Owners Darren and Fiona Quick took over the former 39 steps in Styal earlier this year.
With the help of Mike Jennings as consultant, they decided to branch out from Wilmslow’s traditional offerings of bistro, brasserie and brunch to capture a vignette of Spain with a tapas restaurant.
The new restaurant wants to balance the realistic side of raw Barcelonan dining with the contemporary stylishness of Cheshire’s dining expectations.
We spoke to Styal residents and El Bosc Owners, Darren and Fiona to talk about their aspirations for the restaurant.
Darren said: “We’re blessed really to be in such a gorgeous area.
“A stones’ throw from Stone Quarry Mill and beautiful woodland, we’re offering some great small plates in Spanish tapas style, with a few great surprises too.
“We’re looking to encourage people to drop in if they are out and about in the area, for a coffee or a slice of cake.
“We’ve also just set up a great lunch offer too. You can get three plates for £18. Perfect for sharing or just having a great lunch. You don’t have to book either, so you can just drop in.”
Fiona added: “It’s great for the locals, but also the people who travel to the Mill and all the walkers. It’s a nice cosy vibe, warm and welcoming. We’ve got live music on too, we want to bring a bit of fun to the area.
“We’re open for snacks, coffee and cake, but also for those looking to go out for a fully-fledged meal with champagne and wine.”
The name El Bosc is Catalan for The Woods, a fitting name as they sit on the edge of glorious woodland much loved by walkers.
The restaurant includes a fine blend of traditional imported Spanish ingredients, such as their charcuterie & cheese selection including Jamon Reserva and Manchego, that blends perfectly with locally sourced Cheshire potatoes and vegetables from Smithfield market.
The ethos of the restaurant covers a lot of ground.
Darren explained: “We want to welcome everyone here. Diners are encouraged to just come in for something casual, to sit at the bar and have a glass of wine or half an Estrella and some crispy squid.
“It’s the kind of place you can come to have a quick half an hour to yourself with a coffee and a slice of Basque cheesecake or a small plate.
“If you want to go the whole nine yards for dinner, it’s perfect for that too. It’s a really gorgeous setting with great food.”
You can also book the restaurant for functions, with space for 50 people for a sit down meal, or 70 for a more casual event.
To drink, El Bosc has a huge range of premium Spanish wines and the house pour lager is Estrella Damn.
They also make homemade sangria with brandy, agave nectar, and a selection of fresh fruit.
The restaurant is highly styled, with high bar stools, beautiful wooden flooring and secluded booths. The wooden bar and floor adds to the contemporary feel of the restaurant with tasteful lighting.
El Bosc has a late license too on Friday and Saturday, for those who want to take the party late into the evening.
The restaurant is set in the shadow of Quarry Bank Mill and the woods, with the village created for the workers of the town. Similarly, the owners of El Bosc want to give something back to the community.
Food has been curated by Lee Atherton, who comes with pedigree, having worked under the watchful eye of Michael Caines MBE.
He has also worked at Victors Restaurant in Hale and Sumas in Jersey.
Mike Jennings, consultant for El Bosc said: “When we spoke with Lee about the concept it really excited him. With Tapas it’s not always about how it looks. It’s not about making a masterpiece on the plate, much more about making a masterpiece in the pallet.
“What became obvious straight away was Lee’s passion for Spanish cuisine. The simplicity, the high-quality ingredients.
“Take for instance the simplicity of chorizo cooked in cider – It’s a stripped back dish with little garnish. But the flavours and aromas are intense. I think the simplicity but deep flavours appealed to him.”
Asking Mike about the standouts on the menu, he waxed lyrical about the Jamon Aragon Croquetas, suggesting the true litmus test of quality tapas was how well the restaurant took on the classic dishes.
“We’re aiming for incredible flavour here, to match up to the original thing in Barcelona.
“The Catalan bread with minced garlic and tomatoes, olive oil and salt on crisp bread is a real knockout.
“My personal favourite is the tortilla. Lee’s done a cracking job on it, with sliced onion and potato bound with free range eggs. It’s beautifully layered and well-seasoned. It’s a simple dish that stands out.”
The menu strikes a keen balance between hitting the simple classics on the head, with some lavish options available too, such as salt cod croquetas with Saffron Aioli, or BBQ Queenie Scallops with Chimichurri Salsa for those looking for something a bit more adventurous.
I asked Mike, who has 25-years’ experience as a Michelin trained Chef, about his thoughts on creating great tapas.
He said: “I think the key is keeping things simple.
“Some restaurants try to polish it a bit too much. You have to experience it in Spain to realise that it often isn’t a super glamorous affair, it’s more about friends enjoying fantastic tasting food around a table.
“I guess you could say we’ve taken on a European mentality. We are not trying to create the perfect picture, we just want you to experience great flavour, hopefully with friends having a great time.
“The aim is to create a great restaurant where the focus is on great food & service in a warm and welcoming environment”
“Why not come down for some food and a catch up with friends and escape the world for a few hours?”