Jonathan Schofield reckons he's found a pudding to rival his mums
Allotment has usually kept a good ale or two. I’ve frequently stopped off for a pint and then moved on. With the collaboration of HerdNQ in the kitchen the place is now worth an extended visit. And then a repeat visit. Perhaps over time one could achieve herd immunity, but at the moment it’s just what the doctor ordered.
Simply told: this is cracking modern British food. There’s no flop of a dish and everything we ate was above average.
The crumble was straight from the table of an eighteenth century costume drama, all sweetness and bite
There are no starters as such, just a brace of nibbles; olives or (our choice) sourdough with bone marrow butter at £4. Bone marrow butter is possibly the fattiest thing imaginable, but my, it’s lovely ladled onto the bread as though plastering a wall.The bread comes from local bakers Pollen who seem to have cornered the Manchester sourdough market. Great start this.
For mains we had mackerel and ribeye steak. The £14 mackerel gave that particular oily fish kick that makes you feel you can actually hear your brain expanding with Omega 3. The generous portion of fish came with hazelnuts, beetroot, shallots and some horseradish cream which all worked well, especially the nuts - nice touch that with such a strongly flavoured fish as mackerel.
The ribeye at £20 was a beautiful cut, succulent almost lush, with cracking bite. It was asked for medium rare and couldn’t have been better timed. A green peppercorn sauce kept the flavours coming.
There are other cuts available rump, sirloin and T-bone, all 30-day aged. There are burgers and other mains such as chicken supreme, steak and ale pie and braised celeriac. I felt we had chosen wisely.
A side of truffle mash (£4) was fluffy and excellent with the steak. Better again was Savoy cabbage with bacon crumbs (£4) featuring a return of the bone marrow butter. I’m going to use that recipe for Savoy cabbage back at base.
The dessert maintained the quality. This was spiced plum crumble with clotted cream at £6. It was a recipe straight from the table of an eighteenth century costume drama, all sweetness and bite, gloriously rich and comforting too. The fact Allotment sits inside a former Georgian townhouse on Dale Street seems apt. Elizabeth Raffald, the Manchester cook who published the Experienced English Housekeeper in 1769, one of the first mass popular recipe books in English, would have approved of the dessert. More to the point my late mother who was the greatest crumble cook in world history would have approved.
I loved this meal, it was lovely to have excellently prepared, cooked and presented British food. The service was efficient, the surroundings decent enough with that odd Allotment combination of planks, fairy lights, plants and air con pipes. The lighting was just at the right level for an evening meal. The food made the occasion though, I just fervently want the kitchen team to maintain that standard.
HerdNQ, 24 Dale St, Manchester, M1 1FY. 07904 592568
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself
Sourdough 7.5, ribeye 8, mackerel 7.5, cabbage 7.5, mash 7, crumble 8
Straightforward and efficient
Bright and lively