Tag Archives: goosnargh.

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

The Nags Head at Haughton

“Another quality addition to Nigel Haworth’s Ribble Valley Pub Chain”

I’ve always had a soft spot for the RVI pubs. Ever since The flame treated me to an overnight sesh at Northcote Manor we have kept a keen eye on developments of the Northcote offshoots. There are five now. From “The Three Fishes”, reviewed previously here to “The Bull at Broughton”. The original four are dotted up North in the bowels of Lancashire (although one strays close to Yorkshire!). The Nags Head at Haughton is the first excursion into deepest Cheshire. And blimey it is an excursion as well. It was labelled as Tarpoley, but it seems a fair few more miles before you hit Haughton. Mind you it’s a handsome sight as the sat nav informs you that you have finally made it.

Quintessential Country Pub
Quintessential Country Pub

This is what the term “quintessential rural country pub” was invented for. A soft timbered, red tiled dwelling surrounded by greenery and gravel. A vast outdoor seating area dominates to the right as you enter. The weather was a little mixed when The Flame and I rocked up. I could imagine on a barmy summers eve the garden could be a thriving village with its own name! It was a wet Sunday Lunch when we turned in. We had booked a table for two at two on the efficient website. It’s only been open a few months, I reckon the place was half full, but by the time we left it had swelled considerably. A good sign.

Spot The Dead parrot! Nice plumage.

Spot The Dead parrot! Nice plumage.

It’s fairly clear some serious wedge has left the wallet of the RVI encumbents. A substantial, mock tudor hangar has been grafted on to the original modest dwelling. Some of the timbers looked real! The decor and fittings are all top notch. The colour scheme and material selection is exactly how you would never do it at home, but somehow it works. A complete mismatch of materials, colours and patterns, fused by the dominance of petrol blue and cream. I even think there was a dead parrot on one of the fabrics. It had nice plumage anyway. The tables and chairs are smart, contemporary, comfortable and well sized for the job in hand.

More Interior design

More Interior design

So what about the grub. Well as I say it was a Sunday lunch menu, printed neatly black on white. I’ve don’t recall a bad course at an RVI. The closest I’ve been was probably here for my starter. Pigeon, black pudding Kiev, with pickled carrot and a few other bits and pieces. The expectant ooze of buttery garlic failed to materialise. I was left with a rather dry fork of gamey flesh. It was marginally moistened and enhanced when matched with a morsel of soused carrot. It was fairly good but no where near as good as The Flames’ chargrilled sardines on sourdough toast and a rafagado sauce. Thankfully the flame quickly realised this was a significant portion and slapped a quarter of the feast on to my plate. Blimey this was good, real quality. Thoroughly enjoyed.

Sardines, the brew, drinks, pigeon kiev

Sardines, the brew, drinks, pigeon kiev

For mains the flame again came up trumps. A staggering goosnargh chicken leg and ham pie with peas, beans and lettuce. Served with an element of drama it came with the leg bone protruding through the top. It looked superb and when opened up it looked even better. Plenty of salty ham, clung together with a hint of tarragon cream. It was delish. The flame complained of a soggy bottom but I told her to carry on with the exercises, I’m sure it will tighten up (she meant the pie! – Ed). Again such was the portion size that I managed a few fork fulls. A truly handsome plate of food.

Amazing chicken ham pie, a decent hake and chips

Amazing chicken ham pie, a decent hake and chips

I played too safe. Battered Hake and real dripping cooked chips, homemade tartare sauce and crushed garden peas. Beautifully cooked and presented it tasted great as expected, but I must admit I had an envious glance at the next table who had the Sunday roast. Some corking slabs of aged Angus rump. That really did look well. They even took a photo of it. How sad is that? I’ll be back for some of that.

Handsome bar, fancy toilet tiles!

Handsome bar, fancy toilet tiles!

For research purposes I had a chocolate sundae, largely to try the ice cream from Ginger Comforts. It was rather splendid and finished off a fine meal.

Chocolate Sundae, menu, gun table

Chocolate Sundae, menu, gun table

So there you have it. Nigel and the Ribble Valley Inn chain have moved south and into Cheshire. The Sunday lunch cost £21 for the three courses. A couple of quid over some I suppose but getting your ingredients from local artisans such as the Cheshire Smokehouse don’t come cheap. Let’s hope it’s the first of a few more. It’s a bit of a trek for some but I think it’s worth it. Recommended.


The Nag’s Head

Long Lane,

Haughton Moss,

Near Tarporley,




01829 260265



The Perfect Duck Breast !

The perfect duck breast has proven a little illusive for me but I’ve just tried this one out. It was by A McKenna (@goosnargh_duck) who specialise in raising corn fed chickens and goosnargh ducks. I managed to bag a couple of plump, Goosnargh duck breasts from them at the Artisan food market in Wilmslow, Cheshire. The flame and I are quite partial to a plump breast and it’s always a help when said proprietor hands over a neat, witty cooking instruction to help you on the way.

photo 1
The finished dish on puy lentils

I have replicated the text almost word for word. There might be the odd gag thrown in!

Serves 4

1-  Take four duck breasts, don’t trim them (I always used to!), lay them flesh side down on a board.
2 – Get a sharp knife and score the skin all the way through to the flesh, don’t cut the flesh, just let the blade touch the flesh. The big thing here is to make sure you score all the way to the edge of the breast so that as the skin shrinks during cooking it doesn’t pull the flesh and make it tough.
3 – Season the skin (only the skin side it says here) with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4 – Take a solid, heavy frying pan and turn the heat to three quarters on your hob to get it going. Lay the duck skin side down in the cold pan, put the pan on the heat and turn down to about half. I have an induction hob so I did on 6 (out of 9).

photo 2
Scored, skin side down, turned over and rest

5 – Now it says, “Do Not Touch Anything, do not move the pan, don’t even think about it”. Apparently what is going to happen over the next ten minutes is that the fat under the skin will slowly melt and the skin will go brown and crispy.
6 – when the skin starts to colour around the outside you are ready to move on. This should take about 7 minutes. The pan will have a good 1cm of duck fat in it and all of the duck fat will have melted.
7 – now season the flesh side (not before it insists), then turn the duck breasts over and cook for two minutes. Then increase the temperature to full for a further 1 minute.
8 – take the pan off the heat and leave the breasts in the pan for 5 minutes while you prepare your side dishes.
9 – then slice. It will then be very sexy indeed. See pics for proof!!

You can keep the rendered duck fat for cooking roasties. Four duck breasts will produce about 200ml of fat.
I served my duck on a bed of mustard flavoured puy lentils.

Thanks to A McKenna of Goosnargh Duck twitter @goosnargh_duck
The artisan market operates in Cheshire most Sundays through the year visit http://www.theartisanmarket.co.uk