[Chorlton, Manchester] Oystercatcher

We live on a small island with none of us living more than 70 miles from the coast. You’d think there would be an abundance of seafood restaurants but there isn’t. Not even reliably at the coast (although I’ve been in the southwest recently and that’s definitely an exception to much of the UK). So, it was something of a surprise to come across the Oystercatcher in very landlocked, but very foody, Chorlton. It’s at the end of Chorlton’s “main drag” and, like most of the bars and restaurants along there, it’s very casual, very basic – more shabby than shabby chic. No-one in that area is spending money on furnishings and decoration.

The website claims that the menu “changes weekly, dependent on what is both fresh and seasonal”. However, the “sample” menu has been on the website for a fair while and was the menu we were offered. Maybe there’s been no change to the freshness and seasonality of the produce but it seems unlikely. There’s seven or so choices at both starter and main – all but one dish in each being seafood

To start, squid rings had a crisp coating but were tender yet retaining a pleasant little bite to them. They sat on a rocket salad, spiked with slices of red chilli, surrounded by dabs of an indeterminate, slightly citrussy, sauce. Three crab arancini were good examples – plenty of crab flavour, not overpowered by the rice. A tomato and harissa sauce gave it a kick.

For mains, a whole black sea bream had been grilled over coals and was delicious. It comes with nothing more than a well made salsa verde. So, it needed a side – in this case, a fennel gratin. Moules frites were a classic – I could imagine myself in a small Belgian town when they are in season. A generous portion of plump tasty mussels. They came in a tasty salty, broth, softened a tad with a splash or two of cream. Fries were fries.

So, a pleasant enough evening and now we know it’s there, I’m sure we’ll give it another go at some point,

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Sounds great! I always seek out the relatively local seafood while visiting the UK.

It’s often a struggle. And a bit weird. Appaently, most of what is caught and landed in the UK goes for export. Yet most of the seafood we eat comes as imports.

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Completely understand. I live an hour from one of the 2 main fruit growing regions for Canada, and much of the fruit available at regular grocery stores during the summer and fall is imported from California, unless you’re willing to buy by the 2 litre or 3 litre baskets of local fruit. The imports are also cheaper.

I’m lucky to have the luxury to spend more on local fruit, that my budget allows it. Canadian strawberries tend to cost 1.5 to 2 times more than Californian or Mexican strawberries.

I rather keep things local, and cut back on other processed food costs.

I cook fish every Friday, and the salmon imported from the Faroe Islands, Scotland and Ireland is far superior to the Canadian Atlantic salmon being brought to Ontario. In that case, I splurge on the imports. I also have some Manx kippers in my freezer, that I should use soon.