Tag Archives: scallops

Sams Chophouse – Manchester

“Proper old school, city centre ‘gastropub’ for some proper old school lads!”

The Cooktwit was tasked with scheming a small gathering for some old work chums and “None of that fancy gastro stuff you like” cried Joe, a surprisingly trim sexagenarian (he’ll like that – Ed). So where do I go? It didn’t take long to work out that Sam’s Chophouse would meet the brief. A thoroughly decent British menu, representing its rich history of feeding Mancunians since City last won the league. (What they won the season before last? – yes, you can’t say that now – Ed). Well anyway Sam’s has been around since 1872.

Elegance (and that's just the lads)
Elegance (and that’s just the lads)

Its set up a ginnel, which itself is shrouded from the world by tram works. It takes some finding at the moment. It’s a grand place. You enter down a small staircase in to an old, wooden bar area. A seated bronze of LS Lowry doffs his hat. A pleasant welcome. A few pints of Bootleg ‘Lawless’ for the non-drivers was eagerly devoured. It was early on a Tuesday night. I had booked but didn’t really need to. The pub had a few in, but the restaurant was empty. The eating area is rather elegant. Mosaic tiles on the floor, with rich stained booths and fittings completing the old world charm. It’s very pleasant, though it was a little chilly at first.

The menu
The menu

Tom, our young, spectacled waiter soon had us settled and placed the leather-bound offer into our sticky mits. As I said the menu is littered with classic, British fayre. Joe was well impressed.
We ordered up. Kevin and Joe went for the corned beef hash (£7). It came deep fried with a poached egg and brown sauce. What a delight this was. Probably dish of the night. I wish I had ordered it. You can get a mammoth portion as a main for £13. The lads loved it. I managed a fork full of Joes and can confirm the ‘wonderfulness’. Johnny boy went for seared scallops with pulled pork scampi, salsify and apple (£9) for some reason I didn’t get a pic. I think John wolfed it before I got chance! It looked good though.

Corned beef hash and duck hearts
Corned beef hash and duck hearts

I had devilled duck hearts in paprika cream on sour dough bread (£6.50). To be fair this was pretty good too. I’ve never had duck hearts but you got plenty and their livery texture worked a treat with the creamy, spicy sauce. A real treat.

For mains, the heartier side of the brigade were swayed by the steak and kidney pudding (£14). A substantial case of suet filled to the brim with braised steak and lumps of kidney. A boat of light brown gravy turned up with an array of well turned out chips and mushy peas Im sad to say that both contenders referred to the offer being a bit on the dry side, despite the lubrication afforderd by the gravy. Kevin, not normally a chap to shirk on these matters, was visibly shaken as he was compelled to leave a good fifteen per cent of the pudding to the dishwasher. So moved was he by the dryness and the quantity. For the record I had a slug of kidney which I found to be perfectly fine.

Steak & kidney pud, burger, fish and chips
Steak & kidney pud, burger, fish and chips

I myself had the standard, but nonetheless rather creditable, fish (beer battered haddock) and chips (£13). The aforementioned chips were well turned out, but the highlight, easily was the haddock. Wonderfully crisp batter, hot translucent flesh. It came cemented to the plate with the mushy peas along with a ramekin of tartar sauce and a net of lemon. Nice touch. Thoroughly enjoyed. As good a plate of fish and chips as I’ve ever had.

Equally boring (some might say) Joe had the burger off the bar menu. It didn’t have the slurpy spectacular look of the ‘experts’ that litter the town, but it was cooked pink and Joseph himself proclaimed it the best burger he’d ever had. High praise indeed. (I have took him to Solita before now).

The Eccles cake
The Eccles cake

Joe and myself then had the Eccles cake (£6.00) and ice cream for afters. It was a bit thicker and smaller in diameter than our preconceived version. But fair play it tasted good. Much ‘mincier’ and ‘spicier’ than I remember them. Good ice cream too. A tinge of regret that I didn’t go for the Black Forest trifle.

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For four it came to £134. Sam had already included the 10% service charge in that figure. We were a little surprised at this for a party of four. But happy to go with it. Young Tom had been a fine advocate for old school charm and looked after us well. He’d even laughed at Joes jokes. In summary a fine evening. Elements of superbly cooked food allied to a touch of minor disappointment. I will say this though, I’ll be back for a big portion of corned beef hash and a trifle sometime soon. Watch this space…..

