Monday, 1 September 2014

Cane and Grain, Manchester

We visited Cane & Grain, a new rib joint in the Northern Quarter, during its opening weekend where they offered 50% off food. Specialising in ribs we were famished and ordered a selection to share including slabs of St Louis and Memphis style spare ribs. After recently visiting Big Easy in London for their St Louis ribs these were in contrast a disappointment. The ribs appeared to be rather small with a lack of meat and were a bit dry. Out of the two the Memphis ribs had the edge for flavouring.



I was disappointed that they had run out of the beef short rib so went for the dino rib to satisfy my beefy cravings. The dino rib was absolutely humongous when it arrived at the table, sitting in the middle as the centrepiece. The dino rib comes from the short loin and is cut with a lot of meat left on the bone, just as well given the lack of meat from the pork ribs. The rib was well smoked and the meat was tender and cut off the bone with ease. It was fun eating the mammoth meat off the bone although a little awkward as by the time we had gotten through all of it it had gone cold and was quite tough.


All ribs come with house fries which were pretty standard. We also ordered sides of truffle mac n cheese and Carolina slaw. The sauces available are quite fun, especially the Vimto and Dr Pepper. The food at Cane & Grain did not blow us away and some work is required to lift the pork ribs if that is to become their signature and calling card.




Cane and Grain on Urbanspoon

Friday, 29 August 2014

Albion, Crosby

Albion opened a few months ago in Crosby, a short drive North of the centre of Liverpool. It is the latest venture from Steven Burgess who also co-founded Camp & Furnace and helmed the kitchen and in the process lifted the citys food scene with inventive offerings and events. Friday Food Slams were a personal favourite for an informal drink and bite to eat along with special events attracting the likes of culinary heavyweights Glyn Purnell and Ben Spalding to the city in collaboration projects.

The menu at Albion is full of inventive dishes with elements in homage to historical English dishes as indicated by the year on the menu. Being loyal followers of Chefs food we were treated to a few snacks before our starters including pork dustings with a sticky gentleman’s relish dip, homemade crisps of beetroot, parsnip, potato and sage which be my ideal snack with a cold beer and beer bread cooked in hay with an English mustard butter.




For starters we chose Cumbrian mutton & treacle bacon turnover, cucumber chutney and a dish from the specials board of mackerel fillet, roasted plums, samphire and cucumber. The turnover was an enjoyable dish as was the mackerel although Mrs Nom thought the plums were slightly too sour.



The pricing at Albion is extremely competitive for the quality of food served up, with starters ranging from £4-£7 and mains from £12 - £15. We tried the roasted cod loin, Brancaster crab salad, summer vegetables and English mustard and slow braised beef shin, crispy potato, balmoral sauce and shredded bacon. The very well slow cooked beef shin was deceptive in its size and was well matched with the balmoral sauce, I soon hit the food wall, the crispy treats before the starters may have caused this!



The range of desserts all sounded heavy and after the amount of food we consumed didn’t sound so appealing but we had to try at least one so picked the ‘Poor Knights of Windsor’ with hot sherry jam and hokey pokey cinder toffee. The honeycomb was the highlight and melted and crunched in the mouth at the same time. 


On a repeat visit another day we were treated to a pre starter treat of Burford brown egg, black pudding, samphire and cucumber pickle. From the specials a starter of marmite glazed beef cheek, hot cheddar sauce and garden relishes starter was sensational and is my favourite dish from Albion so far. The glazed added a rich comforting texture and the cheek fell away as it flaked with ease under the slightest pressure from the fork.



Albion fish pie with crab, cod topped with Mrs Kirkham’s cheese mash, buttered peas & onions. A Yorkshire pudding side with veal gravy sounded lush but sadly was slightly dense, not that I could have fitted it in anyway.


Jam roly poly and school custard, a more sophisticated version of the classic from school days.


