Wednesday 30 April 2014

Some things I ate in Manchester during April

April has been a good eating month for me. A cracking meal at L’Enclume and return visits to The French and Manchester House – as seen on TV in BBC2’s Restaurant Wars (on which myself and my blog made a guest appearance.)

On a half term trip to New York, I was lucky enough to dine in Public, Per Se, Le Benardin, Brooklyn Fare Momofuku Ko and Eleven Madison Park. Per Se was the pick of the bunch in terms of food and service but I loved the vibe at Brooklyn Fare, Ko and Public.

On a short trip to Spain I gave the Michelin guide a miss and focused on eating good quality ‘peasant food’ in rural farming villages. Lots of Callos, Conejo and Carbrito – including a dish made solely from congealed goat’s blood.

My Manchester eating itinerary saw a return to some new and old favourites (Beef & Pudding, Mughli & The Shoulder of Mutton) as well as checking out some for the first time (Ban Di Bull, Nasi Lemak, Mud Crab and Côte).

Ban Di Bul – Korean

Ban Di Bul is a Korean restaurant, centrally located on Princess Street. It’s one of those places I have walked past on numerous occasions but had not got around to visiting.

I found the food on a par with other Korean offerings in the city (Koreana, Baekdu, Eat Goody & Seoul Kimchi) – as authentic as availability of ingredients allows but generally homely in style. 

Kimchi set – Kimchi (Spicy, pickled preserved cabbage), Oh Ee Kimchi (Pickled cucumber in red chilli), Kak Too Gi (pickled diced white radish)

Namool set – seasoned spinach, radish and bean sprouts

Dak mo rea jim – stir fried chicken gizzard. Great dish – all about the texture… like chewy, crunchy whelks.

Yok hae bi bim bum – steamed rice with raw beef and vegetables in a hot stone bowl. Nicely put together (unfortunately I didn’t get a pic before it was mixed).

Sae u gu I – prawns with special sauce. Decent enough. Cooked on the ‘BBQ’ in the centre of the table.

Ca dul ba gi – marbled beef. The quality of this was a little disappointing for the price Not the most marbled of marbled beefs.

O sam bul go gi – squid and pork with vegetables. A large portion with a deliciously fiery sauce.

Pa-jeo ri - seasoned spring onion. A lovely side dish, definitely worth ordering.

Mr Coopers House & Garden

The French may get all the national plaudits and TV coverage but it’s important not to overlook Simon Rogan’s ‘everyday restaurant’ in The Midland Hotel – consistently one of the best restaurants in city. For cocktail lovers, one of the best bars in Manchester too.

Fried brioche, black pudding, apple & bacon jam

Anise crusted sweetbreads, saffron risotto & fried leeks

Confit duck fritter, spiced red cabbage & roasted duck breast

Caramel tart with mascarpone ice cream

Spiced madeleines, lemon curd, apricot & orange

Shoulder of Mutton, Holcombe

With my wife and stepdaughter visiting the theatre in nearby Bury, I made a long overdue return visit to the excellent Shoulder of Mutton. Head chef Chris Yates is back at the stoves after a stint in the Michelin starred kitchens at Northcote Manor.

Pork scratchings with truffle salt – fabulous big house made scratchings. The perfect pub snack.

Hand raised pork pie with piccalilli

Carroll’s heritage potato, leek & wild garlic soup with bacon puffs – I rarely order soup but the ‘bacon puff’ swayed it. As it turned out the bacon puff was not as ‘bacony’ or ‘flaky’ as I’d expected but the soup was very good indded.

Goosnargh wheat fed guinea fowl – Cavolo nero, glazed carrot, spring cabbage and crispy skin. A good dish. 

Trio of desserts: Chocolate fondant with rhubarb compote,  Vanilla pannacotta with orange jelly, caramel espuma and pain d’epice crumb, Sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. 

Beef & Pudding – Sunday Lunch

Beef & Pudding has been the subject of a number of reviews and blog posts since it opened a month or so ago – not all of them 100% positive. My wife and I love it, and the people. Not to mention, easily one of the best roasts available in the city centre.

Crispy tripe, Lancashire Cheese & pickled onions – great cheese, deliciously sharp picked onions but no where near enough of the crispy tripe!

