Our writers and staff choose their favourite meals from August

ANOTHER month, another round of dishes that held our taste buds to ransom. The Manchester Confidential writing staff (and lesser-spotted species from the likes of social media and technical) share their favourite dishes from August. 

2023 08 29 Seaforth Review Body
Seabass Aqua Pazza from Seaforth at Liverpool's Municipal Hotel Image: Confidentials

Seabass Aqua Pazza, Seaforth Restaurant at The Municipal Hotel, Liverpool (£23)

Having had a wander along the Liverpool waterfront earlier in the day, I’d decided I was in the mood for fish. So main course was the seabass aqua pazza with new potatoes, fennel, spring onion, red chilli, cherry tomato and black olive tapenade. Aqua pazza translates as ‘crazy water’ - a subtle but wonderfully flavourful broth that the seabass perches above, atop a rockpool of new potatoes.

The fish was seared to a scientific degree, somehow having that golden crust without sacrificing the moisture of one of the meatier fishes. I wonder if the Seaforth has a dedicated ‘sear chef’ because between the scallops and the seabass someone in that kitchen has an internal clock like Geneva Station.

I think the best fish dishes are exquisitely simple, and here there was essentially two of them. A near-perfect piece of fish that could be enjoyed on its own merits, but also a complex and faintly floral broth that with a touch of salt is sumptuous. Any dish that lets you fancily slice apart a fish and afterwards pick up a big spoon is a winner for me.

David Adamson  @davidadamson123

2023 08 30 Dotm Madre Lamb Cutlet
Barbecued pistachio crusted lamb cutlets from Madre (£18) Image: Confidentials

Cordero al Carbon (or Barbecued pistachio crusted lamb cutlets), Madre (£18) 

First up, in the picture it resembles some Atlantic-lashed Hebridean island, its rocky shoreline pocked with algae and guano. Nothing Mexican about it. Look more closely, though, and you’ll discover the kind of char only serious searing on a wood-fired grill can impart to a duo of lamb cutlets.

These substantial beasts have been crusted with pistachio crumb and are embedded in an avocado salsa to produce that unnerving greenness. It’s not just tacos at Madre. They also pride themselves on the mains sizzling on the open parrilla at their new Kampus home. A few shots of mezcal and you’ll transport yourself to Oaxaca or Yucatan, that's the mission. Well, it has worked brilliantly at the Albert Dock, Liverpool original.

My more sober plan had been to plunder the raw bar, starting with a dozen Carlingford oysters, but the Bank Holiday had buggered the seafood delivery, so I went all carnívoro. In truth, I was full after the birra tacos, where mounds of pulled beef shin, cheese and a fire-roasted tomato salsa were encased in corn tortillas deep-fried in ox fat. A far remove from such slow-cooked barbacoa, the grilled, sweetly fatted lamb was as pink and tender as an Aztec sacrifice.

Neil Sowerby @AntonEgoManc

2023 08 29 Harley Dotm
Chicken breast stuffed with haggis from the Assheton Arms in Clitheroe Image: Confidentials

Goosnargh chicken breast stuffed with haggis, Assheton Arms (£22.95)

There’s nothing cosier than a hearty evening meal in a quaint village pub with a roaring fire. Even in the depths of August, it still has charm to it. 

After spending a Saturday afternoon walking around Clitheroe, my partner and I returned to the Assheton Arms for the evening and made ourselves comfortable with a bottle of rosé. I couldn’t pass up a chance to sample something from the specials menu, written in chalk and hanging in the hallway between pub and dining room. 

The Goosnargh chicken breast stuffed with haggis, wrapped in pancetta and served with fondant potato, purple broccoli and whisky pepper sauce sounded absolutely divine. I was sold.

Presented on a gigantic speckled plate sat two huge slabs of chicken breast cut at an angle to reveal the herby and fragrant haggis with which it was stuffed, all held together by a blanket of razor-thin pancetta that added the perfect amount of salty crispiness to each bite. Believe it or not, this was my first time trying haggis. I thoroughly enjoyed it. All those childish so-and-so's who had put me off for so many years with their “You know what that’s made of, don’t you?” comments don’t realise what they’re missing. 

