Sure, this is a proper pub. But the food belies any such typical associations. In the age of pubs also being restaurants, there’s often little difference in what’s on the plate and some of the best food in the land can now be eaten with a pint of IPA.
Starter wise we ordered the Beetroot Salad; varied chunks of perfectly cooked and acid balanced beet with a stunning beet sorbet, garnished with fronds and leaves. Straight away, it looked a few rungs above anything served in my own local. This dish, hand on heart, would comfortably sit on the menu at any of Greater Manchester’s top dining rooms barring our Star-level options, who do their own niche thing. High praise.
Game Terrine with brioche contained cubes of venison, grouse and premium liver, all bound with silky parfait to form said terrine. Seasonality tick box nailed. The brioche came with a cracking HP chutney. A simple, classic and timeless dish for good reason.
We greedily ordered the bread (£4), which was a splendid 5 seed sourdough from the always excellent Companio just down the road. It was great to see somebody using bread from somewhere which isn’t Pollen in all honesty. We love them as much as anyone, but at times it feels like a case of Taco Bell in Stallone’s Demolition Man. We are a small city, and variety matters.
Mains arrived, starting with the (p)ubiquitous Fish and Chips. The chips were hand cut, reassuringly uneven in length and fried to perfection with a pot of house-made mushy peas. The cod was plentiful, cooked to a translucent ideal, and the batter was largely crispy and delicious. A lemon wedge with its ends cut off is a minor detail which speaks volumes to the trained eye.
Suet Pudding is a personal favourite dish, especially in pub realms. This was textbook. The filling was accurately cubed beef, cooked as it should be and well-seasoned with huge depth of flavour. The pastry was just the right thickness, and the saucing tasted of unrecognised yet clear talent. We wanted more of Chef’s work.
Sticky Toffee Pudding was pleasant and admirable in size too. The pud itself was rich with the right amount of bounce, and served in a cast iron pot, with a ball of ice cream on the side.
Champagne and Figs was as fancy as it sounds, but nowhere near as pricy. Slithers of fig, sat between numerous ice creams and mousses, dotted with gel and leaves along with some textural change from the champagne jelly disk and scattered crumb. Another quality plate which you don’t expect to find in a pub for this much money