We asked our food writers where they head for a tip-top Sunday roast. Here's what they said...
Ok, so we might be approaching summer, but on the off-chance that we’re not going to be enjoying three solid months of barbecue weather, we thought we'd better publish this latest batch of best Sunday roasts and be damned!
Over the past few months Confidential hath scattered its food writers far and wide (well, we have been to Wiswell) so that they may report back with tales of teetering piles of Yorkshire puds, seas of gravy and mounds of moo.
Below you'll find a dozen of our favourite Sunday roasts in Manchester and beyond...
Beef comes delivered draped across the roast potatoes, guarded by a large individual Yorkshire, which was of the healthy light variety. Gordo likes them a bit more ‘cakey’, though this was very nicely crisp on the ridge and well seasoned. Cabbage was cute, gravy verging onto the ‘gorgeous Northern’ variety with plenty more delivered on request. The topside beef was one of Chorlton butcher Frosty's best and delivered pink by the excellent kitchen team. Though Gordo would like to see the potatoes given more time (one warning: choose other dishes carefully as some can be Elizabethan in their complexity - a couple of coal miners would have problems finishing the belly pork stuffed with everything Drake brought back from his travels). Mark Garner
Hispi, 1C School Lane, Didsbury , M20 6RD Tel: 0161 445 3996
The bar is set high at the top ranking pub in the Good Food Guide 2017 and chef/proprietor Steven Smith certainly delivers. Sourcing of the sirloin pays homage to a past culinary beacon in the Ribble Valley. John Penny and son Tim supplied meat to Paul Heathcote’s two Michelin starred flagship in Longridge (they are profiled in Matthew Fort’s groundbreaking book on the chef, Rhubarb and Black Pudding.) They provide the 60 day dry aged joints from Angus/Herefordshire cross stock in reared in Nidderdale and Smith does the rest.
Consistently roseate inside its seared crust, it’s a thing of beauty on the plate; rich beef juices seeping into a tower of a Yorkshire pud, a slick of undisclosed pumpkin purée sharing the plate with crisp duck fat potatoes, carrot and green beans. Unctuous cauliflower cheese comes in a separate skillet. On the Simple Sunday a la carte it costs £19.95 but it’s best ordered from the £25 three course set menu, one of the region’s great Sabbath bargains. Neil Sowerby
Freemasons, 8 Vicarage Fold, Wiswell nr Whalley, BB7 9DF Tel: 01254 822 218
Hawksmoor, City Centre
When London-based steakhouse Hawksmoor announced an upcoming move to New York City – spiritual home of the steakhouse – there were more than a few raised eyebrows (what’s that about selling snow to the Eskimos?). Not only that, but Hawksmoor founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott are supposedly hoping to educate the Yanko-Doodlies in the Sunday ritual of the roast (how they intend to justify the need for Yorkshire puds is anyone's guess). Still, if anyone is to cross the Atlantic as standard-bearers of this most British institution, then it should be Hawksmoor – purveyors of the best Sunday roast in the city. Here you’ll find a 50-day aged (or was that 35? 70? Does anyone actually care?) slow roast rump as thick as a prop forward's neck, started on the coals and finished in the oven, with crispy-out fluffy-in duck fat roasties, buttered greens, buttered carrots, buttered Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy with buttered bone marrow butter. At £20 it’s not cheap, but then nothing at Hawksmoor is… they’ve got a hefty butter bill to pay, you see. David Blake
Hawksmoor, 184-186 Deansgate, M3 3WB Tel: 0161 836 6980
Sam’s Chophouse, City Centre
Usually, I’m a beef kind of girl but Sam’s have really turned me onto chicken. I have no idea how they get it so moist, or what’s in the slices of rib-sticking stuffing on top. Even the skin is perfect: a kind of edible cellophane with gooey edges that melts in the mouth. The potatoes have crisp outer layer so thick it’s rude and each plate is topped with a Yorkshire the size of a crown. Paired with Chantenay carrots and a smattering of greens, this is the regal deal. Ruth Allan
Sam’s Chop House, Back Pool Fold, M2 1HN. Tel: 0161 834 3210
Evelyn’s Cafe Bar, Northern Quarter
As a whole, the Sunday roasts at Evelyn’s are hearty and relatively healthy fare. Choose from beef sirloin with a giant, crisp Yorkshire pudding, medium-rare leg of lamb, free range chicken, baked salmon or root vegetable and goats’ cheese puff.
All have been lovingly prepared; mustard rubbed, infused with herbs, tickled with garlic and chilli or baked with aromatic vegetables which bring out their best characteristics. As well as a generous portion of the main event, Evelyn’s make sure you are getting more than your five-a-day with an abundance of brightly coloured and lightly cooked vegetables overflowing from your plate. Sensibly, these have been treated in a respectfully straight forward manner. I counted roast carrots, mashed swede, blanched kale, Savoy cabbage, halved sprouts, broccoli florets, parsnips and roast potatoes. Not one of them was soggy, overcooked or unloved. However, I’m yet to find a chef that can make a roast potato in a restaurant taste anywhere near as good as ones made at home. Deanna Thomas
Evelyn’s Cafe Bar, G18 Smithfield Building, Tib St, M4 1NB
Harvey Nichols, City Centre
Topside. Not Gordo’s favourite beef joint for roasting. It can be dry and tough, sometimes lacking in flavour due to the absence of fat. A bruiser of a beef rib joint, however, with bone in and fat running through, tough, chewy and crispy in parts, melting and tender in others, gets Fatty at it.