Albion has started life strongly and with endless passion from Chef who enjoys interacting with the punters listening to feedback without any ego, we can only see it going from strength to strength. Well thought out comforting food with presentation to match.



All paid for in full with the exception of the snacks which were kindly provided with compliments from Chef.

Albion on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Mr Cooper's House and Garden, Manchester

Mr Coopers at the Midland hotel is the embodiment of consistency, it is rare that we frequent the same place more than three times in a year due to the variety and speed of new openings to try. Each time we have visited there seems to be new dishes on the menu and the quality is retained for old favourites.

Our latest visit to Mr Coopers was for the Sunday lunch, a great deal at 3 courses for £19. The starter consisted of tomato and lentil soup, cucumber and spring onion salsa, Korean mint, packed full of flavour, this is my favourite soup of the year although I very rarely order soup.


Mrs Nom wanted to order from the a la carte and began with wild mushroom and onion marmalade tartlets, ricotta and rocket.


The main event was roast topside of Cumbrian beef, dripping potatoes, savoy cabbage, honey roasted carrots, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pudding and roast gravy. Quality beef with well-cooked and seasoned vegetables, just as a satisfying Sunday lunch should be.




Not wanting a full main Mrs Nom created her own surf and turf with a combination of two starters of raw beef with pickled paw paw, sweet tomato jam and toasted rye bread and hand dived glazed scallops with caper, hazelnut and shallots. The hazelnut with the scallops worked very well.



To finish we shared a honey flap jack, lemon posset and marinated strawberries.


In order unblogged visits we have tried dishes from the a la carte and set menus including the following dishes:

Nick’s meatballs with hyssop, baked apricots and tzatziki


Mussel chowder with leeks and bone marrow croutons


Cumbrian rib steak, truffle pudding and purple potato latkes


Malabar pilaf, lamb rumps, garlic, lemon and chilli


Braised pork shoulder, lentils, crispy cabbage and black pudding fritter


Mr Cooper's House and Garden on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Pollen Street Social, London

Pollen Street Social is the flagship of the Jason Atherton restaurant empire. Holding one Michelin star and ranked number 6 in the 2015 Good Food Guide with a score of 9 it can be safe to say the food here is pretty good.

We visited one recent Saturday afternoon and sampled the following:

Amuse bouche - mushroom consommé, goats cheese churros with truffle honey, black pudding croquette and black garlic cookie



Colchester crab salad, apple & coriander, black garlic, lemon puree, brown crab foam, sourdough crisps – a very fresh dish with simple flavours to complement the crab.


Buccleuch Estate steak tartare, smoked beetroot, wild leaves, berry pearls – sharp flavours which the beef stood up well to.


Hay smoked quail “brunch”, cereals, toast & tea. The quail arrived in a box and continued to smoke whilst the rest of the components were delivered, the toast and tea turned out to be brioche toast with liver mousse and quail Broth, the cereals were a crispy quail egg and crispy grains.





Roasted Cornish cod, English crayfish, summer vegetables, Scottish girolles


Cumbrian pork belly & cheek, Mrs Brown’s black pudding, Jersey royals, pink apple puree, new season ramps


Black Angus rib eye, duck fat chips, green salad – well-cooked medium rare but needed a little extra char on the outside.



One of the big unique points of Pollen Street Social is the dessert bar in the main dining room, the girls were excited by this and even more so when we moved to the bar for dessert.

A pre dessert of yogurt foam and strawberry soup was served to us to wet our appetites.


Granny Smith apple parfait, blueberry, shiso & eucalyptus


Chocolate marquise, praline, milk mousse, honey ice cream


The amount of effort in plating up is immense and that’s without seeing the prep of the components which must also be very labour intensive. The main kitchen also has a glass front allowing customers to view the workings of a top kitchen.


Just when we thought we were done we were offered some petit fours in the form of an ice cream cone, rose jelly, marshmallows and chocolate granite.






Pollen Street Social on Urbanspoon