Tag Archives: beef and pudding

Four Day Tea Tour of Manchester

During the traumatic week that The Cooktwit was left marooned and had to fend for himself with a five day breakfast blitz of Manchester (see here) he also had to endure eating out straight after work for his tea as well. These things are sent to try us, but you’ll be pleased to know I gave it a good go. I deliberately chose either quirky, relatively new, or just plain different from my normal fayre.

If you’re canny Monday night in Manchester can yield a few bargains. I figured the 50% off food deal at Tariff and Dale, hip new pizza joint in the Northern Quarter would be a good start. And indeed it was. £9.60 all in for a rather fine Outstanding Brewery IPA, a rather generous plate of hot Njuda sausage and chilli pizza and a rather fine tublet of slaw. The pizza was a belter, typified by the rather fine ‘leoparding’ around the edge, ensuring the excellent dough base had been ‘caught’ at just the right time. I ate downstairs in the ubiquitous, NQ, industrialised decor. A thoroughly pleasant teatime feast.

Pizza and slaw
Pizza and slaw
More pizza with leoparding.
More pizza with leoparding.

Tuesday, it was over to another new, Northern Quarter outfit. This time Yard and Coop. It’s modus operandi is to ply the locals in buttermilk fried chicken. I’ve become fairly addicted to this stuff via streetfood favourites Mumma Schnitzel, so I was quite looking forward to compare. I had two decent chunks of boneless thigh. It comes with a much darker (and hence different tasting) crumb than Mummas, but it was nonetheless rather good. The chicken beautifully succulent. I had a couple of sides, a bean salad with creme fraiche which was rather good and a spicy slaw which was not. There was no mayo in it, so it was curiously dry, livening up only when a kick of spice became apparent. Had a corking vanilla milkshake with it. All in around £14. Loved the place, anywhere with a cartoon fox on the wall and some chicken coops to sit in has to be good right?

Chicken and milkshake
Chicken and milkshake
More yardage and the comedy fox
More yardage and the comedy fox

Sticking to the Northern Quarter I then nipped into El Capo for some Mexican tapas (via a rather splendid Seven Brothers Pale ale and a mojito at Beef and Pudding!). I can’t really tell you much about the decor. It was so dark down there I had to use my iphone torch to see the menu! That said I enjoyed the food. I had three plates, balls, heart and cheesy fritters. All really good actually. The cows heart with chilli was particularly good. Subtle liver taste and texture. The meatballs were massive. I imagined that size they would be too dry, but they weren’t. The cheesy fritters provided a lovely contrast to the other two spicy dishes. All in with a Shipyard IPA £18.

Heart balls and fritters. It's dark so apologies for the crap pics!
Heart balls and fritters. It’s dark so apologies for the crap pics!

A final touch of indulgence. Nipped into Hawksmoor (review here) for a lobster roll and chips. Slushed down with a Buxton IPA it was my biggest expenditure at £27.50, but Ye gods it was good. I recommend all to do this at least once! A lightly toasted brioche elongated roll (hot dog roll?) came stuffed with luscious chunks of sweet, garlic buttered lobster and a dish of buttery béarnaise sauce. I have waxed lyrically at the triple cooked chips before. Given it was sixish I had the exquisite restaurant to myself, I felt like a Lord! Forty five minutes of pure bliss.

Decadence, a lobbie roll
Decadence, a lobbie roll

The Flame came back Friday so it was back to a comforting salad for tea! Only kidding, we actually treated ourselves to a chippy tea. Rather good though I say so myself. Top week had by all. Spent a few bob but it was worth it. The new boys on the Manchester block delivered. Plenty more to come……..

http://www.tariffanddale.com   http://www.elcaponq.co.uk  www.yardandcoop.com   http://www.thehawksmoor.com

The Old Blind School – Liverpool

“It’s was only A bit of brunch but it was still a good feed”

It’s 9.30am Sunday morning, the flame and I have awoken from a slumber caused by a Saturday night Kylie Minogue gig! What to do for breakfast? I rather hopefully suggested a date at ‘The Old Blind School’ in Liverpool. Surprisingly, the flame considered this a good idea despite Liverpool being a forty minute train journey! We were on! Just after eleven we sauntered in to the latest and grandest addition to the NewMoon Company portfolio. We are big fans of Manchester’s ‘Beef and Pudding’ and so ever since the Twitter hype started ‘TOBS’ has been high on the list.

