Harley Young gets cosy with quality comfort food at The Edinburgh Castle
You know when you eat a meal and you can’t stop thinking about it for the next few weeks? That’s exactly how I felt about one of the dishes on one of The Edinburgh Castle’s recent menus. Hint: it’s potato-based, like most of my food adorations are. But more on that later.
“There’s no spiel or long faffy words like ‘emulsion’ or ‘glaze’ here. The dishes speak for themselves.”
The Edinburgh Castle stands proudly on the corner of Blossom Street, watching over Cutting Room Square from one of the cobblestone streets that surround it. As you enter through the thick, palm leaf-printed, emerald green curtain that shrouds the doorway, you almost feel like you’re stepping back in time. The 19th-century haunt has towering ceilings and, everywhere you look, there’s candles and old-timey quirk. It’s warm, secretive and suave; almost like a members club that you’ve managed to successfully sneak yourself into.
Upstairs in the dining area you’re greeted by a juxtaposingly sleek and suave decor with tan leather seats and light pine tables.
The Edinburgh Castle’s menu rotates monthly and uses British produce that is sourced ‘as [locally] as possible’. Bread is provided by Pollen bakery - another Ancoats favourite - whilst veg, meat, game and fish come from local farmers and fisherman in the UK. There’s no spiel or long, faffy words like ‘emulsion’ or ‘glaze’ here. The dishes speak for themselves.
We started the evening with rock oysters. If you’d have told 11-year-old me that she’d have been eating oysters again in her 20s, she’d have rolled her eyes and groaned “Yeah, right.” in that cynical and annoying voice that pre-teens master oh so well, and I wouldn’t have blamed her to be honest. An 18-hour coach trip to France in year seven, only to be presented with a tray full of the slimy little suckers on a ‘pebbled’ beach made from their deceased relatives' discarded shells hadn’t left the best impression.
But wow, The Edinburgh Castle sure knows how to present a good oyster. Each mollusc is adorned with rhubarb mignonette and what looked like roe, creating a beautiful pearlescent hue. This dressing was a welcome refreshing and fruity mouthful with a slightly garlicky aftertaste, cutting through the saltiness with a mouthwatering zing. Not quite what I expected from my food nemesis, but in a good way.
Next up was the Pool Hullock Farm broccoli, potato dumplings and egg yolk with sharp shavings of cheese - a dish I can only describe as the sexiest bubble and squeak known to man, no exaggeration. This meal was so comforting, hearty and warming, right to the cockles. Every mouthful was more flavoursome than the last, right until the last morsel, leaving me completely satisfied (if not a little gutted that it was over).
This combination of lovingly-made stodgy goodness made me feel like I was keeping warm in Nana's cottage, out of the clutches of a storm brewing over the cold Scottish Moorland with some good food for comfort. Nuns, look away now as I’m about to use the Lord's name in vain, but, Christ almighty…it was good.
My partner ordered the Wennigbar Farm pork chop - a hefty portion, beautifully dressed and complemented with a side of Farrington’s turnip roasties and a generous slab of beetroot. Though there was plenty of it and it was packed with flavour from the accompanying jus, the pork was a little tough on this occasion which made it difficult to get through.
My other half abandoned the dish after wrestling with it for a while and I could tell that my sexy ‘squeak was being eyed up, so I did what any other loving girlfriend would do and avoided eye-contact and munched it down before he had time to ask.
We partnered our mains with a bowl of F T Sampson kale topped with Garstang blue - a side that unfortunately lacked both dynamism and appearance but made up for it in portion size.
A return visit for a dessert yielded a wonderful crème brûlée (£4) with killer custard and a caramelised sugar crust that almost audibly cracked when pressure was applied.
The Edinburgh Castle is a real showstopper of a pub. In fact, it feels rude to call it one even though their website says so. The vibe is good - especially on an early evening when the buzzy atmosphere begins and the candles are lit to create a mesmeric soft glow. I’ll keep returning whether it be for a pint of Castle ale or to sample the next dish that cradles my tastebuds.
The Edinburgh Castle, 17 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5EP
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.
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.
Rock oysters & rhubarb mignonette 8, Pool Hullock Farm broccoli with potato dumplings and egg yolk 8, Winnigbar farm pork chop & Farrington’s turnip 6, F T Sampson kale & Garstang blue 5.
Friendly and attentive staff who are happy to help.
Snug and welcoming, like a good pub should be.