Restaurant and hotel review: The Vicarage Freehouse & Rooms, Cranage

Adam Lowe

The Vicarage in Cranage is a recently renovated 17th Century Grade II listed country pub, restaurant and hotel in Cheshire. Easily accessible from Manchester or the Lakes, it’s a well positioned gem we were thrilled to check out.

Checking into our gorgeous, and very spacious, suite, we were pleased to see a high level of attention to detail, including lovely art on our walls and so much coffee, cake and biscuits, a writer could spend a whole week in here without emerging for supplies!

Already wowed by the vision of the bedroom, we were keen to check out the bathroom too.

‘I wonder if we’ll have a tub as well as a shower,’ I said before setting off.

Thankfully we did! And what a tub it was!

Simply put, this was an exquisite bathroom. I could write an ode to this tub. Free-standing, elegant, deep – the bath was epic.

The bathroom was full of its own cool little details such as wood-style plaster beams to blend in with the original wood and cute stacks of corks in recesses left, presumably, by the removal of old timber during renovations. It felt rustic but stylish, contemporary but classic.

In the restaurant, there was some fabulous detail on the beams, which gave a little hint as to the traditionally inspired but creative menu to follow.

We started by sampling the cocktail menu. First, we tried the rhubarb fizz: Chase Rhubarb, rose prosecco with a tarty berry sugar rim. Hypnotic to look at and delightful to sip.

Our first starter was a course of mackerel paté packed full of flavour. It was complemented by the textures of a soft boiled hen’s egg, a creamy lemon and herb mayonnaise, and a long spear of crunchy ciabatta. This one was done lactose free, as well, so without the usual cream cheese on the menu. It tasted superb and looked gorgeous, and we were impressed with the chef’s responsiveness to our dietary requirements.

Our second starter was the duck press (available gluten-free like the last starter). Confit duck legs with a divine crackling-like crisp skin on top, spiced apples, brioche crisp, radish, a red wine syrup that cut through the fattiness of the duck wonderfully, and sorrel pesto – it was magnificent.

Next we had mains. First up: cod with new potatoes (swapped from sweet potato dauphinoise to keep it lactose free), kale, confit chorizo, chilli and garlic salsa. An elegant, slightly smoky blend of soft cod with raunchy chorizo, given some oomph by the lovely paprika juices of that noble Spanish sausage.

The second main was a stew of spiced slow-braised leg of lamb, apricots, carrots, red wine, fragrant rice, charred pitta, served with coriander yoghurt. Served up with plenty of colour, the lamb was really tender with welcome sweetness from the carrots and a well balanced spice profile.

This impromptu berry pavlova wasn’t even on the menu–but the chef whipped it up anyway. A pink star of gooey meringue, summer fruit, pansies and raspberry sorbet, with a hint of honeycomb, it was a treasure trove of sorbet, berries and grapes. The palate reminded me of parma violets, popping candy and baked Alaska all at once. Amazing.

Our second dessert was a decadent waffle with dark chocolate sauce, toffee ice cream and berries. Creamy, buttery and fruity, this was gorgeous.

The Vicarage at Cranage was an exemplary hotel with fantastic food, a confident and creative chef, and brilliant service.

For more information, visit

The Vicarage Freehouse & Rooms, Knutsford Road, Cranage Holmes Chapel CW4 8EF
Phone: 01477 533393
Open all day Monday – Sunday from 7am to 11pm
From 7am — 11pm
(Last orders for food 9:30pm — Sunday 9pm)

About Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people. He sometimes performs as Beyonce Holes.