[West Didsbury, Manchester] Lime Tree

This was our first restaurant dinner since last September. During the lockdowns, we’d swapped our weekly night out for a weekly night in with a Deliveroo ordered from a restaurant, not a takeaway. It’s been a small way of supporting the businesses. But it was good to be back in an actual restaurant – it’s the whole experience, not just about getting fed. It’s the buzz. It’s not having to do the washing up.

It didn’t take us long to decide this first meal would be at the Lime Tree. We’ve been coming for years. It’s always an attractive menu where you’re spoilt for choice. And, from a visit last summer, we knew they’d got their Covid-secure arrangements properly nailed. Exactly the sort of place where you can sit down and relax for an hour or so.

My companion in life can never resist a soufflé so the starter choice was easy. This one was very cheesey (that is a good thing) – the soufflé itself and the accompanying Mornay sauce. There was a sprinkling of hazelnuts for a bit of crunch. My own starter was also a no-brainer. I am rarely going to look past mention of “crispy pork belly”. In this case, there’s cubes of soft, delicious meat, topped with perfectly crisp crackling. Alongside, there’s a slaw – thinly sliced red cabbage and the like, dressed with the twang from citrus, the heat from Sriracha and the crunch of peanuts. Very East Asiany.

It’s not often I order steak in a restaurant. There always seems to be something more interesting on the menu. But not this time. A thinnish slab of 21 day aged sirloin comes in a mild pepper sauce, with a single field mushroom (not the plural of the menu description) and fries. It was cooked spot on, as requested, and was fine in the way that steak and chips will always be fine. The other main was seabass, perfectly cooked with the exception of a lack of crispness to the skin. The fillet say on a mound of saute potatoes, braised fennel and spinach which were ideal accompaniments. There was a simple butter sauce spiked with capers and chives. We shared an order of crisp courgette fritters to up our “five a day” count.

We passed on dessert and finished with decent, if lukewarm, espresso.

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Nice! It certainly had been quite a while for you all up there.

I love savoury souffles - I still remembered the classic spinach soufflé with anchovy sauce I had at Michael Caine’s Langan’s Brasserie in Piccadilly back in 1990 or so.

The souffle at La Gavroche is outstanding. Worth it’s two Michelin stars on that dish alone!

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I’ve never had the opportunity to try it.

Wonder how difficult it might be to try and reproduce it ourselves at home!

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

― Jonathan Gold