Review: Sticky Walnut, Chester



Should I spend the intro waffling about Gary Usher, the owner of the Sticky Walnut who has crowd-funded four more well-loved bistros around the north-west of England on a wave of social media street cred and chutzpah? Nah, I’d rather talk about Chester.

You need to come and chill for a weekend in this city. It has the most amazing medieval half-timber colonnaded shopping streets. It has by far the best and completest city walls in England that you can walk around. It has canals below the walls. It has the beautiful River Dee running through it. It has wonderful fragmentary Roman remains including a shrine to Minerva and an amphitheatre. On a sunny day its red-brick and gritstone buildings look stately and feel soaked in history. Visually and historically it can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with York or Bath… it just needs more visitors, so the dining and shopping scenes have a chance of catching up! Well, at least there’s the Sticky Walnut.



It’s a cosy bistro tucked away in a hip suburb not far from the city, simple decor and friendly staff. Only four whites and four reds by the glass, but bottle were sensibly priced and we found a friendly Rioja to look after us.

My starter was a sturdy breadcrumbed brick of softly braised pig’s head, topped with cubes of sweetly caramelised apple and served with a blob of very splendid brown sauce (I might quibble at the menu calling it barbecue sauce). Yum. Maureen had a piece of tandoor-cooked cod, blackened on the surface but very soft and silken within; great technique, great result. The blob of “nori mayo” worked well with it, distinct sea flavour coming through.

For main I went duck. There was plentiful amounts of pink roast duck breast, all very decent. Far more decadent and vile (in a good way) was a small brioche bun stuffed full of softly shredded duck leg. Cor! And a shout-out to the punchy drizzle of spring onion oil, the rich blob of plum sauce, and the perfect al dente texture of the char-grilled cabbage chunk. Maureen meanwhile had a mighty chunk of amazing slow-braised featherblade, drowned in delicious sticky gravy. And nothing says “great neighbourhood bistro” like the fat truffle and parmesan chips that came with it.



It was necessary to have pudding. Maureen enjoyed an earl grey and brown butter rice pudding with Armagnac prunes. Who wouldn’t? The bergamot came through clearly among the otherwise earthy and comforting flavours. I went for the custard tart, because apparently you’re supposed to. The custard was light as a dream, the pastry was nutty brown and delicate. Smashin’.

Can’t help but love the Sticky Walnut. Three courses does almost hit £40 before drinks, though. I’ve had very good meals at places that throw in bread and an amuse for that amount. This is about as good as bistro cooking gets though, and I can’t imagine recommending anywhere else for your weekend break in Chester. You are coming, aren’t you?

Pig's head

Pig’s head

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>