5 weekends, 8 writers, 21 Sunday Roasts, and 4 entire cows later, Confidential lists the very best Sunday Roasts in and around MCR
FROM the crack of Saturday to the edge of Sunday, somewhere between getting befuggled and shuffling your way around another shitty arts and crafts market, your belly will ask two very, very important questions of you:
1. Where to get a great breakfast? 2. Where to get a great Sunday Roast?
We've already sussed the BEST OF MCR: Breakfasts (you're welcome), so now it's onto the biggie, the main event, the weekend show stopper; that noble Sunday Roast.
And let's face it, there's only so many times you can turn up at your Nan's smelling like Loon the Moon, and nobody should ever have to wash up on a Sunday evening - that's article 32 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
So here's the best places in and around Manchester to find a top notch Sunday Roast with no washing-up...
(Some we visited just didn't make the cut, but there are some honorable omissions here. The Angel, for example, had ran out of roasts on our visit. That's just unlucky. Still, we'll be updating this list as we go so expect a few additions... oh and thanks for your help with this one, it's been invaluable)
BLUE PIG | Northern Quarter
For somewhere that boasts all over its website that “we are quite simply serving the best ROAST DINNERS in the Northern Quarter”, expectations were high. The Blue Pig is a quirky glass fronted bar where a uniform of tattooed sleeves, chin fuzz or vintage dress is mandatory – bonus points for all three. They’ve maximised on flavour and minimised on room for error by only offering cuts which require long, slow cooking. Choices are ‘eight hour Guinness braised brisket’, ‘slow roast lamb shoulder’ or ‘slow roast pork belly with cracking’ plus a vegetarian option. Portions are generous for £11.95 and all are served with a good Yorkshire pudding, three hefty roast potatoes, thick shards of roast carrot and parsnip and perfectly cooked broccoli. Piping hot cauliflower cheese is served on the side but the advertised ‘shed loads of proper gravy’ was salty enough to encourage second drinks orders. Deanna Thomas
£11.95 for Sunday Roast | The Blue Pig | High Street | Northern Quarter | M4 1FS | 0161 832 0630
GORILLA | City Centre
Topside has never been my favourite cut for a Sunday roast, but the Gorilla team make a convincing case with a their meltingly tender take – slow-roasted pink slivers of well-hung Lancashire-sourced beef, given oomph by a belting horseradish sauce. It comes with an abundance of gravy, needed to soften a slightly leathery Yorkshire pud, mashed carrot and swede, al dente kale and broccoli – and some determinedly chewy roast potatoes. Their pork roast, with crunchy crackling, is equally impressive and there’s also a sweet potato, apricot and chestnut roast for those on the other side. Neil Sowerby
£13.50 for topside beef | Gorilla | 54-58 Whitworth Street | Manchester | M1 5WW | 0161 407 0301
HARVEY NICHOLS | City Centre
Harvey Nichols hasn’t been on Gordo's Sunday radar for a few years (the breakfast definitely has). But when Gordo heard of this definitive list he decided to give the Second Floor restaurant a fair crack at it. Now, boys and girls, if you are attracted to a Sunday lunch on the price point, Gordo thinks you are a numbskull. Spend less on cars and more on your food. It’s one of the few things our Gallic cousins have got right. Gordo was worried that at £13 HN's roast beef was still not enough for top ingredients. Well, it looks nothing less that magnificent. Three thick slices of pink-ish topside of beef, a large Yorkshire pudding well cooked and filled with roasties, all sitting next to a pile of roasted root vegetables. A small jug of warm gravy made the plate. The potatoes were, as they so often are in large kitchens, not as good as Gordo’s but still top of the line at this level. The Yorkshire was better than Gordo’s, as was the gravy. Topside, a cut that dries out quickly if no care is shown, was lovely with a little fat. Really lovely. It's a Gordo go. Gordo
£13 per person | Harvey Nichols | 21 New Cathedral St | Manchester | M1 1AD | 0161 828 8888
HEARTH OF THE RAM | Ramsbottom
