[Manchester, Didsbury] No. 4

I don’t often mention prices in my restaurant notes but the midweek menu at No 4 is a snip at £18.95 for three courses. It’s offered Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and it runs alongside the main menu, offering four choices at each course. There was nothing that I wouldn’t have been entirely happy eating.

So, there’s a ham hock croquette, packed with meat encased in a crisp crumb. It sits on a handful of leaves and comes with a dab of mustard cream, another of brown sauce and a spoonful of piccalilli that tasted so good it may well have been made on the premises. The other starter was an autumn salad – watercress, cubes of squash and feta, with a scattering of radish and pine nuts. It’s a decent enough plate, although the advertised lime and mint vinaigrette needed more of both elements.

For one main course, there was a classic fish and chips. A generous serving of perfectly cooked cod encased in a crisp, light as a feather tempura batter. There’s hand cut chips and mushy peas, of course, together with tartare sauce. And, to mark the quality of the hospitality, vinegar is offered – and accepted. The other plate features beef rump, flavoursome as you’d expect. It comes with assorted greens – cabbage and broccoli – and mash. A well constructed mushroom and tarragon sauce sets it off well.

We both went with the same dessert. Rice pudding is, I think, a regular feature on the menu and rightly so. It’s a comforting dessert and comes topped with a seasonal fruit compote, in this case plums.

Service is spot on and just what you hope for in a neighbourhood gaff. They know who is having what – it’s an easy thing to note at the time or ordering and have to conclude that places that don’t do it simply can’t be arsed. And, in what I regard as one of the marks of a “good place” they know there’s no need to keep checking “is everything OK” – customers will speak up if it isn’t.

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

― Jonathan Gold