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The Mark Addy, Manchester


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Well everyone else has made the offal joke, so why can't I.

Yes, another of my attempts to give Mancunian places of note their own threads rather than them getting lost in the overloaded catch-all Manchester thread.

Anyone Mancunian will know Robert (Owen) brown. He cut his teeth at the Chophouses and Lounge Ten (and possible one of the other Caroll restaurants) before making a name for himself doing fantastic hearty British cooking under his own steam at The Bridge. Think lots of game, meat and offal, with much of the produce shot or fished himself, arriving in the kitchen feathered and furred for proper butchery.

It was really, really great, and even Jay Rayner liked it (there's a review online somewhere).

Then it went downhill, then it went bump. This is to be a recurring theme. Rob cooked at a couple of other places around the North West (too far flung for me to get to) and eventually ended up at The Angel, just by the Northern Quarter. Lots of people like Rob, and lots of people liked it (including Jay), but I had three pretty average meals there and stopped going. Then it went downhill, then it went bump.

Once again Rob has reappeared, this time at the Mark Addy, a quirky old pub with a top deck that looks like a 1980's nightclub (all tubular chrome and smoked glass) and a basement space wedged on a Victorian riverside landing stage with barrel-bricked ceilings. I don't think he runs the business, but he certainly runs the kitchen, and on my visit this week that was a very good thing indeed.

The main menu had all the normal Rob dishes which, though great, are the same things he was cooking a decade ago (poached ducks egg with black pudding, Morecambe bay shrimps on a crumpet etc). The specials though? Well off the back of some recent media bits and pieces it was even more skewed towards offal than usual, and it read like a dream...

Potato and leek soup (next!)

Roast bone marrow with parsley salad (Fergus himself had popped in that same week)

Heart and tongue terrine

Bull's fries with caper sauce

Roast partridge or roast pheasant with veg, roast potatoes, jus etc etc...

With a chum in tow we skipped the soup, ordered the other three starters and both birds. In brief the bone marrow was excellent (better than my last experience of Fergus' signature dish in the city...) if a touch less refined than St John's in finish and presentation, the heart and tongue terrine was gorgeous with a wonderful sweetness and a tasty (if tough to cut) wrapping of leek, and the bull's fries were a revolation, lightly frittered with the texture of sweetbreads if an earthier flavour and the capers cutting through the creaminess.

The two game birds (insert sexist joke here) were both belting, served perfectly moist with a pink blush in the meat, and arranged on a chopping board in a "soixante neuf" with simple veg, fondant potato and a scattering of roast news along with a jug of arse-kickly good game jus (no cutting with chicken or veal stock here!) and the nice touch of a sprig of fresh herbs tucked into a spent shot-gun cartridge.

All. Bloody. Lovely. And the best food I've eaten from Rob in ten years or so. He seemed happy and on the ball and is obviously in a good place. If he keeps this mood up (he's getting married shortly so not sure if that is the reason for his bluebirds of happiness) I'll be becoming a regular. I even like the room itself with a mish-mash of furniture, that awesome brick ceiling and stone walls, and the 80's pub carpet. The river view is ace too.

Cheers

Thom

Edited by thom (log)

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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I'm glad to hear Rob passed his screen testes.

You see what I did there?!

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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Thom, wiil offal be a main theme in this venture, is it going to be a St John of the North? Which if it is, would be excellent.I am surprised the St Johnesque restaurants have not poped up more in the North, whereby Offal is not considered a fad ingredient. I am encouraged to pop in myself as I work across the road from the place every Friday.

Nice one our KID(ney)

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Not going to be offal themed, but Rob does know how to cook the stuff well. Fergus has massive respect for ROB; he put him as one of his recommendations in Coco, the Phaidon book last year that showcased up and coming chefs from around the world.

The Mark Addy seems to be doing what Rob's been aspiring to do for the last few years.

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Not offal-themed as such, but I'd be suprised if it wasn't an ongoing regular part of the menu. As Rob himself said "my balls are selling better than my steak" and combined with a excellent GP what chef would turn their back on that business in the current climate!

