum root beer was great too. I learnt that root beer is literally made with the roots of whatever the drink is. So plum root beer is made with plum stones! (I know the clue is in the name… but I didn’t click!)
Last up, the dessert. A tiny apple, cored and filled with fermented berry jam and wrapped up in a buttery pastry. Served on top of a thick cold custard – ohhh I loved it! Who says apple pie can’t be original!
The end of a wonderful evening
We finished the evening off with a coffee and a toasted rice green tea. They brought us some little jammy biscuits which were really cute. The restaurant was also fundraising for the owner Sam’s Jordan trek with a lucky dip. The idea being that you make a donation and then pick a lucky dip prize depending on the amount of the donation! The prizes have been donated by the restaurant’s artisan friends – and I was lucky enough to choose one of the bowls that the oyster was served in!
I had a fabulous birthday dinner at Where the Light Gets In. The food was seriously good and I was impressed by everything; the decor, the service, the food, the drinks, even the wooden sink in the bathroom! One of the most authentic places I have eaten at. The heart and soul of this place is truly evident and sets it apart from most other restaurants in Manchester. I highly recommend – please do pay them a visit and support our independent businesses!
If you liked this post, you might be interested in my review of Skosh, another amazing independent restaurant in York, England.