For Sunday lunch at HN it's topside. At £13, it certainly looked value, a huge Yorkshire filled by good looking roasties, a mound of carrot slices, sweet and melting, along with a bunch of fresh crispy greens with kale holding everything up, bathed in a creamy splash of its own tasty white gravy.
It’s great. It turns out the topside got an ultra slow roast making it tender, pink, juicy and full of beefy flavour. Nice one chef. But don’t let’s get all hipster by planting the gravy boat in the middle of the plate, eh? On the side please. Decorum, we are in Harvey Nichols after all. Mark Garner
Harvey Nichols, 21 Cathedral Approach, M1 1AD Tel: 0161 828 8898
Gray’s Larder, Chorlton
Currently closed - due to reopen this summer.
Two Yorkshire puddings. That tells you all you need to know about the generosity and loveliness of Sunday lunches at Gray's Larder. Most places only serve the hallowed pud with roast beef and even then it's a solitary affair; often dry and dusty, having just escaped from the confinement of the deep-freeze, but at Gray's Larder it's Yorkies with everything. Two towering puddings, crisp and golden brown at the top yet soft and fluffy at the bottom – I'm still in a good mood just thinking about it. Even gluten free bods don't have to miss out; you can order specially-made gluten free Yorkshire pud which isn't something you see on many menus. Jo Milligan
Gray’s Larder, 123 Manchester Rd, Manchester M21 9PG Tel: 0161 286 1961
The Refuge, City Centre
It’s becoming clichéd to bang on about how great the Refuge is, isn’t it? Yet their Sunday sharing roast for two (or one in the case of our editor) has me at it again. Feast your eyes on a smorgasbord of roasted meats, Chantenay carrots, sticky red cabbage, crispy roasties and cauliflower cheese, baked to order. Staff buzz back and forth asking if you’d like more gravy, roast potatoes or whatever. But whether you can manage a second Yorkshire as big as the marshmallow man from the end of Ghostbusters is another question. From sticky roast pork to wafer-thin rare Dexter beef and spatchcock chicken with a fabulously crisp skin, the meat is faultless. As, incidentally, is the volcanically spicy Bloody Mary, served in a cauldron-sized wine glass on the side. Ruth Allan
The Refuge, Oxford Street, Manchester M60 7HA. Tel: 0161 233 5151
After Parlour won the Observer Food Monthly Best Sunday Roast award in 2012 (placing runner up in the years that followed), you might be forgiven for thinking a wee bit of laurel-resting could occur. One sign that Parlour still has it is that even on busy Beech Road, anxious Chorltonites hover outside its door waiting for the clock to tick from 11.59am to 12 noon on a Sunday.
The key to Parlour’s success is simplicity and military-level organisation. A Sunday service consists of roasts and more roasts, thick slices of finest topside of beef or pork loin (the former as pink as Barbie’s knick-knocks, the latter served with decent crackling) or a by-all-accounts decent nut roast with all the usual trimmings.
Carbs are the thing here - it may offend some purists but mash spuds as well as roast tatties are served - all the better to soak up that gravy. Show-off massive Yorkshire puds float on top of all the roasts, not just beef, and the veg is a good selection; a tangle of Savoy cabbage, garlic and spring onion on my visit - plus slow-roasted carrots or other seasonal roots. It’s worth sharpening your elbows for. Lucy Tomlinson
The Parlour, 60 Beech Rd, Chorlton, M21 9EG Tel: 0161 881 4871
Grand Pacific, City Centre
The new kid on the block... well maybe not that new, Gordo was in there when it had been re-opened by the redoubtable Francis Carroll and his brother Bernard as The Reform. One of Gordo's best evenings there was when an old married friend took him into the kitchen and showed him her new breasts. Today it’s still about breasts, but chicken’s, served as part of Grand Pacific’s Sunday roast. Gordo can’t confirm whether they’re as impressive as Mrs. X’s because he had the roast beef instead.
Grand Pacific has been given a new interior (inspired by Raffles in Singapore) and is lovely. The roast beef is too. Topside is treated with due care and attention, the roast potatoes are well seasoned and crispy as is the Yorkshire pudding and buttery mash. Veg are crunchy n’all, which Grumpy likes. And the gravy? Dead lush thick Northern stuff. The pomp and circumstance surrounding the occasion (it’s served on a trolley. Oh yes!) makes it easily the best for presentation in Manchester. Mark Garner
Grand Pacific, 50 Spring Gardens, King Street, M2 1EN Tel: 0161 839 9365
Albert’s Schloss, City Centre
It was only a matter of time before the self-styled ‘Bohemian pleasure palace’ gave us the pleasure of a Sunday roast. After all, the rest of the Trof empire has been celebrated for its Sabbath take on topside with all the trimmings. The beef offering here during Sunday Service is uncannily similar to Gorilla’s, albeit a quid dearer; 28 day dry aged, 15 hour slow roasted topside of Lancashire beef; ample portion, thinly sliced. I’d have preferred it a tad pinker, but it was tender and tasty with crisp roasties, a slick of carrot puree, al dente greens and a soft pillow of Yorkshire pud inundated with gravy.
Horseradish and apple sauce was on the anaemic side. Balm came from an irresistible side of cauliflower cheese that cost extra. All this, or alternatively a gorgeous rack of pork cutlet that seems more fittingly teutonic, are served until 10pm every Sunday; from 2pm-4pm you get a gospel choir accompaniment, too. Hallelujah, as Leonard Cohen might have said. Neil Sowerby
Albert’s Schloss,27 Peter Street, M2 5RQ Tel: 0161 833 4040
Like that? Sure you did. Find more in our 'Best of Manchester' section.