Staffordshire Living were invited along to newly crowned ‘Best Independent Restaurant in Staffordshire’ – Lunar, at the Wedgwood estate. Based in the attraction’s former restaurant and totally refurbished to fantastic standard, the restaurant is modern, quirky and absolutely gorgeous.
The outside of the building gives off, industrial vibes, very understated and adds to a sense of mystery about what could possibly be inside. On entering the building, the secrets begin to be revealed! A very smart young man called Matthew the Maître d’, gave us a tour of the building, his personable approach did make us feel very special, as if we are the most important people in the venue. This personal approach really helps you to relax as most of us don’t dine this way often, there is always a little bit of intimidation and trepidation whenever Michelin star chefs are mentioned.
Matthew expertly talked us through the concept behind Lunar and the reason by the restaurant. Named after The Lunar Society, founded in the 18th century, where clubs were formed to allow members the pleasure of enjoying the finest food and debating issues away from the social order problems of the day.
Josiah Wedgwood was one of the founding members of this society alongside other notable names, such as Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, and James Watt.
These individuals, amongst others that met once a month, were the pioneers that together would bring about the ultimate fusion of science and social change that would fuel the fires and ignite the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution forged the world as we know it today.
Lunar is based next to the World of Wedgwood tourist attraction and is overseen by Michelin star chef Niall Keating.
Only a handful of chefs in the UK hold two Michelin stars and Niall is one of them. The Staffordshire born chef oversees Lunar and all the creations there alongside Head Chef Craig Lunn.
Each section of the restaurant was explained and as we were led to the large parlour section of restaurant, I understand that this is where they often hold the private dining experiences as well as their Lunar Art and Wine Society, we were invited to choose a book from the library from the bookcase that had a link with Darwin. (We did need guidance from Matthew however, it was a long time since we had left school!) We pulled out the book as directed; a door opened to this reveal the secret Botanic Garden themed cocktail bar. Here we were invited to sit and choose a cocktail or drink from the menu. The space is astonishing, giving the diners the opportunity for a pre-dinner chat and to explore the delicious sounding cocktails that are totally different from anywhere else. The cocktails range from a non-alcoholic £8 to around £15. I had the Banana Calling, which was delicious whereas my better half trailed the Matcha Tree Gimlet – to be fair I could have had two or three of these, but they do appear to be quite potent, so this leads you into getting a taxi territory.
Following the drinks, we were shown to our table right under the fabulous Lunar moon. This astonishing light feature dominates the space and is an amazing centre piece for the restaurant.
I would advise that this is not just food to be eaten, it is a gastronomic culinary experience. Don’t be tempted to snack before you go, as although the portions are smaller, with 12 courses I can guarantee you that you will be full to the brim before you leave, and don’t forget the food is rich and more filling than it looks. My best advice is to have a good breakfast early in the day and make sure you arrive hungry; you are going to need the space.
The cost for the 12-course tasting menu is £120 per head and the wine fight which paired expertly with each course by Atilla, Lunar’s fantastic sommelier. He is so knowledgeable about each wine and explains why it matches each course perfectly. This addition is just £95 per head and is definitely worth the money.
With the anticipation built, we were now introduced to the first three courses, and it was so worth the wait. We were expertly served by the lovely Ellie, who described each dish with enthusiasm and knowledge.
The crab choux bun was to die for, as was the Black Pudding Tart. My favourite was the Quails egg, celeriac, mango wine, calamansi wine with chilli salt. It was a taste sensation a little piece of heaven on the palate.
The next course you would be forgiven for thinking was just bread and butter but what bread and butter!!! Oh my goodness. Especially made to a specific recipe devised by Niall and baked to perfection at the Trentham Bake House, served with butter infused with honey and other special ingredients. I cannot explain about how lovely this seemingly simple staple was, I can only say that it was beyond wonderful.
Just writing this review is tempting me to pick up the phone right now and book another table. However, this is a special place that befits a special occasion. It is about the sense of ambience, service, taste, awaking the senses to connect with the food, lovingly prepared by Niall and his team.
As the courses kept coming, the service level soared. All the food was presented and explained with perfection, as were the wines. It was so interesting to know why each wine had been chosen to perfectly compliment every mouthful of deliciousness. The courses kept coming, each one more magnificent than the last. (Another tip – do not where a tight waistband).
The Halibut was the best I’ve ever eaten and for the main event there was the Duck – wow! There are no words to describe how marvellously the combination of kohlrabi, radish and dates made this dish sing. This was expertly combined with perfect Acrux Cabernet Sauvignon, Vila Sutil, Colchagia Valley – a 2015 vintage from Chile that had been chosen by Atilla. This perfectly cut through the richness of the duck and helped to complement the varying flavours of the kohlrabi, radish and dates.
Just as I thought I couldn’t fit another mouthful in along came the deserts, it really wasn’t hard to force ourselves to enjoy the three deserts and treats paired with dessert wines.
We finished off the excellent evening with coffee, I did need a crane to get me out of my seat at this point and I had visons of having to spend the next month on Keto.
Nevertheless, who cares about the waistline – the whole experience was amazing. It is a fabulous 3 ½ to 4-hour experience and one that I would challenge anyone to better.
The addition of Lunar to North Staffordshire is a hugely welcome one and really puts this part of the county clearly onto the gastronomic map of the county. So, if you want to impress someone special or push the boat out for a date anniversary, birthday, engagement or proposal, Lunar is defiantly the place to book. I understand that they also offer a Friday and Saturday lunch menu and a fabulous Sunday Lunch costing around £50 per head for three courses, which is excellent value for money.
I can honestly say that my expectations were high, I have eaten at a few Michelin star restaurants over the years and Niall, Craig and the rest of the team did not disappoint. They have all the ingredients to create perfection; the service, food and wine but more than that, the team are all passionate about going above and beyond, showing that they do it with love. We cannot wait to return and sample the Sunday Lunch.
To book a table to try either the Lunar Experience Menu, as reviewed here, or to join Lunar for lunch Friday, Saturday or Sunday visit the Lunar website at: