Sunday 31 May 2015

Grill Stock 2015 – Manchester

Here are some pictures from Saturday’s Grill Stock, including the “King of the Grill” – Hot Wing Competition, which I helped to judge. A great day out! 

The professional judges! 

Serious stuff! 
Bubble man! 
Some of the Competition Pit Crews! 
Wing prep and cooking! 

Loved the presentation!
Hot stuff! 

Full Rack of Ribs from Grill Stock, Bristol

The Beefy Boys - Chipotle Boy


Saturday 30 May 2015

The Easy Fish Co. - Heaton Moor, Manchester

There’s nothing fishy about restaurants in Manchester… by that, I mean that since Sole cast away its nets and became burger slinging SoLita and Livebait died, there has been no dedicated fish restaurant of note.

A while back (at least 2 or 3 years), The Easy Fish Co. in Heaton Moor opened a small café in the back of their fishmongers (which my brother in law has been telling me to check out); then, at the end of last year, they have extended the number of covers and opening hours to finally give Manchester a “proper” fish restaurant.

Not only is it a proper fish restaurant… it’s a proper good one too!

My main of Roasted cod with smoked Applewood & bacon hash, served with silver skin onions and a red wine sauce was an imaginative dish, beautifully cooked with well balanced flavours. The same could be said of the Salmon scotch egg starter.

With my love of all things pickled, the ‘Pickled Board’ was delightful. I’d have liked it if the cucumber strips had been pickled too but the sweet pickled herring was so, so good that I’ve not stopped thinking about it since.

What I liked about is were the simple things done well – good Whitebait, well presented; Oysters served with classic accompaniments and a subtle horseradish crème fraiche for those wanting something a little different.  

‘Pickled Board’ – pickled clams, sweet pickled herring,
pickled crayfish, gherkins & soda bread

 Oysters – natural, shallot & red wine vinegar,
horseradish crème fraiche

A cone of whitebait with garlic lemon & parsley mayo

Salmon scotch egg, pickled beetroot & saffron crème fraiche

Roasted cod, smoked Applewood & bacon hash
with silver skin & red wine sauce

Chocolate orange pot with berries & brandy snap

With decent desserts too, even after one visit The Easy Fish Co. has made its way onto my figurative list of favourite Manchester restaurants.

Friday 29 May 2015

Tariff & Dale, N/4 Manchester

Although sounding like a 70’s cop show, Tariff & Dale refers to its location on the corner of Tariff Street and Dale Street.  

Housed in a former cotton warehouse, the Bar & Kitchen "fit out" impressed – I didn’t linger in the upstairs bar area but from walking through, it seems a cool place to hang out and drink. The restaurant is downstairs and ticks all the trendy boxes associated with Northern Quarter design (I wont bore you with the details).

Heading up the open kitchen and presiding over the showpiece wood fired pizza oven is local lad, Chef Chris Vernazza. Vernazza was recently sous chef at Harvey Nichols 2nd Floor Restaurant but has also spent time in the kitchens of The Hand & Flowers and Five Fields.

I’ve visited on two occasions – the fist time, not everything "wowed". The Beef Tartare lacked a little something; although I liked the gimmick, the ‘éclair’ part of the Beef Shin & Marrow didn’t quite work for me (the sticky glaze looked great but was cloying and so sticky it stuck in place the flavour did not permeate the dish) and, worst of all, I ended up taking to twitter to describe my ‘triple cooked’ chips as ‘barely cooked’.

There were positives though – I liked the pizza and the beef shin itself and bone marrow mash were very good. When asked if I enjoyed my meal, I gave what I hoped was “constructive” criticism.

On my return and week or so later, the tartare had undergone a few tweaks and the Triple Cooked Chips were worthy of their name.  On a low carb diet, my wife opted for the Charcuterie Board, which I’m pleased to say featured some quality British produce from Woodall’s.

Beef Tartare v1

To my mind, Honest Crust are the benchmark for good pizzas in the North West. The Sourdough Pizzas here, although enjoyable, are not contenders for the Honest Crust crown – a hotter oven and dough proven for a little longer may remedy this. That said, having not yet been to Ply, you may struggle to find better in the city centre. Edit: apparently the crust needs more “leoparding” (Thanks to @donkomaniac for the terminology).

One more thing, the Pork Nuggets were great – I’ll be ordering two portions of these little beauties on my next visit.

Beef Tartare v2
Small Plate: Beef Tartare

Small Plate: Pork Nuggets

Wood Fired Sourdough Pizza: Anchovies & Charred Pepper

Wood Fired Sourdough Pizza: Nduja

Sides: Triple Cooked Chips

Sides: Broccoli & Chilli

Large plate: Beef Shin & Marrow

Charcuterie Board

Dessert: Big Kids Honeycomb

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