Ever since my mother moved to Spain I’ve not been certain who in the UK cooks the best Sunday lunch. My own is pretty good: I am usually proud of my ‘roasties’ but have never quite perfected the Yorkshire puddings.
Back in October, I had a roast dinner at the AA Restaurant of the Year for England 2012-2013 – Aiden Byrne’s The Church Green British Grill. This was pretty special and I thought maybe I had discovered Manchester’s Best Sunday Lunch.
A week later, the Observer Food Monthly published their yearly Awards in which they announced that The Parlour in Chorlton serves not only Manchester's Best Sunday Lunch, nor even the best in the North West but ‘Britain’s Best Sunday Lunch for 2012’.
You may be wondering, which one, in my opinion serves the best Sunday roast; the winner of the AA Restaurant of the Year or the winner of the Observer Food Monthly Award?
Breaking it down into categories:
Meat: Church Green v The Parlour
At the Parlour I had the Roast Beef with Horseradish (my wife had Roast Pork and Apple sauce). At the Church Green, I had the Roast Topside (of Beef).
Both, as expected, serve quality meat cooked to perfection. At the Church Green two courses cost £19, at The Parlour it cost me £17.20 (£5.25 starter and £11.95) main. To me, the £1.80 difference at The Church Green was more than justified by the extra slice of meat that I also felt won on flavour.
Meat winner: Church Green
Roast Potatoes: Church Green v The Parlour
Again the Church Green was more generous, serving 4 to the Parlour’s 3 ‘roasties’. However, I felt the Parlour’s had the edge on colouring, crunch and flavour.
Roasties winner: The Parlour
Mash: Church Green v The Parlour
The Church Green served a large silky smooth quenelle of rich buttery mash made with premium Yukon Gold potatoes. The Parlour’s was pale in comparison.
Mash winner: Church Green
Yorkshire Pudding: Church Green v The Parlour
Visually the Parlour’s ‘yorkie’ takes some beating but I felt what it had gained in height was lost in texture and flavour. The lighter Church Green version won through on flavour for me; its hole to make a ‘gravy well’ an added bonus.
Yorkshire Pudding: Church Green
Veg: Church Green v The Parlour
The Parlour’s parsnips with honey and wholegrain mustard were a delight, as was their braised red cabbage and carrot and swede mash.
The Church Green provided a generous serving of vibrant broccoli, cumin carrots, green beans and cauliflower cheese. I love cauliflower cheese and the carrots were perfectly spiced and cooked to retain a bite.
Veg winner: Church Green
Gravy: Church Green v The Parlour
The Church Green’s gravy was served in a jug on the side and as I enjoy pouring my own this earns a plus one from me but I found The Parlour’s gravy was a little more robust in flavour.
Gravy winner: The Parlour
Presentation: Church Green v The Parlour
A tough one to call - The Parlour’s presentation is much more homey and rustic, befitting of the surroundings and the towering yorkie does have a wow factor as it is brought towards you by the waiter.
The Church Green’s presentation is more refined and ‘restauranty’ with the food being served on Aiden Byrne’s signature slates and ‘Asymmetry’ crockery by Spode.
Presentation winner: Church Green
Décor / Ambience: Church Green v The Parlour
Although both venues share many similarities, they are also very different in terms of overall vibe. The Church Green is located in the leafy Cheshire village of Lymm whereas The Parlour is in the hip suburban Chorlton. Many of the Church Green’s customers drive Range Rovers whilst The Parlour’s are perhaps more likely to be found on a bicycle. What customers share in common the most is a love of great quality food. For me, The Parlour gets the nod thanks to their jukebox.
Décor / Ambience winner: The Parlour
Service: Church Green v The Parlour
Both venues offer great service. The Church Green’s is a little more formal but no less friendly.
Service winner: Church Green & The Parlour = joint winners
Overall winner of the best Sunday Lunch: Inspired by this year’s MasterChef Final, I am not going to pick a winner – the real winners are the people of the North West who have both of these excellent places to visit!