[West Didsbury, Manchester] Rose Garden

It’s about 12 months since we last ate here. I’d looked at the menu online before we left home and knew exactly what I was going to order. Then, wouldn’t you just know it? Yep, they’ve completely changed the menu. I had to start all over again. And it’s never easy here. In spite of there being only half a dozen or so choices at each course, I’d happily eat the lot. We narrowed it down a bit by just looking at the well priced set menu – two courses for £21.

They’d run out of ravioli, a first choice starter but the second choice was pretty good – a chestnut and mushroom soup. Alongside, a blob of redcurrant crème fraiche and some bread. So, do you stir the crème into the soup, like a rouille, or spread it on the bread like butter? Both were tried – spreading it on the bread was the better bet. The other starter featured hare – a little bit of loin, a little bit of parfait (?), a blob or two of a fruity sauce and a mild goats cheese. These were both good dishes – seasonal and spot on for a chilly night.

There was a Spanish feel to one main course. Hake was perfectly cooked and sat on a bed of squid and chorizo cassoulet – tomato and butter beans I suppose making it into the cassoulet. There’s patatas bravas and squid ink dumplings – the latter adding not much flavour but did look pretty on the plate. The kitchen went further afield with a “duck three ways”. There was perfectly pink breast, a duck spring roll and duck toast sprinkled with sesame seeds (think the usual prawn toast in your local Chinese). This all sat on a noodle and vegetable stirfry. So far, this was pretty much faultless but the advertised plum sauce was hardly in evidence and added nothing – a more assertive sauce would have set it all off.

When you’re on a set menu, portion size can be an issue and you leave wondering if a bag of chips is needed before you get home. But it’s not something to worry about here. Portions were properly balanced and, in fact, we had no need for dessert.

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Roll up, roll up, roll up.

Last chance of eating here imminent. Due to close next month as the owners are moving to Cornwall (?).

Cornwall’s gain, Manchester’s loss.

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

― Jonathan Gold