[Manchester, city centre] Northern Quarter Restaurant - 2022 visit

I like to think of TNQ (as it often calls itself) as one of our regular places although, what with Covid and other matters, that’s stretching it a bit, as we’ve not been since this time last year. One of the things I’ve always liked about the restaurant is that the menu changes seasonally. Now, I know a number of places that do that but, often, you’ll find that this year’s autumn menu is the same as last year’s. Not here. It looked like a completely different menu and, certainly, none of the dishes that we enjoyed last October are on the menu this year. So, food may be different but that’s the only thing. Everything else is unchanged – good service and a really enjoyable space buzzing with people’s conversation – the sort of place where, as soon as you walk in, you just know everything will be fine. Which was just as well, as I was frazzled when we got there. It’s been a while since I last drove in to the city. Everywhere I turned, there were road closures, some permanent, others temporary. I managed to get lost in a network of streets that, on foot, I know like the back of my hand.

As to the food, it was classic autumnal TNQ. Mixed wild mushrooms were sautéed and served up with the most delicious, most mushroomy broth. There was an egg yolk in there, as well, but it served no particular purpose. Beetroot seems to me another flavour of autumn and it comes as a houmous, accompanied by pickled carrots and a harissa dressing. The heat reminded me of chrain, the Jewish preparation of beetroot and horseradish.

For main courses, there was a fish stew – a small fillet of sea bass (?), squid, mussels and a couple of big, fat, juicy langoustine. It’s as light and fresh a dish as you want to come across and it’s brought together with a really tasty crab and langoustine broth. The other dish was an altogether more butch affair. Pork belly, slow roasted so the flesh fell apart but topped with crispy crackling. And it that wasn’t enough crisp for you, there’s a couple of wontons, stuffed with black pudding – now that’s the sort of fusion food that has my name written all over it. There’s wilted pak choi and a lovely teriyaki-esque sauce. We shared a bowl of chips – hot, crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, just as they should be.

We passed on dessert but espresso was good.