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The Modern, Urbis, Manchester


thom
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Not to mention the return of Robert Owen Brown. Now that place I'm really looking forward to.

Just been chatting to Robert. Food as of Monday. Pub's looking good. Basic but they're doing it up gradually.

FAO Bapi, RDB and Thom; we'll add it to the next pub crawl around M'cr :-)

Adam

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I popped in yesterday too. You must have caught him in an optimistic mood as he told me food for Tuesday!

I used to drink in there as part of my Angel Meadow pub crawl (all within a hundred metres of my old apartments, where Adam now resides) incorporating the Marble Arch, the Pot of Beer (RIP) and the Beerhouse.

The latter, now The Angel under Rob, was always marketed as "Manchester's largest freehouse" and seemed to have tens of beers on at any one time. A bit rough and ready (ie scruffy/dirty) but it had a commited following of real ale nerds.

Refit is just as quick and simple as everyone expected - the major work in the kitchen and a bloody good clean and paint FoH. It is still quite basic as opposed to a shabby-chic superstyled retro pub but I actually like the lack of fuss and pretension.

Wine list looks so-so, with some decent deals at bin-ends and the beers are fine with a couple of decent real ales (some Tatton based brewery whose name escapes me but whose little-seen beers are well respected).

Menu looks... plain, in all honesty. Black pudding with a poached egg, duck liver pate for starters, steak or chicken with thyme for mains etc. Very, very safe, though that is not to say that I wouldn't enjoy eating it and with Robert behind the stove you know it will be cooked impeccably.

Mark, Roberts partner in this, assured me that the more interesting seasonal stuff as well as game and offal will appear on the specials menu - they're hoping for an extra two or three extra dishes a day. All starters around £6, mains around £10/11.

It's only a couple of minutes walk from Moorfield Towers so I will be planning to try and put a visit in at some point next week.

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Another lunch at Abode (courtesy of a friendly PR angling for business). How long can they keep doing this insanely good value lunch?

We did the grazing lunch menu again (3 courses for £9:95) though naughty Abode - they lumbered us with large and super-complicated A La Carte menu's and only brought the diminutive lunch menus when prompted.

To be honest we talked a lot of business so I didn't obsess about the food, but everything I ate was good and much was excellent.

Starter was a goats cheese ravioli with herb (thyme?) cream and pea-shoots and assorted salad.

Main was guineau fowl, a couple of small but chunky discs with a wonderful jus and some teeny-tiny turnips, carrots and diced pepper and tomato.

Dessert was duo of chocolate - white chocolate ice cream (a bit loose) on a disk of chocolate biscuit with a chocolate mouse underneath which was slightly too firm.

Lots of bread was supplied too - nice loaves, with lovely texture but I find them a bit lightweight.

The concept is that the portions are small "grazing" size but the fact that you get the variety and balance of a three course meal without feeling bloated in the belly or light in the wallet is excellent for midday dining.

We had a bottle of Malborough SB for £24, water, and a couple of decent coffees which came with delish petit four for the table (malibu foam shots and some divine salted caramels).

The wobble with the desserts suprised me as they have a dedicated pastry chef here who is normally very good.

In the early days of enjoying this lunch deal we had shared the space with a mere handful of other diners. Despite the food and the price it is a basement restaurant (bad) in a hotel (bad) in the wrong end of town (bad).

Today though thirty plus people had or were dining in the time we were there. Weekends and dinners have always held up and if they crack lunches too this place could thrive. Good for them.

All in all an excellent lunch. Nothing to shock and awe I don't think, unless of course you find the fact that you can get refined, clever and technical cooking at knockdown prices in downtown Manchester suprising....

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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  • 2 weeks later...

Its not on The Observer site yet, but that nice (he even tells us he is) Mr Rayner gave a very fair review of The Modern. Thankfully reviewing the place in its own terms rather than as a fine dining restaurant.

Though the image of the tundra of his chest will stay with me.

And using a line from a Liverpool band in a review of a Manc restaurant should have the subs shot.

[edit to add link to review]

Edited by BertieWooster (log)

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the link, Bertie. Not least for the mention that Fat Loaf is opening a branch in Didsbury - I could almost walk it.

By co-incidence, Mrs H was at their Sale branch last night, dining with colleagues. She thought it reasonably OK - starter of black pud/beetroot/crispy bacon; lamb burger main and then shared a very large cheese selection (5 Brit, 5 French - good sized wodge of each).

John Hartley

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Just to note a special one-time only appearance by the Arbutus boys.

Also to note that the linked website hasn't been updated for far too long.

[Edit: and apparently that event has been cancelled. So much for providing the latest news]

It hasn't been cancelled because Matthew Grant was suffering from severe anxiety at the thought of Anthony Demetre not being in Arbutus or Wild Honey for one night??? :wink::wink:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Had a good dinner here on a quiet Monday, specials menu read really well and the ones we tried - cheek and walnut salad, Venison, especially the faggot, and the quince tatin (great idea) - were excellent, I think it's just personal preference but the mutton chop served pink (that's a 'chef cooks it pink' not just me being contrary) tasted fine but looked like it had developed a little middle age spread so I wasn't quite sure what to do with the thick layer of yellow fat, shoulder was beautifully cooked and delicately rolled and I can see why you would invite the Arbutus boys for tea. Only downside was the location of the toilets (more signage and less wild coordinated gesticulation from the bar staff next time possibly) and the fern on our table which we needed to order a jug of water for - and as many of his mates as we could reach without being noticed- it was so dry, look it seemed like a good idea at the time, but that could have been the Rhone talking. Will happily go again next time I'm in Manchester.