The fondant potato was perfectly crispy on the outside with a light and fluffy centre, no raw bits in sight - not an easy feat with such a chunky cut of potato. The purple broccoli was lightly charred and tasted incredibly fresh.

I mopped up the remaining whisky pepper sauce with the last of my fondant potato and broccoli, savouring the thick and flavoursome liquid and I tried to dissect the exact ingredients to replicate it again at home. Close, but no such luck. I suppose another trip to Assheton Arms is on the cards. 

Harley Young @Harley__Young

2023 08 29 Chit And Chaat Gobi Manchurian
The gobi Manchurian from Chit 'n' Chaat in Cheadle Image: Confidentials

Gobi Manchurian, Chit'n'Chaat, Cheadle (£7.95)

Cauliflower. Indisputably one of the most mundane vegetables on the planet or at least that's how I look at it. This insipid brassica never fails to remind me of school dinners, where I had to clear my plate every lunchtime, including the nondescript white mush that was supposedly cauliflower.

Anyway, fast forward forty years and if cauliflower has been fully pimped up, disco cauliflower or a cauliflower cheese which has been oven cooked so you get the gratin topping along with some crispy bacon bits - you’ve got my attention.

So obviously if you’re going to deep fry cauliflower in batter and cook it with onion, ginger, peppers and soy sauce, you'll manage to help me obliterate the traumatic memories of the school dinner hall. 

Undoubtedly, numerous restaurants offer their rendition of this Indo-Chinese dish, but I reckon, Chit'n'Chaat in Cheadle outshines the rest – their batter boasts a delicate yet crispy texture, it's sticky and crunchy plus the flavours hit the perfect intensity, and above all, it eliminates any semblance of blandness. It’s not a chore to clear my plate. 

Georgina Harrington Hague  @georginahague

2023 08 30 Dotm August Edinburgh Castle Pork Bun
The roast pork bun from Edinburgh Castle in Ancoats Image: Confidentials

Roast Pork Bun, Edinburgh Castle, Ancoats (£11)

I know the Edinburgh Castle as one of the coolest boozers in the region, but having been recommended the food I nipped in on a dismal Saturday lunch. The full menu wasn’t available, which pissed me off even more than the weather.

I ordered a roast pork bun and a pint of cider and settled into a corner table. Friels first press vintage cider, 5.5% volume, perked me up a little: classic strong and murky apple, lifted by fresh acidity and those nearly-bubbles; loved it.

The bun arrived. My eyes widened. This wasn’t a pork sandwich from the landlord’s wife trying to get pocket money to get her nails done. This was looking promising, a ‘near’ brioche bun, filled with three thickly cut slices of ever-so-slowly roasted pork belly, dribbling with gravy.

The very look of it, the smell of it, I was hooked even before I started to eat the bloody thing. This was going to be a love affair. The gravy had flowed out onto the plate. I took a mouthful. My eyes opened wide, the pork was a dream, the gravy a great work of herby lushness, and, oh dear, a truly brilliant thick rhubarb, er, compote? Sauce didn’t seem an adequate description. 

This was Lauren Bacall’s effect on Bogart’s career in . The rhubarb lifted the pork to another level. This chef is Howard Hawks re-incarnated.

Mark Garner @Gordomanchester

2023 08 30 Dotm Karaage Chicken
Karaage fried chicken from New Wave Ramen Image: Confidentials

Karaage Japanese Fried Chicken with side of Yuzu Mayo, New Wave Ramen at Mackie Mayor, (£7)

My pronounciation of karaage chicken is often wrong and not the correct Kah-ra-geh. I now pronounce it ‘Kah raj’ like Nigel Farage (let’s face it he should be saying Nigel ‘Fa’ridge’ but we forgive him*) but I do it because a friend once found that funny and now before you know it, I’m saying it out loud and ruining my food credentials.

Anyway, New Wave Ramen have had a kickstarter going for their new premises on Tib Lane, and have since hit their fundraising goal. I’ve backed it but once I backed it, I thought instantly that I needed to try it again. There’s a mental list of food I have in my head and usually the top billing is usurped by an insatiable need for ramen.

The ramen was excellent as ever - they’re fighting it out to be the best in the city with the Tokyo Ramen lot but the Karaage chicken side sent me right back to my Nippon travels. Hot, crunchy and perfectly spiced with the yuzu mayo cutting through it like a satisfying TikTok trend. Sides are often side characters, but this was no Big Mad Andy, this was a Super Hans.

*No we don’t.

Hayden Naughton @HaydenNaughton

Dish Of The Month Simplicity Boquerones
Boquerones and let's not mess things about Image: Confidentials

Boquerones, Tast (£7)

There's something elegant about simplicity. I find this is particularly the case with Spanish food. The raw materials are so good especially the charcuterie, cheese and fish they don't need messing about with.

The fashion in the last fifteen years of dousing so much Iberian food in sauces, particularly sickly ones that sweeten classic cuts of meat and fish, has been mostly dispiriting and mostly unnecessary. This has left me scratching my head as why would a chef want to spoil the food with all this flouncing around.    

I first noticed this saucy tactic in 2014 as a guest with Gordo at the restaurant of chef Nacho Manzano in Asturias, Casa Marcial. One dish, 'pigeon marinated in seaweeds with emulsion of Kalamata, herbs of the seaside and sardine cream' was a mess of expensive ingredients that was as unpleasant as it was expensive. 

The following day Manzano drove us to the fishing village of Ribasella, where on the harbour front, we ate crabs just minutes after they'd been teased from the rocky shoreline. Snap. Crack. Joy. Simple. Elegant. Perfect.

We drank local cider but Manzano drank all the cider. At the next stop he drank all the wine. At 80mph on the motorway back he fell asleep at the wheel and we all narrowly avoided saying hello and immediately goodbye to a roadside copse of oak trees. We wouldn't let him drive after that. 

Anyway, back to my dish of the week. This is boquerones (white anchovies) marinated with garlic, parsley and olive oil from Tast on King Street. Sharp as a pin, great textures, great flavours, beautifully presented. Simplicity defined. Nothing more needed. 

Jonathan Schofield @jonathschofield

2023 08 30 Dotm Ramona Roast Pizza
The Ramona roast chicken slice Image: Confidentials

Ramona Roast Chicken Slice, Ramona (£8.50)

Sunday roasts are overrated. There, I said it, please don’t batter me. File alongside full English breakfasts in the boring meals that people rave about for some reason. Now I’m not saying they are bad per se, I just see them as generally an uninteresting plate of food – and I certainly don’t feel the need to have one every Sunday like some maniacs out there.

All this being said, the best thing I ate this month was a version of a Sunday roast. Kind of. Yep, that’s right, it’s the roast chicken pizza at Ramona. The Detroit pizza peddlers have been chucking out hipster squares of cheese and tomato for a while now but they now come with added gravy jugs. Gramtastic.

Perfectly crusty right angled dough, stringy cheese, herby stuffing and chicken chunks with cascading hot gravy being poured left, right and centre – top stuff. This is Sunday fodder I can get behind.

Jake Ogden  @Mancogden

2023 08 30 Dotm August Harry Pszza Pizza
Pepperoni pizza from Harry Pszza Image: Confidentials

Pepperoni pizza, Harry Pszza, Bolton Food and Drink Festival (£10)

Being rather disappointed to see everything closing down at around 6pm on Sunday at the Bolton Food & Drink Festival, we decided to head over to The Vaults for a few drinks. Finding a new place called 'The Patio' just outside the Market Place with live music was a nice surprise. It's a pub pop up and worth giving a go before it disappears over winter. The drinks are a bit ‘meh’ but the acoustic sets more than make up for that.

Despite having scranned some perfectly good noodles previously, the smell of Harry Pszza's fresh fire baked pizza was too much to resist. As a diabetic, I usually shun pizza but this was not that stodgy cardboard disc that would still look and taste the same after a nuclear winter. The dough is fresh and light with nicely charred bubbles around the edges. The cheese and tomato turned into a sumptuous lava when added to the fatty oiliness of the pepperoni.

Adding oregano for an extra £1 seems a bit of a hefty upsell but it was worth it. My blood sugar the next morning was reasonably low so I'll be re-arranging my homeward commute to go via Harry’s Walkden shop on the way home now. It's worth the extra half hour drive.

Martyn Pitchford @Pitch_Blend

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