As long as I have lived in Peterborough, The Cherry House at Werrington has been the byword for fine dining – its reputation seemingly enhanced with every passing year.
It certainly has some rivals of course, the excellent Clarkes in the city centre for one, but to be still going strong under the patronage of Andrew Corrick after nigh on two decades, they must be doing something right.
There is the place itself; a quirky little stone-built white cottage with imposing thatched roof which just oozes charm and character.
This is mirrored by the interior, which is plain but in keeping with a listed 17th century building.
We were greeted at the bar, offered drinks and shown to a nearby table while we cast an eye over the menu - British with a nod to classic French you might say - and tucked into a complimentary bowl of olives, not something you see too regularly these days.
Our choices made, including a vibrant and fruity French colombard sauvignon (palateable and reasonable at £14.50), we were shown to our table - not in the main room where I have dined previously amidst the very enjoyable hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant on a weekend, but in the adjoining room replete with large and welcoming open fire. A good thing, given there were just a dozen or so diners on the night (England were playing).
The table d’hote menu comes in at £26.95 for three courses, which is reasonable. One word of warning, one of the starters had a £3.95 supplement and steaks came at a higher premium, so it is easy to quickly bump up the cost.
I have developed a growing fondness for forcemeat and didn’t need much persuading to try the homemade duck and Grand Marnier terrine. Occasionally coarse and overpowering, this was quite smooth with a delicate gaminess about it - and a tinge of oranginess. It came with toasted brioche, so light it could have floated off the plate.
Donna is the fish-lover, and raved about the Caesar salad with fresh anchovies and a Parmesan crisp. The crisp proved a nice foil to the freshness of the salad and fish. For a starter, she says, as good as it gets, frankly. The anchovies, often salty, were wonderfully fresh and tasty.
The mains menu just about covers all tastes but medallions of venison was always going to be difficult to ignore.
The meat was beautiful, the braised red cabbage a delight and the rich port and sage just an incredible taste sensation and oh so rich. The fruitiness of the poached pear was the finishing touch the dish was crying out for.
True to form, Donna went for the baked fillet of salmon filled with a spinach mousse, wrapped in a trellis of puff pastry, an elegant dish baked to perfection, with a chive butter sauce on the side.
Great care had also been taken with the presentation and the preparation of the plated side orders of fresh veg including individual servings of the wonderfully moreish dauphinoise potatoes.
Donna finished off with cheese and biscuits, a decent selection of French and English, with a creamy camembert standing out, while I punished myself with a melt-in-the mouth sponge pudding topped with ice cream and rich butterscotch sauce.
Coffee and handmade petit fours rounded things of nicely justifying the Cherry House’s billing as a great place to eat.
The food of course is paramount, but it is the little things such as impeccable service (I can’t remember the last time a waitress cleared crumbs from the table between courses as happened here), the olives on arrival, fresh bread rolls before starers arrived –I could go on – that make a difference.
So, here’s to the next 20 years.
9 out of 10
The Cherry House, Church Street, Werrington, Peterborough.
Telephone: 01733 571721.
See our restaurants map at peterboroughtoday.co.uk/restaurants for more reviews.
Table d’hote menu - three courses £26.95
Cream of Honey Roast Parsnip & Apple Soup Served with Crispy Croutons
Homemade Duck & Grand Marnier TerrineServed with Toasted Brioche & a Kumquat Compote
A Tossed Salad of Seasonal Leaves with Sunblush Tomatoes, Baby Mozzarella Balls & Toasted Pine Kernels Tossed in a Basil Oil Dresssing, Presented with Slices of Parma Ham
MAIN COURSES INCLUDE
Baked Fillet of Salmon filled with a Spinach Mousse Wrapped in a Trellis of Puff Pastry, Served with a Chive Butter Sauce
Sauteed Dutch Calves Liver Served on a Leek Hash Brown with a Rich Red Wine & Shallot Jus
Tournedos of British Beef Fillet topped with a Roquefort Cheese Souffle Coated in a Rich Calvados Jus (Supplement £7.00)
Sauteed Supreme of Chicken nestled on a Pillow of Mustard Mash Coated in a Creamy Brandy & Green Peppercorn Sauce
Vegetarian: An Asparagus, Grape & Brie Filo Pastry Roulade Dressed on a Bed of Wilted Spinach & Cordoned with a Chervil Butter Sauce
Homemade desserts or a selection of French & British cheeses served with biscuits, followed by coffee & handmade petits fours
The restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday evenings, and selected lunchtimes, including Sunday. Booking recommended.