Roast rump of mature English beef – Yorkshire pudding, crisp duck fat potatoes, market vegetables and gravy. My tip is to go for the roast from the specials board, not the set menu… it’s larger and you get two of the delicious Yorkies!

Crème brûlée – peppered raspberry vodka shot. A decent crème brûlée.

Côte Brasserie

My often misguided foodist snobbery, means that I don’t normally “do” chains, but I do like a bit of French brasserie food and have heard that Côte is one of the better ones.

Having newly opened in Manchester (next to Gaucho, down the side of Kendals), I thought I’d check out their lunch deal. At £9.95 for two courses (+ £2 supplement for ‘steak frites’) I’d definitely go back. For the money, I couldn’t quibble with the quality of the food, service and environment. 

A fan of the traditional Nice flatbreads, I also ordered a Pissaladière. Being picky, I’d say that I’m not a fan of the cheap black olives and it could’ve had a few more anchovies but it still made for a tasty snack.

Chicken liver parfait with cornichons – chargrilled baguette.

Steak frites – chargrilled minute steak with frites and garlic butter.

Nasi Lemak at The Friendship Inn

Despite often seeing the students sat outside in the sunshine and visiting the nearby kebab shops, I’ve never been to the Friendship Inn in Fallowfield before - I’m just not a pub person (‘gastropubs’ and obvious exception).

On the flipside to the usual downbeat pub grub is a Malaysian led South East Asian fusion menu under the banner of Nasi Lemak. I first heard about this from their twitter account @NasiLemakM14. The prices and dishes are obviously largely aimed at the pub’s large student clientele

“Popia rolls” – not like the popiah rolls I’ve had in KL but decent enough as spring rolls. I opted for the vegetable filling which came “vinegar dip” (read sweet chilli from a bottle).

Taukua sumbat – fried tofu stuffed with beansprouts, cucumber and a peanut dip. A generous portion but I found the filling a little watery.

Ikan bakar – cod fillet baked on a banana leaf, smothered with onion sambal. The sauce was good but the fish let the dish down for me.

Nasi lemak – rice cooked with coconut milk, Malay herbs and pandan leaves with peanuts, crispy anchovies, cucumber slices and sambal sauce. This was good. Aromatic flavourful rice with lovely textures from the accompaniments.

Mud Crab, Didsbury

Mud Crab is the ‘new’ (not so now) offering from the group behind Felicini, Grinch and Cheadle Hulme’s (disap)Pointing Dog. I usually avoid places that have menus that appear to be trying to ‘be all things to all men’ but I found myself in Didsbury and popped in for a spot of brunch. To be fair, my expectations were low and it didn’t let me down.

Breakfast in a bun – sausage, bacon, fried egg & cheddar cheese. Not bad.

Buttermilk pancakes & maple syrup – apple compote and smoked bacon. Disappointing pappy pancakes.

Steak & eggs – flash grilled skirt steak. Tough as old boots.

Mughli, Manchester’s ‘Curry Mile’

For a year or so I’ve championed Mughli as the best ‘curry house’ on the Curry Mile – increasing numbers of people are saying it’s the best in the whole of Manchester. We certainly love it.

Popadoms with chutney tray: mango, mint yoghurt, Indian salad, chilli imli (chilli and tamarind), garlic pickle, red onions. Great to have a biyt more variety

Pani puri – puffed puris filled with chickpea and potato chaat, topped with sweet yoghurt, crispy sev, red onions and pomegranate seeds.

Chilli okra fries – bullet chilli and okra in a crisp Mumbai batter. Probably my favourite of Mughli’s ‘Street Food’ style appetisers.

Lamb chops – from the charcoal pit. Up there with the best.

Tamarind masala fish – fresh haddock in a masala batter, tossed in a chilli tamarind and lime dressing. Another fave, the spices well balanced for the meaty chunks of fish.

Kulchi – char grilled chicken tikka with minced lamb. As recommended by Haz (the brother who controls their social media @mughli). A great dish – full of authentic flavour.

Paneer korma – my wife, who prefers something mild, often orders the korma. I’ve heard talk that the new Mughli menu will be see the end of the korma as they continue in their development away from the hackneyed ‘favourites’ lingering from the curry mile’s heyday in the 80s – as long as they replace it with another mild option I’m sure my wife will be happy.

Sides: Okra & onions / Steamed rice / Tandoori parata / Dahl tarka

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