The foodie highlight of our break in Manchester was to be Aumbry, for some posh nosh. We love down and dirty food, but at heart we’re proper classy n’ that and wanted to treat ourselves to something fancy.
Getting off the Metro in Prestwich we followed the iPhone’s navigation, taking in the backs of shops and shut down pubs of Prestwich and eventually arrived at our destination, a little bit early, but we thought perhaps we could go in and wait in the lounge upstairs.
We were, however, shown to our table straight away, and the delightful waitress apologised for not being quite ready yet, to which we counter-apologised for being so early. Gosh, we’re all so very British, aren’t we? Apologies over, a glass of cucumber infused water was poured.
I for one, loved the glasses, circular at the rim and oval at the base. I want some. This cucumber infused water was lovely and palate cleansing. Sara and I sat and chatted, we were in no rush whatsoever.
There is a lot of white happening in Aumbry, with me facing the window, I did get a bit of a headache from the natural sunlight and the lighting indoors hitting everything that was white. Next time, I’ll just go later in the evening, but when we booked we could only get in for when they opened.
Amuse bouches began to arrive to… err… amuse our… bouches… we started off with a little choux pastry ball, filled with warm nutty cheese sauce. Cheese sauce dribbling off my chin has never been so delicious (I told you I’m proper classeh)
The cheesy puff was followed by my favourite bite of the night. This amuse bouche was a puree of black peas (parched peas to me) topped with vinegar scraps, they made an agar jelly of vinegar, battered and deep fried. This was just gorgeous, and classy as always, I had my finger in the empty bowl reaching for the last bits of the puree.
Bread arrived next, and as you can see from the picture I was too eager to start eating bread (Hi, my name is Kris, and I have a problem) I forgot to take a photo. We were offered a choice of white or brown, or both, sourdough bread. Gosh, this was great. The crusty bread had so much flavour, but it’s not just about the bread.
Dripping too. I’d never had bread and dripping in my life until then. It was one of those things my grandparents used to talk about fondly, and I couldn’t get my head around me. I’m now won over.
There was also two types of butter, a standard salted butter, and the other a nut brown butter, no idea how it was made but it was brilliant.
The final amuse bouche was a goats liver… erm, iced gem. That’s what it made me think of, though. Details on what was on the plate are a bit non-specific here, I’m sorry, but I do remember thinking “this is very livery”, almost too livery, but I was okay with it, I do like offal after all.
The first proper course of the absolute bargain of a Tuesday tasting menu (5 courses for £25!) was a Bury Black Pudding Scotch Egg with homemade tomato ketchup & mushroom relish. I’m a bit of a black pudding shirker, it’s texture for me is horrible, but I loved the smooth texture of the black pudding in this.
The best thing was, that the centre of the egg was still perfect and runny. Black pudding, egg and mushroom. It’s a bite sized breakfast, innit?
The next course was soup, which can be a pretty boring thing to eat, if comforting. Not here, though.
Sharpe’s Express Potato Soup, with home cured pastrami and English truffle. Wow. Just wow. The soup was foamy and had a great creaminess to it. The best bits where the bits of pastrami at the bottom. Wet potato* has never tasted so good.
I have a mild allergy to celery, so here is where our courses go their separate ways. I informed them of my allergy because I knew that their signature dessert contains a celery granita (more on that later) but when celery is used in the base of a sauce, I’m okay with those tiny amounts, however, as celery was used in the sauce of their main, I got a different one.
Sara’s main, and I apologise for the vagueness, but I only managed to photograph my menu, so I’m not sure of the specifics was fish (yep said I was vague, I think it was cod, though) with a Lapsang Souchong (you don’t forget that) sauce.
My main was Slow Cooked Cumbrian Beef, with Shetland Black potatoes & Glebeland’s Farm rocket leaves. It also had little dots of an oyster mayonnaise. This dish was comprised of two different cuts of the beef, the eye rib and another cut which I can’t remember. The eye rib was beautiful and tender, but sadly the other cut was tough, really tough, I mentioned this to our waitress and she took it back to the kitchen, returned and apologised, unfortunately that cut of meat hadn’t cooked for long enough, so they were replating my dish with just rib meat.
This was lovely, but now I was watching Sara eat her food with nothing in front of me, and then she had to watch me eat mine with nothing in front of her. Would have been nice if it had come out perfect, but these things happen, c’est la vie!
My favourite part of this was the oyster mayonnaise. It sure packed a salty punch. Ooft.
Sara’s dessert was their Grapefruit Posset with celery granita and sherbert. The idea is that you take the spoon with the sherbert in it, dunk it into the granita and posset and have a bit of everything at once, and it’s like a flavour explosion. Sara confirmed this to be the case. When granita had been moved off the top, I had a taste of the posset, and it was lovely, light and refreshing.
Unfortunately my dessert wasn’t listed on the menu, so once again I’m light on details (I was too busy filling my face to take lots of notes, and a good month+ has passed since visiting), but I can tell you that it was a version of a sherry trifle, it was light as air, not your nanna’s stodgy sherry trifle, and it came with a little milkshake, too. I could have done with another of these.
We finished our meal with a couple of petit fours over coffee (for Sara) and bourbon (for me), firstly a little cocktail stick with a hazelnut caramel. It’s hazelnut and caramel, not much to say about it, but it was a nice little sweetie.
The second petit four were vanilla mousse sandwiched between thin little crumble biscuits. Heavenly.
Need I remind you that all of this came to the measly sum of £25? The Tuesday 5 course tasting menu is a steal, and I’d recommend it heartily. However… can I honestly say that £60 for their 6 course menu, and £75 for their 9 course menu is such great value for money, well, no I can’t because I’ve not tried it, but, I’m unconvinced when it comes to those sort of prices. I understand the £25 for a Tuesday is a deal to get people through the door on what I’d imagine would normally be a quiet day, but I’d rather go on a Tuesday, than pay an extra £35 for one more course on another day, but maybe that’s just me. Just don’t forget, the Tuesday menu is a bargain and well worth taking up when they reopen from their refurbishment in the new year.
*in joke between me and my girlfriend, Sara