Sams ChopHouse
Back Pool Fold off Cross Street
Manchester M2 1HN
0161 834 3210
http://www.samschophouse.com

The Cartford Inn – Little Eccleston, Poulton

“Yawn, another superb place to eat in Lancashire!”

Regular readers will know (what you have regulars? – Ed) that I have become acutely aware of the plethora of fine eateries in our very own ‘Northern Quarters’ of Lancashire. It was only a few weeks ago we sampled the wonders of Freemasons at Wiswell (see here). This fine bank holiday Monday it was a quick tour into the fair county of Fylde to witness the highly acclaimed ‘The Cartford Inn’.

image Continue reading The Cartford Inn – Little Eccleston, Poulton

Hawksmoor – Manchester

“It would seem all the hype was right, a simple menu done extremely well”

The grand exterior
The grand exterior

It was The Cooktwit birthday, mid-July as always. My aim was to hit two Manchester biggies! An afternoon with the boys yielded a long sought after sortie to Iberica. That was brilliant. For the big day itself though, The Flame treated me to my other ‘on the list’ eatery ‘Hawksmoor’. It was heralded by many as Manchester’s most eagerly awaited restaurant opening. Its original London based versions are still lauded as places to be. Lots have been written about this Manchester version. I doubt I can add too much, but I’ll try!

The pass, the gleeful bar staff
The pass, the gleeful bar staff

It’s a grand space. Housed in an, old, former, Victorian courthouse on Deansgate. The grandeur is replicated within. Mahogany panels and leather seating defines the look. You enter the dining area via the bar and the spectacular pass. The gentlemen’s club persona continues. One could easily imagine Bertie Wooster treating Gus Finknottle to a snifter and a scotch egg whilst Jeeves* waits outside with the umbrella. Our Jeeves operated indoors by the name of Alex. Wearing a spectacular beard he sat down and explained in perfect detail as to how best to negotiate the evening ahead.

The dining room
The dining room

A Buxton IPA was his first recommendation. Needless to say that worked. He then led both The Flame and I through the card before delivering a stunning, three course meal. It’s a fairly simple menu. Meat or fish with all the trimmings. The only complication is working out whether to buy your steak by weight (about 10 pence per gram!) or as an individual cut and which sides to add.

For starts I had the scallops. Four massive roasted scallops, scalded to their shell with a crumb and tarragon, garlic butter. They cost £14 mind but blimey what a start. They were plump and delicious. The flame had the smoked salmon and soda bread (£9). Again, simple quality.

Bream in a bag, scallops, ribeye
Bream in a bag, scallops, ribeye

For mains we went for the royal sea bream with rosemary, garlic and chilli (£18). It came whole ‘en papillote’ with sweet potato side and buttered greens (£3.50 each). Cooked to perfection, the flame stripped it bare in no time. I went for a medium/rare rib eye steak (£26) with triple cooked chips (£4) and an anchovy hollandaise sauce. Hawksmoor is renowned for its steaks. It was easy to understand why. I’m struggling to recall a better steak. I’m not sure I’ve had one, it was off the scale tender. A word about the side. Chips for me nowadays are a rare treat. In the words of Michael Winner these were ‘historic’. A mild crunch outside with a soft centre, pure bliss. It’s worth coming here for these!

As ever desserts were called for. The flame opted for a very neat cheese selection (£10) complete with Apple and walnuts, whilst I went old school with a sticky toffee pudding and ice cream (£7.50). Both great.

The puds
The puds

If you’ve been adding up whilst you read, you may have noticed the cost was racking up! The bill came in at £121. Now that’s quite a lot. If you reckon on £80 for a good ‘gastropub’ equivalent you are looking at a good thirty percent more here. Is it worth it?…..I reckon so. We both thought it was a superb meal. Everything, as you would expect, was presented piping hot, cooked to perfection. Service was impeccable. Atmosphere in the grand room was electric as the punters gradually filtered in. A simple menu, all done remarkably well. If you like good honest grub, it can’t really be beaten. Book in as soon as you can. Don’t wait as long as we did……

HAWKSMOOR MANCHESTER
186 DEANSGATE,
MANCHESTER M3 3WB
0161 836 6980

http://www.thehawksmoor.com

*Anyone under thirty google PG Wodehouse!