By Laura Turner

Londoners may mourn the loss of Highbury wine bar and restaurant Linden Stores, which closed its doors in 2020. But far from becoming a casualty in the capital’s restaurant scene, this family-run neighbourhood favourite has been reimagined up north.

Husband and wife team Chris Boustead and Laura Christie announced they were moving “back up North to be closer to family and friends” and “taking Linden Stores with us”. First they set up shop in Audlem in Cheshire, but now Linden Stores 3.0 has opened around an hour away in upmarket Knutsford.

Chef Chris, who named the restaurant after the Scarborough street he grew up on, gets creative with the best British produce and locally foraged ingredients, serving small plates designed to be shared. While wine expert Laura likes to operate a ‘pour what’s open’ approach and is on hand to recommend vino from independent small-scale wine makers around the world. You can even buy bottles to take home from their soon-to-open wine shop.

Linden Stores restaurant Knutsford
The new restaurant in Knutsford. Credit: Linden Stores

Much like the food, the wine list is concise and changes with the seasons to complement the dishes on offer. Menus change every four to six weeks, meaning there is always something new to try here.

The restaurant is rustic and intimate, seating just 40 diners across two floors. The main dining area can be found downstairs next to the dog friendly bar, which guests are welcome to pop in to for a drink as walk-ins are welcome. Upstairs there are a handful of tables with a view of the open kitchen.

We were seated near a large window downstairs, perfect for watching the world go by. Though you must try the wine, we opted for a cocktail aperitif first. The Burnt Apple Bellini (£10) and Quince Daiquiri (£11), were wonderfully unusual and a welcome change to the run-of-the-mill offerings you typically see on cocktail menus.

Linden Stores restaurant Knutsford
The intimate restaurant seats 40 across two floors. Credit: Linden Stores

When it comes to the food, all the dishes at Linden Stores are served sharing style and around three to five are recommended between two people. Order from the A La Carte or the Chef’s Menu (£40pp or £20pp for under 12s), the latter of which equates to three generous courses each. This is available for every booking, but required if you dine in the restaurant on Friday or Saturday nights. A vegetarian option is also available.

Dining off the Chef’s Menu when we visited on a Saturday lunchtime, we started with House Focaccia and Trealy Farm Coppa, cured pork made from the shoulder cut, which paired perfectly. The flavours were so rich and moorish, we cleared our plates in a matter of minutes. Described as ‘the best artisan charcuterie in the UK’ by chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Trealy Farm is just one of the local suppliers used by Linden Stores. All their produce is British and free-range and they are as sustainable as possible when it comes to waste and reusing ingredients.

Next up was Squash, Yorkshire Blue and Raisin Croquettes and a Mackerel dish paired with Fennel and Bitter Leaves, followed by a final savoury course of Cheshire Game Bird with Turnips and Quince. We dined on pheasant during our visit, but it could be anything from pigeon to mallard.

Linden Stores Knutsford food
The food is meant to be shared. Credit: Linden Stores

There is the option to order additional items alongside the Chef’s Menu should you want to, such as Pate (£6), Pickled Mussels (£7) and Cheese, Crackers and Chutney (£14). If you only add one thing, make sure it’s the perfectly crunchy and full of flavour Layered Crispy Potatoes (£6).

A glass of Zweigelt (£6) was the perfect accompaniment with the pheasant. Laura also recommended the Gran Cerdo (£5) wine, which we liked not only for its easy drinking taste but because the name translates to ‘Big Pig’ in Spanish, a dedication to the bank executives who wouldn’t give the producer a loan to start his wine business. This unoaked white Rioja was so delicious we ended up having quite a few glasses and even bought a bottle to take home with us. All the wines listed on the menu are available to buy from behind the bar at retail price. 

Unable to resist the allure of the PX Expresso Martini (£11) we sipped on these as we awaited dessert, a slice of Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart so delicious it was possibly the only course we weren’t willing to share. Other highlights when we visited, which we spotted on the A La Carte menu, included the Burnt Leeks with Parsnip Puree and Wild Mushrooms (£12) and Braised Short Rib with Celeriac Puree and Salsa Verde (£19).

Everything about Linden Stores had us wanting more. The superb seasonal plates and wine, welcoming and knowledgeable staff and delightful interiors made us want to stay all afternoon. During a time where costs are ever increasing, this restaurant and wine bar have the price point just right. If you’re looking for some indulgence without breaking the bank, this is the place to go.

Best for: Date night, fine dining on a budget, private dining for a special occasion

Linden Stores is at 15 Minshull Street, Knutsford, WA16 6HG and is open from Wednesday to Thursday 5pm to 11pm and Friday to Sunday 12pm to 11pm

Prices start from £2 on the A la Carte menu and range up to £19 for larger sharing plates. The Chef’s Menu is available from £40pp and is also available for under 12’s at £20pp. Diners visiting Friday and Saturday nights must have the Chef’s Menu

Wine starts at £5 per glass and cocktails are priced between £10 and £11 each

Book a table at Linden Stores here

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