The Good Food Guide and Michelin credentials of this Rammie pub ensure a refined take on the traditional roast – there’s a bit of ‘sous vide’ going on before the Buccleuch Estate beef and local Helmshore lamb are given a good blast in the oven. My heavenly pink sirloin, moist from proper fat, came delicately sliced, but the accompanying Yorkshire pud was a bruiser which firmly held gravy that was big brother to a jus. Only underpowered horseradish let the ensemble down. Consolations: proper crisp roasties and chunky cauliflower cheese, parsnip chips and kale in perfect veggie harmony. Neil Sowerby
Two courses £20.95, three £25.95 | Hearth of the Ram | 13 Peel Brow | Ramsbottom | BL0 0AA | 01706 828681
NUTTERS | Rochdale
If you ever find yourself stranded up on Rochdale's windy Norden Pennines, wet-socked, rosy-cheeked and empty-bellied, you could do a shite sight worse than dropping in to Nutters' eighteenth-century manor house restaurant. Though you'll oft find him terrorising city bars, impish and possibly trouserless, when Andrew Nutter puts pan to fire the man can cook. Really cook. He was a young-gun at The Savoy, don't you know? Start by diving into his famed fluffy Rochdale focaccia and Black black pudding bread straight from the oven. Now we're off... out comes a usually unpopular fish starter, megrim sole, coated with aplomb in a rich herb pesto sauce (French onion soup is another winner). Next is Nutters' well fleshed, lean and juicy Limousin beef with its pal, a soft and pillowy Yorkshire pud. The veg with red cabbage is a little delicate for a Sunday (big, bold broccoli and beans in gravy will always come out on top) and potato slightly uncrisped (more duck/goose fat please) but it's hard to knock three-courses for £23.50, and it shows, the place is rammed from midday to 9pm every single Sunday. David Blake
Three courses for £23.50 | Nutters | Edenfield Road | Norden | Rochdale | OL12 7TT | 01706 650167
THE OXNOBLE | Castlefield
Let's get the pub’s name out of the way again. Despite the pictures of big bullocks inside and a brief rebranding to become The Ox, the origins of its name are far from bovine. It is named after a variety of potato, for as far back as 1804 spuds were shipped in along the nearby canal. Right then. To the Sabbath. Beef it was, which was splendid. Not quite my idea of rare but getting there and my prayer for a big tub of horseradish was answered by our server, who also brought over a truck load of al dente veg to bolster my mash, roasties and large, fluffy Yorkshire pud. Certainly worth a place on any Best Sunday Roast in Manchester roster. Neil Sowerby
Three courses for £17.95 | The Oxnoble | 71 Liverpool Road | Castlefield | M3 4NQ | 0161 839 7760
THE PARLOUR | Chorlton
Chorlton’s Parlour has a reputation to live up to; it won the Observer Food Monthly Best Sunday Roast award in 2012 - and was runner up in ‘11, ’13 AND ‘14. Subsequently it now caters for hoards from noon to 4.30pm-ish every Sunday, come rain or shine. Since the big win, the operation is as slick as San Antonio beach after the party season. Expect no more than ten mins from order to mouth, and identikit portion sizes. Choose from Frost’s supplied steak-thick slabs of pink beef, pork loin or nut roast with roasties, seasonal roots (carrot and swede mash, honey roasted parsnips) plus Yorkshires as large as thunder clouds. Greens include kale, cabbage, peas and more, and gravy is jus so. Packed with umami, the nut roast includes leeks, pumpkin seeds, rosemary, cashews and mushrooms, much of which is supplied by sustainable food heroes, Manchester Veg People. Surprisingly (or not in Chorlton), it’s the nut roast that makes this a real destination. Ruth Allan
£12.95 or £11.95 (nut roast) | The Parlour | 60 Beech Rd | Chorlton | M21 9EG | 0161 881 4871
PER TUTTI | City Centre
Per Tutti is Italian and means 'for everybody', it opened a couple of years ago serving generic Med food. I went in terror of what this Sunday roast might deliver, but left with an inane smile on my face and my belly as full as a bucket. A full one. I needn't have worried. This was the best dining out Sunday lunch I've had in ages. And big madam, very big. Huge. The roasts cost £13.50 each. The hay baked lamb shoulder - although I couldn't catch the hay thing - was lovely, tender, full-on, very...er...well, lamby. It came with carrots, roasties, swede mash, peas and an exquisitely rich gravy. Yorkshire puddings cost an extra £1 each which to my mind was a bit cheeky. Mind you, they were perfect and big enough for an owl and pussycat to cross the sea with some honey and plenty of money wrapped up in a five pound note. Jonathan Schofield
£13.50 each | Per Tutti | 3-11 Liverpool Road | Castlefield | M3 4NW | 0161 834 9741
PICCOLINO | City Centre
When on the hunt for a booming British Sunday Roast, you’d be forgiven for marching straight past this Italian. But when we asked you for you favourite roasts in and around the city, this Italian proved to be a big favourite. And let us tell you, you were absolutely bob on. Served up in true Italian fashion (to be shared by everybody with fingers) the Sunday Sharing Roast for two (£25) comes with two meats, two Yorkies, greens and a pot of spuds. The four wedges of 28-day-aged limousin cross cattle beef with garlic and thyme were tender and rammed with flavour but outgunned by the star of the show, the roasted herb chicken with lemon and rosemary. As thick as two thumbs and without a hint of dryness, this is the best roast chicken I've had in years, and some of the best service too. Outstanding. But please... more gravy... always more gravy. David Blake
£25 Sunday sharing platter for two | Piccolino | Clarence Street | City Centre | M2 4DWT | 0161 835 9860
SAM'S CHOP HOUSE | City Centre
Choosing between Sunday meats can be a pain in the arse. Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, donkey. Well, Sam's Chop House have it covered, and for only £1.50 extra. Slices of roast beef, roast lamb and slow-roasted pork belly stacked up in the middle with a splash of apple sauce on the pork and a stick of salty crackling. Lovely jubbly. The Sunday meat equivalent of having your cake and eating it. Served with a big, fluffy Yorkshire pud (no dust - which is often a problem with big Yorkies), goose fat roasties, kale and mashed carrot - the best way to serve carrot. Shower red wine gravy over the top, tuck in your bib and get to it. As ever with Sam's the service and the setting set this place apart. One of the city centre's finest Sunday feeds, no question. David Blake
£14 for 'All The Chop House Roasts' | Sam's Chop House | Back Pool Fold (off Cross Street) | City Centre | M2 1HN | 0161 834 3210
TNQ | Northern Quarter
The Northern Quarter (TNQ) is perhaps one of Manchester's most undervalued restaurants. Head Chef Anthony Fielden (formerly top dog at Castlefield's Albert Shed and bloody nice fella) has been serving up top quality modern British nosh in cool, sharp and comfortable surroundings on the corner of High Street and Copperas Street for years now. Their Sunday Roast (£14 for two courses and £17 for three) is also one of most consistent you'll find anywhere in this fair city. A cute, sturdy, rustic ham hock terrine starter was followed up by three perfectly-pink slices of Cheshire rump beef and an army of well-considered trimmings: slighty under-crisped duck fat roasties, honey roasted parsnips, cauliflower cheese (always gets bonus points), cabbage and the best carrot swede mash I've ever tasted. The trick? A drop or two of truffle oil. Noted. Only downer was an overly-pillowy Yorkie pud. Still a winner, mind. David Blake
£14 for two courses and £17 for three | TNQ | 108 High Street | Northern Quarter | M4 1HQ | 0161 832 7115
VOLTA | West Didsbury
West Didsbury’s Volta seems to feed local families like Jesus fed the thousands. Good job that there's more than enough to go around with its Sunday platters. In twos or parties of four the platters come with all the meats (rare breed beef, poussin and roast pork trimmings) potatoes roasted, mashed and chipped (oh my) and a generous portion of veg. It's quite a feed. The poussin, tender and tearing away with little fuss, commanded most of the 'umms' and ‘ahhs’. The make or break, the gravy, added swathes of flavour. You can't right family wrongs with bad gravy, after all. You should probably book a table.
£26.00 for a platter for two | Volta | 167 Burton Road | West Didsbury | M20 2LN | 0161 448 8887
So there you have it, a collection of the region's very best Sunday Roasts. Off you pop then...
This article is part of our 'BEST OF MCR' series including breakfasts, buildings, cheap eats and vintage stores - read them all here