[Didsbury, Manchester] No 4

As always at No 4, we had a nice evening. OK, the cooking doesn’t always hit the nail on the head but the menu is always well put together. I would have happily ordered any of the main courses. We were almost first in at 7.30 but, later, it was absolutely heaving with customers – and indication that they continue to generally do things right.

There was an almost classic “mushrooms on toast” starter. Thick slice of brioche, fried mushrooms, creamy mustardy sauce. It was my favourite course of the evening. Bit, fat juicy scallops on the other side of the table. They come with their roes which are something of a Marmite thing – my companion in life isn’t keen, so I got to scoff them. Scallops were perfectly cooked – a bit of charring on the outside, barely cooked through inside.

Fish for both of us as main courses. Plaice was excellent. It seems to be making something of a comeback on menus and rightly so. Came with rosti and spinach (?). Stone bass had been given a light coating with tikka spices but the skin wasn’t crisp so was taken off and left. Sort of defeated the object as that’s where much of the spicing was. But, there’s daal, wilted spinach and a minty yoghurt. A nice set of flavours but it was all a bit too soft – soft in both texture and flavour.

There were a couple of retro sounding desserts on the menu. One was crepes Suzette. The other was a brandysnap basket filled with strawberries and cream. And that’s the one that was ordered. It was fine. I didn’t fancy any of the desserts so ordered cheese (and got the better of the two plates). You’ve a choice of three from the half dozen or so on offer. I picked Shorrocks Lancashire – and I doubt whether you’ll find a better example of Lancashire than Shorrocks – Devon Blue (very buttery and not very blue) and Sheep Rustler ( a semi hard ewes milk which had, literally, just been named “supreme champion” at the British Cheese Awards). You don’t go short on accompaniments – bread, crackers, celery, apple and grapes.


At long last, No. 4 makes it into the just published Good Food Guide.