Jonathan Schofield, the Manchester Confidential editor, joined us for the tail-end of the meal (in a non offal sense) and he felt quite strongly that Rob should make the offal the centre-piece of the offering, as it gave a USP over other places in town.

We shall see what happens, but he mentions the point here:

http://www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/Food-and-Drink/Other-Food-Stories/Food-and-Drink-Round-up-11022010_10345.asp

If you fancy making a special bollocks pilgrimage RDB I'd just call ahead and see what's on the menu that day.

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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Thom, wiil offal be a main theme in this venture, is it going to be a St John of the North? Which if it is, would be excellent.I am surprised the St Johnesque restaurants have not poped up more in the North, whereby Offal is not considered a fad ingredient. I am encouraged to pop in myself as I work across the road from the place every Friday.

We talked long and hard about whether The Modern (with which, from midnight tonight, I am no longer involved) should attempt to be the St John's of the north as it were. And, frankly, we wimped out. Just not convinced the market would stand it from an unknown team. With R O-B's reputation and following, though, its possible. If the money works out, and he doesn't get distracted.

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not offal-themed as such, but I'd be suprised if it wasn't an ongoing regular part of the menu. As Rob himself said "my balls are selling better than my steak" and combined with a excellent GP what chef would turn their back on that business in the current climate!

Jonathan Schofield, the Manchester Confidential editor, joined us for the tail-end of the meal (in a non offal sense) and he felt quite strongly that Rob should make the offal the centre-piece of the offering, as it gave a USP over other places in town.

We shall see what happens, but he mentions the point here:

http://www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/Food-and-Drink/Other-Food-Stories/Food-and-Drink-Round-up-11022010_10345.asp

If you fancy making a special bollocks pilgrimage RDB I'd just call ahead and see what's on the menu that day.

Definitely nothing like St John on any level.

When I went to The Bridge in the past I had heard of "local" celebrity chef ROB, through various sources. After I had eaten there I thought (as did others that went with me)was that it? Was I missing something? Is there a secret area of the taste buds that I do not have that denied me from this guys food? Basically my experience was basic, ok food, the sort you could do as well or better at home. I do remember the chef smoozing amongst guests most of the evening, which made me realise the popularity this guy has. But after a similar experience at the Mark Addy, that is bland food, smoozing with guests, etc the only thing I can conclude is popularity and being friendly does not equate to good food.

The worst soup I have tasted in a while, "White bean and wild garlic", a large bowl of insipid and vapid blandness. The type of soup that obviously requires those special taste buds. Sent it back, not charged, however the insistent waiter stated he had just had the soup and it was delicious.

"Deep fried OX tongue and fiery mustard". A play on an ox tongue sandwich with mustard, which may have worked as such,however deep fried in oil that was slightly rancid made it bearly edible. Nothing fiery about the mustard.

Duck egg, shrimps and what seemed like a barm cake, again quite bland, with the sauce being tepid and accompanied with a skin, egg was good. Incidentally if you like eggs go here, it has about ten dishes that feature eggs.

Smoked duck salad, ok, salad well dressed however a parmesan wafer had the rancid oil taste.

Coffee, double espresso served in a standard coffee cup.

The pub itself is really drab and appears dank and dirty, it reminds me of something from the 70's. The view of the canal is good if you are fan of Ewan Macoll folk songs, however the flotsom and jetsom may put you off your food.

The menu in general is quite boring and lacks anything that appealing. The majority of the dishes we chose were specials, which were not that special.

Service over enthusiatic and at times passively aggressive.

Now I am sure ROB is the soundest guy in the world and I am sure he will continue to be held in high esteem, in my experience this is not based upon his food, but more driven by having a "celebrity chef" in Manchester that the Manchester Evening News (and others) can eulogise over.

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My experience of ROB over the years in the many restaurants he has been at is this. If he's actually manning the stove/pass then the meal will be good to great. If he's not it can end up being awful. (I've had this suspicion confirmed by a couple of decent HC's I respect who have worked with him)

From this I conclude that he's a great cook but a poor chef, in that his ability to instill his own cooking standards on his sous/commis is wanting, and those of us who know his business history with all the various incarnations can only conclude he's pretty crap at financials.

BUT, (at Lounge Ten in particular), I have had some truly stunning meals that ROB has had his fair hand in, so it's a definite lottery. Are you feeling lucky punk?

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  • 7 months later...

A bunch of us turned up here at the weekend, having strolled through the early afternoon

manchester sunshine (grey with a light drizzle for the uninitiated).

First impression the smell of damp carpet walking in the foyer/lobby/top of the stairs bit? which made my heart sink, however as I went downstairs through the double doors, saw the bar and the brickwork I cheered up, and when I got a decent pint of black sheep in my hand from the smiling young lady who looked after us I was a happy boy.

What is it with Black sheep in Manchester? everywheres selling it at the moment - Not a bad thing from what I can see as this was well kept.

The room was filling up its a decent size, you have to stop yourself being distracted on the flotsam and jetsam going past (both in the water and out). I was sure one of them was Manni anyhow.. can he still have that haircut?

So what can I tell you? The cooking style is the same as the previous reviews here and none the worse for it.

All 7 of us ate well, The stars of the show were the Lambs Hearts which were erm awesome, the Fish and Chips - nice fish great batter, and a shellfish broth.

The previously widely reported bone marrow was good, I really like that dish, the mackeral less so.

A friend was very impressed with his duck shaped toast, to accompany a very nicely presented duck egg of which I didnt get to try any.

We stayed off the wine, the desserts and coffee were fine the best I tasted being a hazlenut cream though a meringue looked good too.

Rob who we've seen on the telly recently was storming around which we all liked, forget the carpet in the wierd lobby bit the foods great

Why arent there more places like this?

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  • 11 months later...

I remember the Mark Addy when it opened in 1981. It was a manky city centre pub at best. Renovated in 2009, it looks like the cellar of Victorian riverside warehouse. For me, it’s a place for which the word “gastropub” was invented. That’s the right mix between “gastro” and “pub”. When you enter, you hit the bar area serving a good range of beer. There’s also a range of bar snacks that set the style of the place - Spam fritters or a Blacksticks Blue bhaji, for instance. And then there’s the more restauranty end – with an open kitchen so there’s chefs to watch should conversation flag.

There’s a changing menu which reflects the seasons and local produce. It’s supplemented by the odd special or two. And my starter was one of the specials – mushrooms on toast. Now, these weren’t just any old mushrooms. These were foraged wild mushrooms, lightly fried and retaining some bite. They sat on the toast which, unfortunately, had collapsed into a soggy morass due to the generous portion of sauce which had been ladled around it. Tasted fab though.

The other starter also had issues on the soggy front. A baked Morecambe Bay shrimp soup topped with puff pastry. Again, a fab flavour but the pastry kept falling into the liquid which drowned it. Possibly a deliberate reference to history – the real Mark Addy saved over 50 people from drowning in the Irwell during the 19th century.

For mains, two mackerel fillets had been lightly smoked, providing an interesting little backnote of flavour. There should have been another backnote of Leagrams blue cheese. Presumably it was in the sauce but, although this was savoury and enjoyable, there was no real sign of cheese maestro Bob Kitching’s work. There was a little chard, some new potatoes and a scattering of chestnuts which seemed an odd combination with the fish.

Mutton was absolutely bloody delicious! Long cooked melt in the mouth mutton. Packed with flavour. Rich sauce. A spoonful of a celeriac cream. And Nodding Pudding. No, me neither. It’s a mashed potato and flour mix – a sort of bubble and squeak without the squeak. Just the thing for mopping up the sauce. I really liked this plate of food. I liked it a lot.

Service was that sort of relaxed, friendly, efficient style that was well suited to a pub. Also well suited was the excellent range of well priced wines by the glass.

I think we might just become regulars. Well, there’s the brawn and piccalilli toast to try. And the oxtail/tongue combo main course. Oh, and the dandelion & burdock roast duck with Lyth Valley damsons. And it’s probably the only place outside of an Oldham chippy that you’re going to see rag pudding.

John Hartley

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