Pot Kettle Black Coffee – Manchester

“Manchester based, Indie coffee gaff PKB have added a decent brunch to the offer. Its worth a punt”

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The Flame texted in. “Im in town to take your present back to Marks, where you taking me for lunch?”. Bit cheeky, but hey Its Monday, normally a slimming day, thinking on my feet I suggest meeting at Pot Kettle Black. Time 12.30. It’s a short scutch down Deansgate from the office to the rather grand Barton Arcade. PKB is stationed within behind Spanish favourite Lunya (reviewed here). Ive been to PKB quite a few times. The witty blackboards stationed on Deansgate and St Anns Square have drawn me in a many times for a quick brew and the odd bowl of morning porridge. Lately its had a moderate make over and added a brunch menu that I’ve fancied trying. The meeting was set.

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The splendid Barton Arcade, Witty blackboards

The Flame was already stationed in the window on the newly acquired touch down, rough hewn planks that are nailed into the window bays. We sat on the hessian covered stools and surveyed the dinky little A5 menu, itself clipped to a piece of hardboard. You’re perhaps getting the idea of the decor and makeover? Its pure vintage, casual, quirky and smart. I love it. A big high communal table is available to share alongside standard tables and chairs. A new express hatch directly into the arcade is part of the alterations.

I ordered up at the bar. An array of tray baked brownies adorn. The staff, young and hip are decked out in branded T shirts. Once paid, the cutlery was presented in a vintage tin along with my numbered spoon.

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The menu is largely egg based along with the ubiquitous avocado. Carbs are added with a variety of herby, flavoured, sourdough bread. The eggs are done all ways, many of them submerged in glorious spicy sauce. On this occasion I had the ‘saganaki’ version (£9) whilst The Flame plumbed for the poached eggs and avocado (£8.50). We ordered strong, black, americano coffees to go with them.

The saganaki eggs featured feta, chilli and spinach and came with olive and rosemary sourdough toast. Set in a wonderful deep blue bowl the two, plump, soft baked eggs were swamped in a glorious, spicy, tomato stew. The stiff toast doubling up as a scoop and mop for the uncious goo. What a glorious, healthy lunch. So much so, I had the spicier N’duja eggs a few days later!

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Avocado with poached eggs, saganaki eggs

Im not a major fan of avocado but The Flame loved her soft poached eggs on avocado too. Eggs looked good and it was a decent coffee. Nicely presented on its little tray with a goblet of water and a chocolate cigar.

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All in all couldn’t fault it. £22 for a very pleasant lunchette. It seems breakfast and brunch is becoming quite a ‘thing’. Im all for it, love going out for breakfast so I reckon its here to stay. I know there are quite a few places in the city doing this now. The northern quarter in particular but I reckon PKB can hold its own with them. They are open from 8am at the weekends now. So no excuses to hit the corporate, American coffee shops when we have our own right here. Give it a try…..

Pot Kettle Black Coffee
Unit 14, Barton Arcade
Deansgate
Manchester
M3 2BW

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The White Swan at Fence, Lancashire

“By pure coincidence I am reading Commandment 5 in his book The Ten Commandments of Food by Jay Rayner. It states “Thou Shalt Not Cut Off The Fat”. I had a glorious piece of beef with globs of golden fat at The White Swan at Fence. Its where all the flavour is!”

The White Swan has been on the list for sometime, indeed Jay Rayner himself has dined and proclaimed allegiance to this quaint little public house in the rural shadows of Pendle Hill. Its yet another glorious stab on the map for Lancashire.

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We began the hours run in glorious sunshine, but on arrival the clouds had descended. The poor light didn’t particularly help the aspect. The building appeared more brown cygnet than graceful white Swan. It is small, out of the way, and next door’s scaffolding grafted at one end added to the slightly disappointing initial impression. Venturing round the back there is some smart outdoor seating, which I’m sure would be most welcoming in better weather. That said once inside things soon picked up. Despite not many people being inside there was an immediate warmth as we were welcomed in with a beaming smile.

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A glorious, polished welcoming bar hits first. A larger, naturally lit room opens up to the right, a smaller, darker room is left through an arch. Having the pick of the tables we decided this would be the room to go for. It was tastefully festooned with local countryside accoutrements. A couple of full antlered deer had hit the walls hard from outside and candlelit pentagons ladened the cills. We settled with a pint of Timothy Taylor’s and ruminated over the bijou and well set menu. It’s a simple A5 card clipped to a board. Three starts, three mains, three afters. Simplicity itself.

As ever for me a blindfold and a pin would have sufficed. The Flame however, was struggling a bit with the limited choice. We got there though.

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Potato skins, girolles, egg & truffle, the cheese biscuits

For starters The Flame had the stuffed jacket skins with Lancashire cheese and chives (£5). I went for the Scottish girolles, runny egg and truffle sauce (£8). It came in a curvaceous bowl, the yolk was wonderfully sous vide and soon melded into the buttered girolles. I ate it with a spoon. It was absolutely sublime.

For mains The Flame went for the Lune wild salmon, girolles, lemon and lovage (£18). Beautifully cooked and presented she was a little disappointed with the portion size and lack of sides. We had an extra portion of the sunday trimmings to bolster the offer.

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Pink Dexter beef with all the trimmings

I went for the dexter beef and all the sunday trimmings (£18). Ive never had dexter beef before but it wont be the last time. Not sure Ive ever had beef as tasty as this. Cooked pink with a swathe of golden fat along one edge it was totally ‘historic’. The trimmings were just as good too. As the Masterchef greengrocer would say “smooth, hot buttery mash and beautifully seasoned”. Buttery barrelled carrots and cabbage, great yorkshires and cauliflower cheese though the ‘roastie’ was a bit over to be honest.   All in all a great sunday roast.

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The lune salmon with girolles lemon and lovage

As ever a dessert for me. Baked egg custard, bilberries and earl grey tea ice cream (£7). Never has the term ‘less is more’ been more apt to describe the genius of this delightful morsel of sweet heaven. As Mr Rayner himself quotes “no one needs dessert”, as we are always full from our savoury courses, but thankfully I persevered! It was simply stunning, I could have eaten bowls of it.

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The mammoth cheeseboard and the sublime egg custard

The Flame had two cheeses from the cheeseboard (£6), I say cheeseboard, more like a cheese table! I reckon the HSE should get involved it must have weighed a ton. Ive never seen so much cheese. But fair play, the jovial waitress described every one. We settled on a red Leicester and a sensational Killeen goats cheese Gouda. Thats going on the list as a buy!

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The bill came in at £75 with a tip. Hardly your two for a tenner gaff this! This is a real food lovers experience, Its probably fair to say if you are a bit fussy this might not be for you. As for me I’d happily eat here everyday for ever……..

white swan

300 wheatley lane road

fence

bb12 9qa

01282 611773
http://www.whiteswanatfence.co.uk