P.S. Slightly off topic but right forum the previous night we did Red and Hot - hate to say it but prefer it to Red Chilli - anybody tried the London branch?

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  • 2 months later...
paul heathcotes london road restaurant  in alderley edge,

Pleasant, if not perfect, lunch at London Road today.

Nice modern room. Welcoming, friendly efficient staff. Good looking menu. Lots of wines by the glass.

Mrs H passed on a starter and went for the fish & chips off the carte. Good fish - big portion - although the batter could have been crispier. Chips were excellent – proper chip-sized chips, crispy on the outside and soft and potatoey on the inside. Mushy peas and tartare sauce were underwhelming.

I went with the lunch menu. Two courses for £12.50; three for £15.50 or thereabouts. Four reasonable choices at each course and, typical of a Heathcote place, some emphasis on local produce – the Cumberland sausages for the sausage and mash came from the butchers just 100 yards down the road. At prices this keen, there is often a risk that portion control will be predominant. And, let us say, that I was unfortunately not disappointed. A starter of warmed Welsh goats cheese worked well, its creaminess contrasting with caramelised hazelnuts and some dressed rocket. The main of salmon, Anya potato and mangetout was perfectly fine but was gone in not much more than four or so mouthfuls. A less charitable person might describe the portion as “mean spirited”. Good job I wasn't too hungry.

We had coffee to finish – served, unforgivably, luke warm.

Generally speaking, a good experience and one we'd sample again. And certainly easier to get to than schlepping into the city (but , of course, that depends where you're starting from :biggrin: ).

Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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  • 2 months later...

There is something a little unnerving about posting a review when one knows that at least two regulars in these parts have a vested interest in the establishment but here goes nonetheless...

Went for dinner at the Modern on Friday night with my wife and we both left having had a lovely evening but wishing for just a teensy bit more from a place which is so very close to outstanding.

Arrived at 7.45 and shot straight to the bar. Immediate impressions were that we had definitely chosen the right place for our night out (grown up with small child now, so reliant on baby-sitters and resigned to not being able to eat out at will anymore :sad: ). The bar is nigh on perfect. Relaxed, cool great views and decor, good soundtrack and above all top quality drinkswise! I was literally booted awake by a Kick like a Mule cocktail which did indeed contain enough alcohol to kill a small equine mammal but left a wonderful green apple tingle from the calvados. My wife thought her Jayne Mansfield was perfect - champagne and strawberries never goes wrong.

The service impressed me all evening. Professional, attentive, but not in-your-face. Never rushed, we were escorted downstairs to our table which enabled wonderful views over God's own city.

And so to the food. I began with smoked duck and duck livers with preserved grapes. In short, everything I want from a starter in spring - light, packed with flavour, cleverly assembled, top ingredients simply cooked. Other half enjoyed potted mackerel with pickled cucumber - simple, well made, nicely presented and keenly priced.

Mains were, on the face of it, absolute stonkers in terms of size and quality. Every aspect of the dishes we ordered were beautifully presented and superbly cooked. Thoroughly enjoyable in every respect except one - seasoning. Adding salt is possibly the simplest process to take place in a kitchen whether pro or at home - but it's also one of the most dangerous, potentially taking food to a place from which there is no recovery. Personally, if I'm paying 22.50 for a ribeye with bone marrow I would rather the marrow and accompanying chips were under seasoned rather than over - I could always ask for salt and add myself. Our accompanying side of savoy cabbage with cheshire smoked bacon committed the same sin. The cabbage and bacon flavour were masked by too much salt and, unbelieveably for my wife and I, the dish was left unfinished.

However, I am at pains to stress that this detracted from our evening far less than it might due to the pieces of meat that were alongside the couple of naughty ingredients. The ribeye was advertised as 8oz but must have been closer to 10 and was an example of its kind. Perfectly seared to medium-rare, soft and flavoursome, it was a perfect match for the unctiousness of the bone marrow - the Missus was more than pleased. I meanwhile was faced with as good a piece of pork belly as I have eaten and was the picture of smugness with every single tooth-sticking mouthfull. The accompanying faggot and mash were superb. A bottle of Aussie Maestro Sangiovese was a heavyweight red but perhaps a little steep at £35?

We finished with (excellent) coffees and a shared rhubarb trifle which was in truth rather pedestrian - knew I should have chosen the Eccles cake! Total bill £116 - 50 of which was on alcohol - represented definite value for money.

So, the ambience and quality of ingredients is second to none. The beautiful dining room is ideal for romantic couples or celebrating groups and the bar is, well, ace! Portions are generous and the menu truly 'modern'. It's got it all really.

Will we go back? Certainly. But please ease up on the salt.

Always hungry.

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Nice to here service has improved somewhat, as I have often found it a little slow and the staff uninformed.

I went for Sunday lunch a while back and they did a whole roast chicken with all the trimmings, which I remember being quite good.

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Thanks for that Chris.

Pinches of salt? The main crit The Modern got when it opened was that food was under-seasoned. Odd. But glad you enjoyed it.

More than a just a pinch I'm afraid!

Something I accidentally omitted from my review however, was the fact that there was no service charge or surruptitious 'gratuity' on the card reader - allowing diners to decide for themselves, without pressure, how to respond to their service. This is increasingly rare these days and is another reason The Modern endeered itself to me.

Manchester need gaffs like this.

Always hungry.

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