Now, for those who don't watch the box or have fallen behind on their viewing, Johnnie has participated in the North West heats of the BBC's The Great British Menu for two years now providing virtuoso performances and priceless viewing: indeed, we finally stopped bitching about our licence fee.
Together with some cunning editing by the Beeb, portrayed as the maverick of the kitchen, Johnnie made for compelling viewing, not least with his verbal joshing with regional judge Marcus Wareing where at times it seemed that only a spatula separated them from a kitchen meltdown.
We'd been talking about visiting The English Pig even before the latest season of GBM aired on TV but having enjoyed it so much last week, our interest was beyond piqued.
It turned out that we were not the only blogger/foodies there for lunch today with Chef Mat Follas (@matkiwi), @CorkGourmetGuy and @meemalee also booked in resulting in an enlarged table and an opportunity for us all to enjoy plates across the menu.
Johnnie himself says that The English Pig is pitched between a good gastro pub and fine dining and in that sense it achieves its aim we feel. While the dishes do not always sound a stretch, on the mains for example there's old faves like gammon, egg and chips, each of the dishes was executed well and delivered real and robust flavours that sets apart the venue from most of the other eateries in the vicinity, in fact, there were some real highlights.
For starters, a blue cheese and walnut risotto was excellent, as were tiger prawns and chilli, and chorizo and lentils. Cauliflower and parmesan soup had a lovely texture and provided further layers of comfort.
Staff were friendly and we were also lucky enough to spend some time with Johnnie who is one of the funniest and most entertaining chefs we've had the pleasure to come across. From the quirky proprietor then to the sticky Dick to the strangely inscribed board outside, there's an easy irreverence to The English Pig that invites you to enjoy the food without taking it all too seriously; in a world of Michelin chasers, this is a rare and welcome relief. We loved it.
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