Now Neighbourhood Spinningfields has closed, Ruth Allan checks out its suburban outpost
Part boudoir, part swanky bar, Victors is a favourite of the Cheshire set serving the kind of catch-all ‘Hamptons-inspired’ cooking this crew adores. Bloody Marys, Mimosas, weird takes on sushi, pizzas, steaks and pastas are the order of the day. But don’t let the mixed up menu and missteps put you off, because Victors is actually a really nice place to eat.
Grilled stuff is good here, and the small plates are a pleasant surprise
Staff swish around the fake wisteria oozing joie de vivre. And the décor sets a fun tone. Owner James Hitchen (Neighbourhood, Southern 11) has thrown everything at it. In fact, it’s so OTT it feels like it’s been put together by a bunch of footballers off the leash in Arighi Bianchi; there are Missoni cushions, golden lanterns, bronze leather banquettes and more seating than the entire Metrolink network put together.
The conservatory could actually be in the Hamptons rather than Cheshire, while the front half of the building is a double-height ceiling reaching up to a top deck, complete with knotted tree trunks and blossoms. The bar is suitably first class, and there’s an outdoor terrace and private dining room too. Whatever your seating or boozing persuasion, Victors has you covered. And the same is true of food.
I have the blackened salmon (£14) riffing on the famous Nobu cod; sticky sweet miso glaze is present and correct, although the fish is a bit overdone. Rib-eye steak (£22) has a fantastic char-grilled flavour, and there’s a simple macaroni cheese (£9). I’m reminded of Hitchen’s past life as a BBQ pit boss in the Deep South; grilled stuff is good here, and the small plates are a pleasant surprise.
Trendy boxes are ticked from ‘lil’burgers’ to lobster rolls and bao buns. Whizzing over to Spain, creamy mushroom croquettes come with a shuffle of black truffle (£9), while cheesy beignets with a Dijon mustard dip take me back to a sun-dappled terrace in New Orleans (£6). Grilled avocado with tofu and roasted tomato on a blue-corn tortilla is a thrill (£6.50) and makes me wish I’d tried the Korean BBQ lamb cutlets too (£12.50).
Diversity is the menu’s perversity – and sushi is a step too far. ‘Spicy ahi tuna’ is promisingly topped with kimchi and avruga caviar (AKA herring roe), £7.50, but it smells so fishy and feels so warm I’m scared to eat more than a nibble. Tempura soft shell crab sushi with ‘cocktail sauce and little gem’ (£7.50) is a dish I love at Australasia. But here the crab is chopped and cold rather than just out the fryer.
Strangely enough there are two duck sushi rolls to choose from; crispy with sour plum, sesame, orange dressing and watercress, and salt and pepper with cashews. The former is the most confused thing I’ve eaten in my life and makes me relieved we didn’t go for the ‘modern sashimi’ (raw fish dowsed in a variety of Japanese-ish sauces) as well.
Seafood aside, Victors is currently enjoying more positive press coverage than Hitchen’s first venture, Neighbourhood. Those with long memories may recall that Hitchen was ahead of the US food curve in Manchester, opening low’n’slow BBQ house Southern 11 with his former partner Karina Jadhav (who went on to set up Menagerie bar) in July 2011. He has form and the food has always been the best thing about his venues.
I used to love the mini doughnuts with molten chocolate at Neighbourhood, but Victors’ cheesecake (£7.50) doesn’t live up to the hype. The texture is relentlessly turgid, while the coconut ice cream with the chocolate fondant (also £7.50) is basically frozen milk with tasteless little nuts. I’d eat the fondant itself again - but who wouldn’t down a pint of chocolate if they got the chance?
At the end of the day, Victors’ sheer exuberance overrides the blips. This is somewhere to get blossoms tangled in your up-do before rolling home to sleep it off on a Sunday afternoon. Forget the sushi and focus on the good stuff. That’s my motto anyhow.
Victors, 46 London Road, Alderley Edge, Cheshire SK9 7DZ. Tel: 01625 447 227
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All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Mushroom croquettes 7, cheese beignets 6.5, salmon 6.5, steak 8.5, macaroni 7, tofu 9, sushi duck 3, sushi tuna 3, sushi crab 3, Cheesecake 5, fondant 6
Staff ooze joie de vivre
The décor sets a fun tone