[Heaton Moor, Stockport] Damson

Some while back, Damson announced that it was going to close temporarily around now, to reopen with an unspecified “new concept”. Whatever that is, has now been postponed for several months. Since we were last here, around the same time last year, there have been changes. The restaurant is now divided into two, with half operating as a separate tapas bar. And, in Damson, the food had been pared back so that the carte has gone, to be replaced by a short set menu offering two courses for £20 or £25 for three. I’m not convinced this is progress.

There are five choices at starter and main course. There was pasta in creamy sauce, flecked with Wiltshire black truffle and topped with a little rabbit. It’s light and savoury. Cheese and onion scones were a bit unusual to see on the plate, not least as they came paired with roasted cauliflower, hazelnuts and a touch of chilli, but it all worked reasonably well

For mains, there was a long cooked braise of local beef, good chips (substituted for the advertised mash) and carrots. Certainly nothing fancy here but a generous portion of food that just seemed right for a chilly January evening. A veggie shepherds pie was less of a success. You’d hope this would be a thick concoction of veg and lentils but it was overly wet and underflavoured, topped simply with mash. A little dish of pickled red cabbage did add some piquancy. I took a side dish of mixed greens – cabbage, tenderstem broccoli and green beans – in truth, it was the best thing I ate in both courses.

I have to hope that whatever the “new concept” is proves to be a better bet than this – and I’ll be happy to pay more for it.

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Damson is currently closed pending its eventual reopening with its as yet still unspecified “new concept”. Reading between the lines, which includes a reference by the owner that it will be “more casual”. I’m starting to suspect I may have eaten my last meal here. I mean, it was hardly a high end dining place - just a nice little bistro where you could get a pleasant meal on a Tuesday evening, or take the wealthy aunt for her birthday and be sure of staying on the right side of her (of her will writing hand, that is). So, “more casual” has ominous undertones, or is that overtones.

It’s not that long back that we didnt add a nearby place to our list - not because there was anything wrong with it, just that we had enough"Modern British" restaurants already. But now with this probably going and the imminent closure of the Rose Garden, we may have to start doing some new research.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold