Tag Archives: crab

Randall and Aubin – Manchester

“Another London restaurant gives Manchester a try. This one can stay for me. Probably the best seafood in town?”

Twenty-eight years of marriage, where do you go to celebrate that? Well, I chose ‘Randall and Aubin,’ latest addition to the Spinningfield end of good old Manchester town. I love seafood and I just fancied some. Thankfully The Flame doesn’t mind fish either! We were on. Couple of pre meal cocktails around town before sauntering along Bridge Street to the good old R&A. Looks good from outside. Two ‘Parisienne’ awnings with ornate script set it apart. I fully lit, street facing flash of seafood on a bed of ice, add a decadent touch.


We enter the long narrow room. A seated bar to the left, our coats are wafted behind a screen by front of house to the right. We feel very welcome. We are escorted to table 86. The initial excitement dips. The tiny round table is set hard against the wall. We feel hemmed in. Our next table of two, merely inches away, bask in acres of space. We mention this to Zak, our excellent waiter. Within minutes a nearby table, twice the size, swept down one side with banquette seating is cleaned and prepped. Immediately our enthusiasm is back up to ten and climbing. Bottle of ‘Mad Fish’ Sauvignon Blanc (£35)! Corked (well unscrewed) and cooling. Six plump, french oysters arranged neatly on a wire heightened platter (£15). We slurped our entree while taking in the fine ambience.

IMG_1808The idea, one presumes, is that you imagine you’ve been whisked to an elegant Parisienne Brasserie on the Champs Elysee? It works to an extent, reminded me a bit of the old ‘Cafe Rouges’ though. ‘Moulin Rouge’ mirrors and velvet curtains abound. The exposed ‘air-con’ ironmongery on the ceiling detracts slightly, but I’m quibbling.

Whilst fish and seafood is the main intent, and what we came for, the menu boats a collection of fine rotisserie meats too. The menu is extensive, a quid or two up compared to some others in town, but it is indeed a fine offer. I started up with the New England clam & bacon chowder with fresh corn bread (£5.50). A hearty meal in itself, robust flavours, loads of clams in a creamy broth. Utterly wonderful. The Flame went for the R&A crab cakes with lime mayonnaise, watercress & radish salad (a fairly hefty £9.85). Again rather good. I was allowed half of one!


For mains I went for ‘full faff’ whole, cracked, brown crab mayonnaise with R&A potato salad (£19.85). The ready dressed ‘low faff’ Dorset crab with R&A potato salad is £2 cheaper! Have to say it was sensational. Struggling to recall a better crab, good size too, but the potato salad is worth a mention. Piquant and tasty, perfect accompaniment to the main event. Thankfully, The Flame was perfectly happy catching up on Facebook whilst I cracked and crunched my way through this king of crustaceans!


The Flame had the Grilled line-caught tuna with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, feta cheese & an olive oil oregano tapenade (£19.85). A thick steak of tuna, cooked perfectly pink on a colourful bed of aubergine, peppers and onions.


By now we were stuffed, but couldn’t resist a sweet finish. The desserts, Sticky Date Pudding – with vanilla ice cream & caramel sauce and my Baked Vanilla Cheesecake – with caramel & salted caramel ice cream (both £8 each), both homemade were perfectly decent, but by then we were a bit over faced, especially after our rather splendid anniversary ice cream, presented by young Zak.


The bill romped in at a fairly hefty £135 including a 12.5% discretionary tip. But as we know, seafood in particular exerts a premium. Have to say this though, despite our initial hiccup with the table we thoroughly enjoyed our time here. The service was bright, attentive and knowledgable. TV chef Ed Baines is behind the R&A. The original is in Soho in London. I hope his selection of Bridge Street in Manchester as the next foray works out. We’ll definitely be back. This could well turn out to be one of our favourites places, watch this space……

Randall & Aubin Manchester
64 Bridge Street,
M3 3BN
Tel: +44 (0) 161 7111 007
Email: mcr@randallandaubin.com

Baked Crab – Sophie Michell

I absolutely love crab. Ive often dreamed that if I was on Saturday Kitchen then crab would be my heaven (beetroot my hell)! Whenever we go on holiday to the coast I live on crab sandwiches, it’s the law. So when watching a hidden away programme on Channel 4 called ‘Meet What You Eat,’ I was blown away by this dish, which was beautifully demonstrated by the rather striking and talented chef Sophie Michell. The ingredients and method below are from the show with small tweaks by me.


