The Bells of Peover, aside from sounding like a urine infection, was not our first choice for dinner en route to a 60th party in Macclesfield – that option fell to The Wizard in nearby Alderley Edge. Somewhat fortunately, the lady who answered the phone for The Wizard had been taking customer service notes from RyanAir and spoke to me with a disdain not seen since The Cold War. A quick search on the internet, followed by a much nicer phone call and we were soon driving up the cobbles into this tucked-away gem.
Inside we are led to the safety of a burgundy Chesterfield that sits handsomely in the square dining room. The beams and white-washed walls suggest little has changed since George Bell took over the pub in 1871, though these walls have history: During the 40’s American troops were billeted nearby, with Generals Patton and Eisenhower making D-Day plans over lunch here. This explains the two flags outside and also the reason why the lighting inside the dining room was set to Blackout. Not even the camera flash could save some of the photos I attempted to take.
Pancetta came breaded and treated to the kind of heat that softened the porcine fat inside to a luscious jelly, whilst the meat stayed reassuringly firm and tasted of a good pig. Sharing the plate were also a fried duck egg and fig sauce which had a HP brown sauce level of spice and depth. It was the perfect breakfast served at sunset in Cheshire. Hummus was the pillow for sun-blushed tomatoes, pesto, and olives, all of it scooped onto flat bread and enjoyed.
High praise was given to my partners gnocchi and butternut squash main, with her declaring it one of the best dishes she had ever eaten in a public house. The gnocchi was light yet substantial, given poise by ricotta and a summery intensity by both sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil. My main was nearly as good; lamb fillet with its own faggot of all the gnarly bits. The fillet, cooked a little passed the medium I like, had to fight for attention with a port sauce. Potato pave and carrot purée added earthy notes, whilst new season asparagus and peas gave freshness. The menu listed it at £16.95, it appeared on the bill at £13.95. Either way, it was exceptional value for some very skilled cooking. Bravo to the cheery waiter that talked me into having it over the pork or beef.
Dessert was a baked chocolate cheesecake which was too heavy for me to take seriously after so much food. There are other options which I probably should have chosen, though I am often too greedy for my own good. The bill, with wine and good local beers, crept over seventy quid, which is incredible value for the standard of cooking. On the Monday following our trip up north I emailed a work acquaintance whose business is nearby, who confirmed my opinion and said it was highly regarded locally. As pleased as I was for him, The Bells of Peover deserves more than regional recognition. It is an absolute cracker of a pub.