[Didsbury, Manchester] No. 4


(John Hartley) #1

It’s good to see Paul and Nina’s efforts at last given wider recognition with the restaurant’s inclusion in the new edition of the Good Food Guide. We get here a couple of times a year, usually for dinner, but this was lunch.

Soup of the day was an excellent white onion and thyme, the flavours of both coming through on an excellent base stock. The accompanying bread was tasty. The other starter, effectively mushrooms on toast, was bang-on for an autumn dish. Thick slice of toasted brioche, topped with mushrooms in a creamy mascarpone sauce, enhanced with Gran Moravia cheese (no, me neither – I had to Google to find it’s Italian).

For mains, one of us went with what was a pretty much perfect lunch dish – steak , egg and chips. A thinnish minute steak, lightly cooked; two fried eggs with properly soft yolks, perfect for dunking the nicely fried chips. And there was an absolute belter of a béarnaise sauce. Too often, this can be bland but not here – you really get the twang from tarragon but it’s not overdone – I was almost embarrassed to ask if it was house made. It is - and Paul could start giving lessons to a couple well known city centre steak places in how to make a good ‘un. For the other, a shortcrust pastry tart included butternut squash, pecans and Yorkshire Blue cheese, with all the elements complementing each other. Also on the plate, good accompaniments in the form of broccoli and mini hash browns. We shared a side order of cauliflower cheese that was just so comforting on a manky October day (but I wouldn’t have objected if a more poky cheese had been used)

Only one of us wanted dessert. Which meant one of us lost out on a sticky toffee pudding that had a light as a feather sponge and a great butterscotch sauce. On the side, a retro brandysnap basket held a blob of vanilla icecream. Meanwhile, the other was sipping a lovely coffee and nibbling on a homemade truffle.

An absolute cracker of a lunch.


(John Hartley) #2

Back for dinner.

When you keep coming back to a place, you do tend to run out of new nice things to say about it. So, let me just say that we’d always had a lovely evening and this latest visit was no exception. There’s always bags of choice on the menu – there was eight main courses and I’d happily have eaten any of them. And, midweek, there’s a bargain set menu – three courses for less than twenty quid must be a bargain in anyone’s book. It’s a pared down version of the main menu with just four choices at each course and this is what we ordered from.

There was a carrot and coriander soup to start. A bowl of warm comfort food, ideal for a cold, wet Manchester evening, even if the coriander element wasn’t very apparent. The accompanying homemade bread was spot on. A smoked haddock Scotch egg, served hot, was pretty much perfect – crisp coating, lightly smoked fish, egg with a yolk still a tad moist. It comes with a curried mayo and some watercress, both of which work well.

For one main course, cod came in a tempura batter that was as light and crisp as you like. It sat on mushy peas, of course. And there’s a small handful of chips – hand cut and perfectly fried. And a tangy tartare sauce that I’d bet a fiver was chef made rather than a jar opened. The other plate was featherblade beef. Long cooked and deliciously unctuous. There’s pancetta, pearl onions and mushrooms, as well as a red wine sauce. Served separately, more of those chips and a serving of cauliflower cheese. This really is a rib-sticker of a plate and an absolute belter.

We’ll often pass on desserts but, seeing as we were on a roll with the previous courses, thought we’d get an order in. Crepes Suzette are a retro classic – two pancakes warmed through in a sticky orange and Cointreau sauce and served with a blob of ice cream. Delicious. A creamy rice pudding always seems to be on the menu here. And rightly so, it’s rich and creamy and, from memory, always comes with some cooked seasonal fruit – in this case brandied plums.

Coffee was good and hot and came with a very decent chocolate truffle.

As mentioned, this was a cold, wet January evening when the idea of getting takeaway through Deliveroo or Just Eat must appeal. The measure of this restaurant is such that the place was packed.


(Peter) #3

Drool! Love Scotch eggs - my lunch mainstay during my student days in Perth (the one in Western Australia, not Scotland).


(John Hartley) #4

You’d love one of my favourite farmers markets. These guys sell there:
https://ssseuk.com/shop/


(Peter) #5

Absolutely amazing! I didn’t know there are so many varieties available commercially.


(John Hartley) #6

Not all of them work, Peter. I bought a “Thai spiced” one last time and it was just plain wrong in a Scotch egg. And nothing is going to persuade me to try a vegan one!!


(Jimmy ) #7

Is this “finger food”? Or, does table manners dictate eating with a knife and fork?


(John Hartley) #8

Knife and fork, Jimmy, if in a restaurant. Fingers, of course, if being eaten as a snack - which is generally where they belong.

The origin of the name doesnt seem to be known but one of the stories I’ve read is that they were sold by upmarket London provisions store, Fortnum & Mason, as a snack to be eaten by train travellers going on holiday to Scotland - Queeen Victoria popularised Scotland as a holiday destination. So, it’s possible


#9

Have you ever made it at home? Looks like it’s a very technical thing, especially with a runny egg.


(John Hartley) #10

Beyond my skill level, I’m afraid.


#11

Edited:

2 existing threads on Scotch eggs to be found here: