Casual dining, young exuberance and a new neighbourhood hangout
“We wanted to step away from what was perceived at The Hungry Duck which was a little bit snooty, a little bit pretentious and overpriced. We wanted to step away from that to become more relaxed and casual,” says Tom Morgan, Head Chef at Colleen’s in Ramsbottom.
Long story short The Hungry Duck is no more. After the former owner went bankrupt, the company insolvent and the staff redundant, a new lease opportunity arose and Colleen’s has taken over the spot. New owners head chef Tom Morgan and manager Ellen Cunningham, both formerly of The Hungry Duck, were quick to snap up the opportunity and emphasis is on the new. New look, new menu, new way of working.
We’re not making a point to say we only use things from an X amount radius but we do what makes sense
Further good news is they were able to keep most of their previous staff which Tom and Ellen both see as a bonus, especially in the current staffing climate. Now officially open, Colleen’s is keen to forge its own path.
A new approach in Ramsbottom
Tom Morgan is excited to bring a new approach to the cooking at Colleen’s. A regime change means no more sticky toffee pudding and full control of what goes on the menu. Control over the finances meanwhile means pushing the boat out for better ingredients and trying new things too. A brunch menu is now available and casual dining is at the forefront of what Colleen’s is about.
Local produce comes as standard. Meat and fish from Bury Market picked up in the morning. Fruit and veg from local grocers Noone’s. Wine comes courtesy of current Pollard Yard resident Le Social and cheese comes from Manchester-based lactose enthusiast The Crafty Cheeseman.
“We not shouting about it. We’re not making a point to say we only use things from an X amount radius but we do what makes sense. If there’s a company in Manchester, we use it. There’s a market down the road. It makes total sense,” Tom says.
The resulting menu is contemporary British. Ingredient-led, seasonal food with a menu that changes according to what Tom can get from the market that morning. Seasonal change is on the horizon as we speak, so Tom has lamb, asparagus, peas and broad beans on the brain. He’s always thinking a month ahead.
“We just put a new mussel dish on the menu. Mussels with saffron mayonnaise and almond and sourdough crumbs. That’s pretty nice. We do a cherry soufflé. Mascarpone, cherry, ice cream. I like to always have a soufflé on the menu. I don’t know many little neighbourhood restaurants you go to where you get a soufflé on the menu but it’s quite nice when you pull it off.”
Elsewhere on the menu eyes will no doubt be drawn to steak, chips and béarnaise for a robust lunch, a classic carried over from the Duck, whilst the cheese croquettes come personally recommended by both Ellen and Tom.
“The Sunday roast offering as well," Tom says, "Just because it’s a Sunday roast, we don’t scrimp. It’s all homemade, sauces made from chicken stocks and bones. Everything cooked to order. A great big piece of meat waiting to be carved,” he adds.
Ambitions, the local scene and a kinder way of working
So far the reception has been great. A few grumbles but that’s natural when people are presented with change. Everyone that has actually been so far has spoken positively, Tom tells me. Opening weekend reviews came with praise and there’s an excitement for what’s going to happen as word spreads.
Colleen’s joins an impressive Ramsbottom dining scene and both Tom and Ellen speak fondly of their neighbours. There’s a sense of wanting to attract people to the area as well as playing a part in it.
“We never see anywhere as competition. We want to work together and recommend other places to our customers. We have a really good relationship with Ramsbottom Social up the road.” Ellen says.
The team at Colleen's is notably young. The age peaks at 28 and there's an excitement surrounding the staff that have been retained from the previous venture. Ellen highlights the importance of the lessons learned from the previous ownership and how Colleen's will be a kinder place to work. Staff are earning more.
Long-term ambitions lie in community integration and attracting a range of diners. Both Ellen and Tom talk about a restaurant whereby you can walk past your customers in the street on a friendly first-name basis. They also hope it will be a go-to restaurant for people, a Saturday night tradition, the monthly treat for people travelling from near and far.
“Keeping hold of all of the staff we have now in a year’s time would be great. Going forward we want to keep moving on, employ more people and be able to support more people locally be it suppliers, employment or some charity work.” Tom says.
As if you didn't need any more reasons to visit Ramsbottom. Colleen's has just given you another.
Colleen's, 76 Bridge St, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 9AG
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