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It cuts a fine dash on Hardman Street; it’s a hop, skip and a jump from The Philharmonic. It’s a fine old grade two listed building. It’s actually difficult to believe that this is a restaurant. It is huge. Once in, we settled stage right on the ground floor. We were a little surprised at the lack of eating height tables, but we had little to fear. Dave Mooney (one of the owners) was on hand to supply a quick tour of the place, proudly revealing a further couple of floors. Upwards, via a magnificent staircase a further three rooms provide a veritable platoon of quality settings.

Some fittings
Some fittings

The walls are scattered with artworks reflecting the ‘Scouse’ heritage. ‘Lennon’ prints and nods to the original blind school usage make it more like an art gallery than a high end ‘gastro pub’. Not that that’s a bad thing. Greys, blues and yellows combine with wood, leather and daring chandeliers. It makes for a truly sumptuous experience.

More fittings
More fittings

As it was Sunday morning it was a heavily truncated menu. Its weekend brunch time. One of my favourite meals. It’s a cracking little booklet. Some slight variations to the normal suspects as well.

The brunch menu
The brunch menu

The Flame went for the 3 egg omelette or ‘Arnold Bennet’ as its called. It comes filled with naturally smoked haddock, cheddar cheese and double cream (£7.50). It was a fair old plate full, piping hot and chock full of flavour. The Flame really enjoyed it, but felt it needed a bit of something else, maybe some tomatoes for a change of texture and taste, but we are splitting hairs here. I went for the eggs benedict (£5.95) which were terrific; the ham was off the bone stuff, no pressed, boiled ham here. The hollandaise adding a luscious edge to the perfectly poached eggs. I washed this down with some French toast, served with strawberries and raspberries (£5.95) and lashings of hot coffee. The toast, super sticky and sweet. Good stuff.

French toast, haddock omelette, eggs benedict
French toast, haddock omelette, eggs benedict

It was only a quick impromptu visit and the ‘TOBS’ team were psyching themselves up for the father’s Day onslaught (the place was booked up twice over before five!). We’ll definitely be back for a stab at the super looking main menu which as with all the NewMoonCo outfits use quality raw materials.

The main menu
The main menu

And judging by this little visit, it would seem there’s someone who knows how to cook behind that newly transformed galley? A well marshalled fleet of smiling service staff, (Emily and Beefy’s Ashley were on hand this time) should ensure continued progress and success. Liverpool seems to be following hard on the heels of Manchester’s foodie explosion. TOBS is here ready and waiting! Bring it on!

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The Old Blind School
24 Hardman Street
Liverpool
L1 9AX
0151 709 8002

http://www.oldblindschool.co.uk

Top Ten Dishes of 2014

Not wishing to miss out on a shameless plug for the Cook Twit blog and a chance to rehash some of my earlier work with minimal effort, I thought I’d jump full square on to the food bloggers best of 2014 bandwagon. 2014 has been a great year for grub. Though thanks to the fast diet I’m 6lbs lighter!

As one mate says to me “Do you ever have a crap meal”. Well generally because I go to places that other foodies on twitter have recommended, the answer is No. So I should add if there are places not mentioned below who know I’ve visited them. It is no slight, it is merely the fact that these had a slight, undefinable edge. There are thousands of dishes at number 11 !

Its my view that a quality dish chimes when several factors gel. Apart from the obvious ones, flavour, ingredients, skill of the chef, I reckon the circumstances around the meal play a big part. Degree of ‘hungriness’, atmosphere, who you are with, mood, expectation, service and a whole host of ‘soft’ issues. With this in mind you may find some of my choices a little surprising. But here goes in no particular order.

10) I love fish and chips. the best I had this year was sat on my own in the sunshine in Albert Square Manchester. It was served in a cardboard tray by The Hip Hop Chip Shop as part of the Manchester Food Festival. Simply superb with lovely skin on chips and chillied onion ring. But a special mention should go to The Elephant 1934 and the Arnside chippy who both came a close second.

Great fish and chips
Great fish and chips

9) I love seafood and pasta. I had no better of both at Salvis in Manchester. Seafood tagliatelle. Stunning.

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8) I love brunch. Seems to have become very popular this year. I had no finer than at Beef and Pudding. A vast helping for £9.95. The Flames Egg Benedict equally good.

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7) I have a raging sweet tooth. Always save my second sweet stomach for afters! Had an amazing marmalade and ginger cheesecake, served in a kilner jar whilst sat by the Thames in London on a glorious summers eve. The Tied End Cottage Pub, Teddington. Incredible. The warm peach tart at The Assheton Arms deserves a mention though.

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6) Love my ‘dirty’ street food. Mumma Schnitzel set up an obligatory Citroen H van in Spinningfields, Manchester (sadly now departed) and served up the finest chicken schnitzels known to man. A standard Friday lunch treat. Even better the ‘specials’. My favourite the ‘Hanoi Hanoi’. Thai flavours mingled in with a kick.

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5) On a similar theme, Twitter had served up frightening images of the Solita Christmas Burger. I was hooked. All expectations were met (apart from the candied chipolata on top). Christmas dinner in a bun.

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4) Love a pie,  I regularly buy Great North Pie Co versions, but had a couple of beauties outside this year. After a six hour drive and starving, I think The Church Green, Lymm, chicken and root veg just shades The Roebucks mutton pie. Nags Head did an amazing chicken leg and ham one too.

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3) Went to Mughli on the curry mile in Rusholme, Manchester for the first time this year. Had their signature seafood biryani. Superb.

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2) Went to Sicily this year for the hols. Fish is big there. Had a great big dorado served on a platter with potatoes, veg and gravy at ‘La Grotta Azzurra’ in Toamina. Served at the table. Awesome.

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1) Anything at The Pig On The Beach Hotel. Went for a week for our 25th wedding anniversary. All ingredients grown or caught within a couple of miles. I had a slab of turbot caught that morning. Chef told me in the day that it was coming. It doesn’t get fresher than that.

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So there you have it, the top ten. Like I said though, there are hundreds of number elevens. Well done chefs a great year. Lets see what we can have in 2015.

The Old Sessions House – Knutsford

“Looks like all these NewMoon Pubs are worth a go”

Whilst I love going to top restaurants as much as the next man it’s not always the best option. You generally need plenty of readies, have to get ponced up and you’re limited as to where you go afterwards. I along with The Flame like nothing better than combining a nice meal out with a good walk or a day out somewhere. Sunday is a big day in our house and last week was no exception

The smart exterior! Thanks to Plog for the bottom pic
The smart exterior! Thanks to Plog for the bottom pic

A bright, crisp autumn morn set the scene before a twenty minute scoot to the food and living fair at Tatton Park in Knutsford (pronounced ‘Nats fiord’!). Knutsford is a beautiful, picturesque town set in the heart of Cheshire, it’s proper HS2 bashing territory, Range Rovers prowl the narrow streets, stealthily breezing past the boutiques, wine bars, gallery’s and swanky hairdressers.

Tatton Park

Tatton Park

Sat bristling at the head of Princess Street is ‘The Old Sessions House’. It forms one of the fleet of hostelries serving food set up by Paul Newman and Dave Mooney (NewMoon – geddit?). It’s a wonderful old building and in keeping with the brand and high quality visuals it is distinctive and inviting. Dark grey with white contrasting decals set behind a phalanx of red flowers. After our leisurely hour and a half stroll round the equally wonderful Tatton Park we were proper gasping and hunger pains were setting in.

Some interior fittings
Some interior fittings, Mooney hard at the pass

We had thoughtfully pre booked for a two thirty kick off but arrived an hour early. Thankfully an efficient chap greeted us and paved a way towards the back of the packed house and sat us at a table in the conservatory towards the rear of the dining area. He stated that Ro (short for Rochina, decked out in the black ‘TOSH’ T shirt) would be handling all our needs. It was a little warm at first but a pint of ‘Old Sessions’ (a special brewed just for them) soon cooled things down. It was good to see the mustachioed (Moon) half of the partnership handling what was starting to be a busy pass.

As it was Sunday our order was culled from the simple three courses for £14.95 side of the binge. However, it was comforting to know we could have ordered from the ‘classic’, printed, place setting menu that we have seen before at sister gaff ‘Beef and Pudding’ in Manchester (reviewed here). Well cooked, quality, local ingredients is the mainstay of the offer.

Mackerel, venison terrine, menu
Mackerel, venison terrine, menu

First up The Flame rattled in a spot of smoked mackerel with a refreshing potato salad and a sheath of fresh leaves. So we could go ‘halvey halveys’ I had the venison terrine. Both dishes, simple, well presented and super tasty. Just as you need it.

Sunday roast, beef and chicken
Sunday roast, beef and chicken

We both had a Sunday roast. The flame, half a small Cheshire chicken, me a few slabs of Cheshire beef, cooked pink as requested. Whilst full of flavour the chicken was a bit dry in parts but my beef was as good as I’ve had. Covering the trimmings it went down a treat with a good dollop of horseradish.

Cheese, atrium roof, menu, banoffee sundae
Cheese, atrium roof, menu, banoffee sundae

Mindful of the three course deal The flame finished with the cheese and biscuits whilst I fell for the banoffee sundae. Set in a small tumbler it didn’t look much, but blimey it was good. Lumps of sticky toffee pudding, caramel, bananas and cream. A perfect bit of sweetness to tingle the palate, super.

We like to seek out quality eateries and I think along with Nigel Haworth’s RVI pub chain in Lancashire, I reckon the NewMoon portfolio is building very nicely to become arguably the best set further south. Check them out. We will.

The Old Sessions House
43 Princess Street
Knutsford
WA16 6BW
01565 621 833

http://www.oldsessionshouse.co.uk

http://www.newmoonpub.co.uk

 

Beef and Pudding – Manchester

“No puddings were harmed in the making of this blog”.

I had to start with this, ever since the twitteratti declared ‘Beef and Pudding’ as the hot ticket in town images of the now infamous ‘Beef and Barbon Fell venison suet pudding’ have graced the timelines of foodies far and wide. And all for good reason, as many have declared it a splendid thing.

The post box!!
The post box!!

I know as blogs go for Beef and Pudding I’m a bit late really. It has been open for a few weeks now. The reviews have been flowing from the ether ever since. Whilst I work in Manchester, getting the planets to align sufficiently to waft the flame into the metrop and indulge in the latest of the New Moon Company pubs has proved more problematic than first envisaged.

However, before finally sitting to eat, I was able to ghost in one Friday Eve to sample the atmosphere and a corking pint of Cheshire ale. During this stop over I happened upon genial host and joint owner David Mooney (or @Gobbychef as he is known on twitter). Stout of build with a luscious top lip he reminded me of a defrocked version of the fabled, comedic, letch Jimmy Edwards (ooh he won’t like that – Ed). My reward for this chance meet was a small insight into what makes ‘Beef and Pudding’ tick.

Joint owner David Mooney, comedy teacher Jimmy Edwards, the sign!
Joint owner David Mooney, comedy teacher Jimmy Edwards, the sign!

First point was that social media had the saved the twosome (he and joint owner Paul Newman) a small fortune in marketing. Basically twitter alone had ensured the venture hit it’s stride from day one and that the budget sheets had been ripped up, as the 150-200 covers a day had smashed predictions and left the two chaps very happy.

To be fair it’s easy to see why. Ever since the menu was released prior to opening my lips have been smacking. It is a cracking menu and unlike any other. There literally is something for everyone. Even Auntie Nell (her with the bad flatulance and distaste of anything green) would have no trouble finding anything on here. Traditional British classics mix with quality local dishes all done with aplomb.

The awesome menu
The awesome menu

The interior kit out for me is a revelation. As Jimmy errr I mean David pointed out, they take pictures of what they see as a good idea and keep it holed up ready to unleash on the public in their next venture. The large metal lights over the bar being a case in point. Sadly they were beaten to the industrial scaffolding divider by Reds BBQ, which meant a quick redesign, but it was all taken in good heart. The tan coloured booths and the tiled bull motif are a particular triumph. I did ask whether they’d had the post box installed outside, but apparently that was already there. It features on everyone’s outdoor pictures!

The inside, and reflected logo in a taxi window
The inside, and reflected logo in a taxi window

But, I’m wittering on a bit here what about the grub I hear you cry. Well it was great, it met all expectations. For starters I had the ‘tempura monkfish cheeks’ (£8.95) which came with a glorious tandoori mayo and a homemade lime pickle. The flame romped in with a seared chicken, smoked bacon and avocado salad (£7.95) It was plentiful, colourful and very tasty. Even I got to try some chicken!

Monkfish cheeks, chicken salad, strawberry and vanilla fizz
Monkfish cheeks, chicken salad, strawberry and vanilla fizz

Despite the amazing menu believe it or not we both plundered our mains from the specials iPad! For mains the flame had two wonderful pieces of hake (£16.95) which came aboard green beans, new potatoes and then smothered in local brown shrimp. It was devine, perfectly cooked and hot.
I had a wondrous, trimmed rack of pink local lamb (£16.95). Bathed in a deep jus and nestled on potatoes and green beans. I love lamb and loved this. The meat needed the merest tease to lift it away from its bony frame.

Hake and lamb
Hake and lamb

And then there was the pudding! Or ‘The Pudding Plank’ (£14.95) which is what we had. This is basically as it says on the tin. It is a plank with pudding on. In a ‘frenchy’ bistro it might be known as an ‘assiette’, the plank is used to present hefty slivers of most of the standard dessert offerings. We got a cheese glazed Eccles cake, a banoffee cheesecake, a sticky toffee pudding, a chocolate tart, a chocolate brownie and star of the show a cherry bakewell pie. All this shared with a quenelle of cream and a goblet of luscious custard. It was a true sweet treat. We signed off with a decent coffee.

The Pudding Plank
The Pudding Plank

One of the objectives of ‘the beef’ explained by @gobbychef was to launch an outfit on the Manchester scene that served decent ale, decent wine, decent cocktails and great locally produced food. It seems to have carried it off. Im not a great afficianado of the grape but we had a rather agreeable gourmet Shiraz at £16.95 all after a couple of sizzling cocktails. The whole shebang came in at £107 which for an ‘urban pub’ is on the top end. That said we had the dearest items on the menu and wouldn’t normally have the cocktails so I reckon you could knock thirty or forty quid off that if you were concerned.

Wine, even the gents are nice, desert menu
Wine, even the gents are nice, desert menu

If we was to quibble we could argue about our table. As the late Michael Winner would say “he books a table not a restaurant” and ours placed by the meet and greet station at the entrance presented for the flame a constant view of the maître d’s and servers typing in the orders which she found a little distracting. Nonetheless we will definitely be back but we will be asking for one of those wonderful booths facing into the eating room where all the action is. This is a great addition to the Manchester restaurant wars. It’s great for a drink and as well as dinner serves food for breakfast, brunch and an express lunch. You can’t say fairer than that.
Beef and Pudding
0161 237 3733

info@beefandpudding.co.uk

37 Booth Street
off Fountain Street
Manchester City Centre
M2 4AA