Ive included some images of the prep, which included disembowelling said crab and extracting the luscious bounty within. My crab although a fairly decent size (from the wonderful Lanigans in Lytham St Annes) was only 750g so I halved the ingredients listed.


1.5 kg crab, cooked and prepped (to make 250g white crab meat and 100g of brown meat approximately). Like I mentioned In had  750g crab.
1 tbsp of clarified butter
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1tbsp diced red chilli
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp celery salt (I didn’t have any!)
½ tsp of Espelette pepper (I used normal black pepper!)
½ tsp dried oregano
½ smoked paprika
Zest of 2 limes
1 tbsp fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
1 handful of dried breadcrumbs (preferably panko)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons of hollandaise
1 tsp jalapeño hot sauce (I just used diced, from a jar)
1 tsp diced jalapeños


Remove the legs off the crab. They simply twist off. With the body upright and the shell towards you, prize the centre of the crab away from its shell with your thumbs. Takes a bit of effort. Remove the ‘dead mans fingers’ from the body. These are the tentacle like protrusions about an inch and half long.

imageKeep the main body shell for presentation purposes. Flick the oven on to 180 deg C.

Scoop out all the meat from inside the shell and place in a bowl. Scrape off the meat from the head you’ve extracted. Then break the claws with the back of a large knife and with a skewer scrape out the chunks of flesh (this is the main bit, don’t throw these away)!. Repeat with the legs (messy but worth doing).


Fry the onions, chilli and garlic in the butter, along with the paprika and oregano for a couple of minutes.

Then add the crab, zest, parsley and seasoning. Give it all a stir. Finally mix in the zest, breadcrumbs and egg yolk and give it another stir.

Spoon all the meat from the pan back into the shell pressing it fully in as you go. I then mixed the hollandaise with the jalapenos and topped the crab with it.

Pop in the oven and bake for 4 minutes. Serve with toasted bread and lime wedges. I served it with a bit of poncey garnish and some lovely, buttered granary bread.


I now have the confidence to dress my own crab. Reckon I will do a cold one with mayo next for those ultimate crab sandwiches……

Thanks to the original recipe here by Sophie Michell.


Gusto – Manchester

We all like a bargain when we see one. January tends to shout out a few more than usual as an antidote to the ravenous Christmas binge. A mindful soul had the good sense to order seven place settings on a round table for a busy Friday lunch at the recently opened Gusto on Lloyd Street in Manchester. Ostensibly Italian, we pre-booked on a deal. If you book during January for slots outside the busy weekend, you bag your grub for half price. As it is set approximately thirty paces from the office it was the work of a moment to get down there. Good job really as it was absolutely tipping down!


It’s an impressive place. An understated entrance from the street gives way to elegance personified. A grandiose, central, square canopy delineates the bar area. Padded stools line up all round in readiness for the cocktail crowd. Our table was up on a side mezzanine which was filling up nicely with business clients and lunching ladies. Chairs in orange and green with matching dark wood tables, crisp linen and sparkling tableware sets the scene. We settled whilst a bright, uniformed, smiling waitress brought us a sobering dash of water and the odd ‘full cooking’ coke. The days of a long, lazy, boozy lunch are sadly long gone for us flashing young interior types!

Smart interior
Smart interior

As an added point of interest we were sat next to a roped off bit. Inside a clearly talented young cove was delicately touching up some cobbles with a long brush. He was quietly fettling the ‘Coronation Street’ section of a huge Manchester scape that was morphing before our eyes. It was only in sketch form with a few splashes of colour, but it will be an impressive adornment to the Gusto legacy sometime soon.

The mural coming along
The mural coming along

We were presented with two menus, the specials and the a la carte. It was sometime before we ordered food and as it was a quick lunch we all simply ordered a main course each with the odd side from the a la carte which is the one that attracted the discount. As the crowds were gathering for the bargain lunch, it was a fairly lengthy stretch before the goodies arrived. But boy they were goodies. Everyone was pleased with their offer.

The menu
The menu

Pick of the bunch was Dom’s seared tuna steak marinated in balsamic and soy with a fennel and orange salad and green gazpacho (£18.95). Cooked to perfection, a rare centre with a seared outer.

Salad, tuna, toilet floor!!
Salad, tuna, toilet floor!!

Paul’s Baked fillet of seabass (£17.95) with roasted pepperonata, drizzled with lemon purée looked a picture as did Mel’s salad of home-cured salmon, shaved fennel, orange, radish and radicchio with a crème fraiche dressing (£10.95). They all hit the mark. I myself (as a crab addict) had the white crab, chilli, garlic and fresh lemon spaghetti (£15.95).

Crab chilli spaghetti, seabass
Crab chilli spaghetti, seabass

We all concluded that it was a fine feed and a stunning location. Once we’d finished taking pictures of the interior! we coppered up and went on our way. Including a take out there was eight of us. With the 50% deal in place the bill came to £70. Less than a tenner each. Given the surroundings and the quality I would have happily paid the full price. Give it a try.



4 Lloyd Street
(off Deansgate)
M2 5AB

T: 0161 832 2866

Parkers Arms – Newton in Bowland – Part 2

I can’t believe it, the latest trip to the Parkers Arms was even better than last time shock! 
The Flame and myself enjoyed a wonderful Sunday lunch a few months back. When faced with where to meet a couple of Yorkshire foodies I made the call to get them into the heart of Lancashire with the promise of some top home cooking. So no pressure then! I needn’t have worried. Suffice to say Stosie, AJ and the team turned up trumps once again.
We met in Clitheroe for a stroll round the old town. During the time there I was constantly pressed and niggled that lunch better be good. We wound up through the pretty village of Waddington and over the moors before the now familiar sight of The Parkers Arms hove into view. I had booked online for four. We were shown straight to our bay window table by a young, fresh faced slip of a lass. Our table groaned by a simmering log fire. Candles flickered. Two pints of ‘Hen Harrier’ ensured the male half of the scheme were bang in fettle. Wine and water put the other half at ease. Starting to feel at home it was left to AJ, the genial host, to put our slippers on and order our grub. 
Just to explain AJ is the front of house part of the trio that make the Parkers Arms what it is. Stosie and Katie head up the foodie bit. It is a winning team. AJ, spectacled, with a full shock of curly locks, ‘Wallace & gromit’ cardie/cordrouy trousers and broad Lancashire brogue is arguably the friendliest and most eccentric host you’ll ever meet. His explanations of the wares on offer are a delight and had our guests chuckling like new born babies. He convinced our guest Julie to have the pheasant as ‘you can have beef anytime’.
We had three menus to go at! The Sunday special, the seasonal specials and the normal menu. It all adds up to a wonderful Lancashire feast. We pretty much all went from the seasonal menu. 
The Flame had a wonderful slab of game terrine. I have never been allowed to taste a finer one. The Yorkshire cove wolfed into a three cheese soufflé with a cheese sauce. It was proper cheesy. The Yorkshire cove considered it highly beneficial to his overall wellbeing. Me and the Yorkshire lass had probably the smoothest, crabbiest, crab parfait you will ever imagine. It was sublime.
Mains were a revelation. Between us we had either pheasant or venison and pork pie.
The pheasant came two ways. The breast had been rolled into a ballotine whilst the leg was encased in a pasty pastry. Set on seasonal veg with a creamy, buttery mash. I would argue this was the best dish I have had in years. It ticked all my boxes. My morsel of venison pie was gorgeous. The cove and the flame went away very happy with their pasty. It looked good as well with the hot, rail sleeper chips on a slim plate.
Despite being satiated we decided (for research purposes) to have a go at a sweet! Going back to my childhood I ventured into a plate full of Victoria plum sponge pudding with custard and cream. Took some doing but golly it was good. The flame plumbed into Katie’s wet Nellie. Fruit, mince, nuts, treacle, it just has to be good.
It really was a tremendous meal. Great company in a fabulous environment. Sat overlooking the countryside from our fireside table was a delight. What we really needed was a room so we could have stayed! A couple of cigars and a brandy might have worked as well but we had to drive away into the evening chill. I can imagine with snow on the hills and the Christmas tree lights on it would make the perfect Christmas card.
Our Yorkshire troop texted later that it was the best meal they had in years and thanked us for taking them there. They will definitely be back. And so will we. And so should you all.
Parkers Arms
Nr Clitheroe
01200 446236