Tag Archives: asparagus

TNQ – Northern Quarter Manchester

“Another good feed in Manchester. Nice view too….”

Every once in a while The Flame and I entertain a rather super Yorkshire couplet. A touch of jovial rivalry ensues. We take them to a Lancastrian offer whilst they treat us to a Yorkshire trek. See here for previous encounters! It was our turn this cold, blustery Sunday in June. We met in a (fairly) central location…Manchester! I decided to stick to the Northern Quarter end.

First stop (the now famous?) Port Street Beer House. We take a fine window table on the first floor. A pint of Bread and Butter! settles the nerves, the conversation flows. Next stop Ply. Charlie is impressed by the ale and the plain wooden furniture. It’s all going well. Three o clock dawns and we hit our preordained slot in TNQ. It’s been ‘on the list’ for some time now.

menu, whitebait
menu, whitebait

We enter the smart, green corner plot and nestle into our superb table for four. Right in the corner by the big front window. A fine view of the old Smithfield Market façade. The Yorkshire folk are chuffed. Charlie is quite particular about his table. We all issue a sigh of relief. It’s a great table set in a simple room. Green dominates outside and in. Simple wooden furniture keeps us and our plates off the floor. A nice IPA and some red wine have us purring, we flit down the simple Sunday roast menu. The menu is set out beautifully; its rear side boasts its local provenance. There’s plenty to go at for a quick Sunday menu and we all soon know what to have. Its good value too £16.95 for three courses.

squid, salad, soup
squid, salad, soup

The Yorkshire contingient went fishy for starts. One went White bait with a cheeky, chilli and paprika mayonnaise, the other salt and pepper squid, which arrived with a noodle salad and a chilli and lime dressing.
The Flame went for the healthy beetroot and goats cheese salad whilst I go very safe and play with the asparagus veloute. It all looks well and the report card from all has a big tick on it. My soup boasts a quails egg. I think there was one somewhere but it was severely deformed and didn’t have a yolk. The soups was good though, very nice.

One half of the Lancashire and Yorkshire contingent went chicken pie whilst the other went traditional roast. I say chicken pie, it should more accurately read goosnargh chicken with wild mushroom pie. It came with some super chips. The pie had a puff pastry lid. Lifting up revealed a big tasty filling packed with chicken and flavour. I’m sure there was some tarragon in there during my customary mouthful. Wonderful stuff.

Goosnargh chicken pie
Goosnargh chicken pie

Such is my lust for conversation and all round bonhomie I’m half way through my roast before noticing that my freshly ordered pink Cheshire lamb is in fact a few good slices of medium Cheshire beef! Feeling a little perturbed I plough on. My fellow roast compatriot goes for a sensational looking ‘Barry Pughs suckling pig’. It’s a decent roast, no danger.

decent roast, salted cheescake
decent roast, salted cheescake

Whilst all around pale and quake, The Cooktwit presses on. A salted chocolate and honeycomb cheesecake with pistachio sauce rounds off a very pleasing luncheon. We all agree the Lancashire bar has been set high once again. It’s up to Leeds next time! I might have lamb next time…

108 High Street,
Manchester M4 1HQ
0161 832 7115

Tomato, Asparagus, Cheese Tart

This is a brilliant, tasty and simple dish to make. I did it as a starter for six people. I just threw it in the middle and carved it up with a pizza wheel. Went down a storm. The recipe comes from the ever reliable Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (River Cottage) and his equally reliable Veg book.   The basic ingredients are the puff pastry, some veg, some herbs and some cheese! You could apply some variations quite happily with equally good results. Ive done a few versions. They all work. The basic principle is the same: crisp pastry, soft caramelised tomato, tangy cheese.

ingredients, a bit of prep
ingredients, a bit of prep
  • A little sunflower oil
  • ½ teaspoon fine cornmeal or polenta (optional)
  • 375g all-butter, ready-made puff pastry
  • Beaten egg, for brushing
  • About 350g tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • A little extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil
  • 100g rinded goat’s cheese (I used mozzarella)
  • 125g Asparagus (trimmed and sliced lengthways)
  • A handful of thyme sprigs, leaves only
  • Sea salt and freshly ground
  • black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. Lightly oil a baking sheet and scatter over a little fine cornmeal or polenta, if you have some – this helps to keep the pastry really crisp.
  • Roll out the pastry fairly thinly and trim to a rectangle about 30 x 25cm. Put it on the baking sheet. Cut a 1cm strip from each edge. Brush these strips with a little beaten egg, then stick on to the edges of the rectangle, to form a slightly raised border. Brush the edges with a little more egg.
  • Thinly slice the tomatoes across into 2–3mm slices; discard the stalky top and skinny bottom slices. Scatter the garlic over the pastry, then arrange the sliced tomatoes on top, overlapping them only slightly. I used cherry tomatoes on this occasion and simply scattered them over. Season with salt and pepper and trickle with a little oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and lightly browned.
  • Take the tart out of the oven, scatter over the cheese and thyme, add another twist of pepper and a trickle of oil, and return to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melty and bubbly and the pastry golden brown. You can serve this hot, but I think it’s better half an hour or so after it comes out of the oven, with a green salad.image

VARIATIONS Basil and mozzarella tart

  • Replace the goat’s cheese with 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella (about 125g), torn into small pieces. Replace the thyme with a couple of tablespoons of shredded basil – but add this after the tart is cooked, not before.

Rosemary and pecorino tart

  • Replace the goat’s cheese with a generous grating of pecorino or Parmesan, and the thyme leaves with 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary.

Blue cheese and chives tart

  • Replace the goat’s cheese with crumbled blue cheese. Omit the thyme. Scatter a chopped handful of chives over the tart once it is cooked.