[Sale, Greater Manchester] Perfect Match

There’s a couple of perfect matches at play here. Firstly, there’s the couple who own it. Jazz (her) is the chef. Andrea (him) runs front of house. Both do it excellently. Andrea is a trained sommelier and that brings me to the second perfect match. He brings his skill to bear to suggest a matching wine, by the glass, for each individual dish on the menu. It’s the sort of thing you’d see at a high end place offering a multi course tasting menu but, out in the suburbs at a neighbourhood restaurant, it’s a delight to find. Andrea is Italian and, whilst there are Italian influences on the menu, this is not an Italian restaurant.

Red pepper croquettes were as good as any you’ll find in Spain. Well flavoured béchamel mixed with the peppers, then breadcrumbed and fried to crisp. And they come with a very pokey aioli. The other starter was pasta (it can also be taken as a main course). Properly al dente trofie held the courgette cream sauce well and little bits of crispy guanciale provided a salty, meaty texture contrast. It was the best pasta dish I’ve eaten in ages.

Breast of lamb is also something you’re not going to come across too often in South Manchester restaurants. Here’s it’s very long cooked, the meat falling apart at the touch of a fork but the fat still sweet and slippery (yes, that is a good thing). It came with carrot batons, finished in lamb fat, carrot puree, a few sprigs of chervil and shitake mushrooms. All really nice, although the soy based pickling of the mushroom could have been more assertive (but I’m nit-picking here). Rump steak was 32 aged and comes from the Butchers Block in Poynton (from where our steaks for tomorrow’s dinner at home come from). Some real skill shown here by Jazz – cooked to medium yet still soft and tender meat – not what you expect from rump. The steak comes with roasted cherry tomatoes and fries. Jazz has worked at one of the London branches of steakhouse mini-chain Hawksmoor so perhaps not surprising that she knows her way around a bit of steak. She’s also nicked their idea of a side salad consisting of nothing more than dressed leaves of butterhead lettuce. The floppy leaves perfect for picking up the last of the red wine sauce.

We both went with the same dessert – peanut butter pie. It’s outstanding. Rich, yet not overly sweet. There’s a biscuit base and sides to the tart and a peanut butter cream filling – think a sort of tart version of cheesecake, for textures. It’s topped with candied peanuts and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Unsurprisingly, coffee was also very good.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo