It’s taken me a long time to write this post. Partly because I ran out of synonyms for ‘incredible’ but also because I was concerned that I wouldn’t do it justice. With that fear in mind, I’ve listed a raft of published reviews from critics who do this for a living at the bottom of the article.
Simply put: Where The Light Gets In does everything so right.
Sam Buckley (previously L’Enclume) and his chefs prepare, cook and serve some of the best food we’ve ever eaten. The space is simple but beautifully, quietly, put together; the staff are warm, passionate and knowledgeable; the utensils and crockery have a tactility that intensifies the pleasure of each dish and even the hand wash makes me pant and sigh.
At £75 each for dinner, plus £45 for the wine pairing, it’s a privilege to be able to afford to eat here. Some people go on benders; we go out to eat.
WTLGI is in Stockport, of which a lot of people have made a big deal. I don’t really know why. We got on the train in Manchester, a mere twelve minutes from Stockport, disembarked and a brisk ten minute walk later we were there. Ok, so there was a steep hill (Rostron Brow) and a moment of uncertainty when we thought we’d arrived at the entrance of an abandoned crack den, but we only had to look up to see the light streaming, a friendly face and a hand waving to know we’d made it. It’s Buckley’s neck of the woods, and besides, a good journey is how all great adventures begin, isn’t it?
There’s an unexpected quietness as you step straight into the dining room as the staff converse, intimately, with diners and each other in hushed tones. The space, the top floor of a converted coffee warehouse, looks out at Stockport and Robinson’s brewery, and feels like a New York come Scandi loft conversion with its exposed brick and white paint while a fleet of Ercol chairs sail on a sea of polished floorboards. The space is divided into three areas: lounge, dining, and, at the far end, is the very open kitchen that incredibly is seen and not heard.
Tables of two are turned to face the kitchen to watch the chefs work, like theatre. There’s heads over pots and whispering to each other. They pick out jars from the open shelves, smell and taste the contents, move to other jars, whisper a bit more. The intimacy here between chef, plate and diner is exultant.
There are moments that remind us of our dinner at Matur og Drykkur in Reykjavik. There’s a similarity in the sense of a pride of home, Buckley is after all from Stockport, a strong sense of ethics, and they both use the best of local produce available. They both have a way with caramelised whey, too. A sweet tart here and Icelandic twisted doughnuts over at Matur og Drykkur.
Altogether, we dine on twelve courses including snacks and sweets plus an optional cheese course (that we can’t miss) that comes with honeycomb carved in front of us, that Buckley tells us he’s traded with the beekeeper for a can of beer that day.
It’s these exchanges that allow the menu to change almost daily and we’re served a new dish that Buckley asks us how we prefer it presented: ‘this way, or this?’ As he places it in front of us. There’s raw langoustine with (look away now if you’re squeamish) head juices and brains, plum and lavender. Sweet, creamy, and hedonistic it’s one of my favourite dishes of the night.
We eat fresh crab tacos with our hands, and drink pork broth infused with fresh fennel that’s both deep and refreshing, and the liquor from a bowl of mussels that is somehow better, richer, more buttery and like the sea, than the mussels themselves.
For days after, I talk about the harmonious marriage between beetroot and toasted hazelnut and without any idea of how I’ll recreate it, I add it to our menu (with lamb chops) the following week.
Then there’s the desserts. Oh, the desserts. We have peaches two ways: first the skin with a peach cream and then the flesh with frozen yoghurt. Every part of the peach is used and the kernel is a delicious reminder of the familial bond between peach and almond.
When it’s all over, Buckley sees us out and we walk back to the station under the stars.
Where The Light Gets in
7 Rostron Brow, Stockport, SK1 1JY
Those links to the professional reviews I promised: