[Didsbury, Manchester] No. 4 - 2023 visit

If ever you wanted to describe a restaurant as a local gem, then No. 4 would be it. I think that, of the various restaurants we keep coming back to, I’d miss No. 4 most if it wasn’t there. There’s history here as well. Warburton Street still has its original cobbled surface. Even the grid covers have history – they are stamped as belonging to the “Withington Board “ (of Health), which existed between 1876 and 1894, after which the first local council was elected. And, back in 1911, when a census was taken, No. 4 itself was occupied by William Richardson, a platelayer who worked maintaining the railway tracks that ran from the local station into Manchester ( along the tracks that the tram does now, which is how we generally arrive). Of course, the street is no longer home to working class families but a selection of independent businesses.

Inside No. 4, things have obviously changed since Richardson’s time. But, thankfully, some things haven’t changed since we started coming here in 2012. Things like the warm welcome. Like the service that’s always on the ball, with things happening just as they should. Like the shortish seasonally changing menu that’s always packed full of choice. It’s down to Paul’s skill in the kitchen and Nina’s skill out front.

So, to start for one of us, seared scallops. The cooking bang on here for “just cooked”. They come with a very seasonal pea puree and a mint vinaigrette. I’d best describe the other plate as a warm salad or, maybe, a bit of a fry-up. Chorizo, halved new potatoes, green beans, olives, the crunch from Little Gem and crisp onion rings. It’s dressed with a vinaigrette spiked with Dijon, capers and the oil that’s leaked out of the chorizo. Whatever you might call it, it’s really tasty.

For mains, there’s a generous serving of braised lamb shoulder. Almost classic accompaniments of a well made slab of dauphinoise potato, green beans and more of the pea puree. Mint is also a classic with lamb and, here, it appears in a salsa verde. On the other plate a fillet of stone bass, just flaking apart. It sits on potato rosti, which had lost its crispness by having spinach plated on top of it. But there’s crispness from samphire and a potted shrimp butter sauce. It all works very well.

And, yes, we had room for dessert. Paul’s take on a Bakewell tart. Puff pastry, filled with an almond custard, studded with sweet/sharp raspberries. A spoonful of raspberry coulis also on the plate and a dollop of thick cream. What’s not to like?
A selection of cheese comes perfectly pared with crackers, apple, celery and grapes. Pick three from the choice of six (or pick all six). Thanks. That’ll be the Shorrocks Tasty Lancashire (possibly the finest Lancashire you’ll come across), Red Storm – a really flavoursome Red Leicester type made in North Wales and matured for getting on for two years, and Cornish Yarg, the cheese getting a very mild garlic flavour from being wrapped in wild garlic leaves.

We finished with good espresso and truffles.


Wow, I’d go there even just for this cheese platter!


You’d have to go for all six. Otherwise, you’d miss out on Yorkshire Blue (a lovely well rounded blue that I’ve had in Yorkshire near where it’s made), Cornish Brie and Cropwell Bishop Stilton.


That’s for sure!

But would you want it pared?

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