Harley Young enjoys a warming meal a short amble away from the office
Where: Old Bank Street, St Ann’s Square
Food/drink type: Hearty British classics
When: Monday to Saturday 10am to 8:30pm, Sunday 10am to 7pm
Independent or chain: Independent
Like your nan’s front room, Annie’s feels inviting and familiar. The ground floor reception area is carved out with high armchairs and coffee tables. It’s like a piece of untouched history from a few decades ago.
I headed downstairs towards the main restaurant and bar and was greeted with a warm smile before being seated in the dining area. My office wife Georgie and I commented on how cosy it felt as we reminisced on fond memories of Saturdays spent with grandparents, being taken out for lunch as a treat before heading back home in time for lazy afternoon TV. A homely venue without any of the gimmick you might get from chain restaurants playing on the notion of a grandmother’s den.
The main event
After reading the menu, we knew that some proper homely, hearty grub was in store for us. The cocktail menu didn’t look too bad either and we were swayed into choosing a ‘Soap Star Martini’ and an ‘Annie’s fizz’. The Soap Star Martini was similar to that of a Pornstar and the Annie’s fizz had a cherry base - both came very well presented with garnishes.
I chose the beer battered North Sea haddock served with mushy peas, hand-cut chunky chips and tartar sauce (fish and chips between me and you). It was a whopper of a haddock fried until golden brown and perfectly crispy - no soggy batter here.
The chips were exactly like the ones you’d get from your local seaside hole in the wall. No two were the same shape or size (a telltale sign of bought-in chips that have been lobbed into a fryer and cooked to within an inch of their life) and they even had that slightly shrivelled edge that you only get from the chippy. Spot on. The tartar sauce was full of flavour and in abundance, served next to a generous dollop of mushy peas, of which went down nicely.
Georgie chose the halloumi salad. This wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill halloumi salad mind, it was made with a nut free pesto which is a rarity - especially for small independents like this one. It shows that no expense is spared and no dietary requirements are forgotten about when it comes to making good quality food at Annie’s. The large slabs of halloumi balanced on top of the fresh, colourful salad were nicely browned without verging on overcooked and the dressing added just enough moisture and bite to not overpower or drown the dish.
For dessert, I chose an old favourite - jam roly poly. I’ve not had a jam roly poly in about a decade and a half. Which is surprising actually, as, when I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough of it. About once a fortnight we’d be given it as a pudding at school and I’d wolf it down, scraping the plate to get the last remnants of strawberry jam and custard.
Those childhood memories came flooding back in the form of a very rustic and festive-looking pud. Served with hot custard, a generous dollop of extra jam and a light dusting of icing sugar, this traditional British dish had me craving a cosy armchair in front of a log fire.
Georgie finished her meal with the chocolate honeycomb cheesecake served with vanilla ice cream. An equally delicious and well presented dish that had all the elements of an indulgent dessert without being too sickly.
Annie’s is an affordable and friendly spot with hearty, homely cooking and a team of staff who make you feel at ease. Ideal for families, older couples and those looking for a substantial lunch, this is one restaurant I’d definitely feel comfortable visiting again.
Annie’s, 5 Old Bank St, Manchester M2 7PE