New lunches, five course 'Aumbry'-style tasters, wines on cask and a zero waste policy
There’s now a brand new approach at The Creameries.
They've done away with the small plates and emphasis on bread and nibbling. Highly acclaimed chef Mary Ellen McTague is now back at the helm and has introduced a new lunch menu, a range of bar snacks and a weekly-changing, inventive and seasonally focused set menu at £35.
McTague has a deeper understanding of zero waste and how to make every last morsel count
If you ever went to Mary Ellen's previous restaurant, Aumbry, in Prestwich, and still hanker after some of that magic, this new approach invites whispers of Aumbry #2 - except it’s more accessible in terms of price, location and formality.
The dining room at the Creameries is a strangely appealing combination of stark grey walls and a rough concrete floor with twisting vines dangling above the understated wooden tables. These are topped with unusual shrub cuttings and chunky and skinny white candles in classic black vessels. Leafy plants overflow from black hanging satchels.
It’s chic and modern but with a pagan spirit, which complements McTague’s well-documented geeky penchant for historical dishes that she brings up to date with a seemingly effortless knack.
Snacks might include skinny, fried potato chips - like middle-class Pomsticks flavoured with dehydrated lime pickle, or un-photogenic split pea fritters with black mushroom ketchup - a jenga stack of mahogany chips that give way to a pistachio coloured and meltingly luscious interior (read more about those here). The skill involved in keeping those sharp edges keen while the innards stay soft is not to be underestimated.
The Creameries is no longer the fully functioning bakery it was originally set up to be, but the accompanying sourdough is a springy joy and served with McTague’s signature whipped and cultured butters with a texture like marshmallow fluff and a flavour that is somewhere between salted caramel and ripe soft cheese.
On one recent visit we were also given goat dripping to dip which, as unappealing as it sounds, had us stunned into greedy silence.
Appropriately enough, dairy is a running theme with unusual cheeses popping up in unexpected places, like a rivulet of Cais na Tire in a hollowed out cucumber topped with pink slices of pigeon or a killeen goats cheese dumpling wallowing in a bowl of indecently buttery squash or marrow soup - depending on what’s in season that week.
But you can - and should - also have a supplementary cheese course before or after dessert (£9). Carefully selected slivers (from Courtyard Dairy near Lancaster) served with homemade crackers and quenelles of inspired chutneys, like ones we tried made with burnt cabbage or quince.
Mains might include proper Northern pies, the pastry alone worth a sonnet. There’s a seasonal game option - perhaps pigeon or pheasant - or for veggies a butter pie - criminally unheard of outside of Lancashire - or a beetroot one.
Cavolo nero features heavily in one menu, which is no bad thing - a perfect iron rich green veg appearing as pickled stems among the intro snacks and then nestled into a liver parfait-lined pastry case and topped with slices of pheasant later on.
Which brings us to a key point. Having previously been a co-pilot at the Real Junk Food Project on Oxford Road, which aimed to take perfectly edible food that would have gone to waste and conjure it into hearty meals served on a pay-as-you-feel basis, McTague has a deeper understanding of zero waste and how to make every last morsel count.
This along with her experience in Michelin starred kitchens where nose-to-tail is a key concept and an obsession with ancient recipes where a lack of refrigeration - or abundance - meant that everything had to be used. It all adds up to a canny ability to weave magic from the bits others might frivolously chuck.
Desserts might be a light but perfectly formed millefeuille of pastry sandwiching a ‘pupton’ of Bramley apple and whey caramel with a splodge of wobbly Pedro Ximenez jelly on the side, or a hazelnut and rosemary semifreddo with hazelnut and cocoa brittle.
A list of natural and low intervention wines has been curated by restaurant manager and sommelier Kim McBride, formerly of erst in Ancoats, who previously worked for Mary Ellen at Aumbry in Prestwich. Some of the wines come from casks rather than bottles which is in line with their sustainability ethos. If they liked it at dinner, diners can pay a deposit on litre and half litre bottles of wine to take home. Interesting wines are also available to take away in cans (from £13.50).
Supper is served Wednesday to Saturday from 6–9pm, and lunch from 12-2.30pm, Wednesday to Sunday. The Creameries is closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Sunday evenings. Tables can be booked via the website and ResDiary.
The Creameries, 406 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 0SD.
Tel: 0161 312 8328