ANCOATS has always been five years away. 

In 2000 it was five years from seeing real rejuvenation, in 2005 it was the same and again in 2010. Now it seems the worm has turned and the Ancoats of the future is turning into a present reality. New apartment developments are being mooted or have started on site clumped around the total success of the Halle St Peter's project and the very fine Cutting Room Square, the latter designed by Dan Dubowitz. 

The menu reflects the suburb well, full of hearty fare

The built bones are strong in this part of Manchester characterised in particular by the mills between Redhill and Jersey Streets. Cutting Room Cafe and Bar has something of those robust characteristics about it and celebrates the fact with a representation of the McConnel and Kennedy complex of factories around the corner. Outside its plain, inside Cutting Room Cafe has a homely interior with a kitchen above the bar on a mezzanine. 

The menuThe sturdy menu 

The menu reflects the suburb well. It's full of hearty fare including braised shins of beef, chicken pot pie, bangers and mash, chorizo and olive stew. This might imply clumsiness rather than sophistication but the Louisiana sandwich (£6) gave the lie to that. This was a thing of beauty. Chicken, bacon, cajun mayonnaise and the juiciest plum tomatoes combining to deliver a real flavour punch. The mayonnaise here was the key adding a real note of quality and softening the wholemeal bread. I could have eaten two of these lovely things. 

To perk the situation up a little more I had a side of creamed mashed potato (£2) which was another success. I don't understand why restaurants and cafes are so rubbish generally when it comes to mash. Done properly that simple recipe is a bright moment in a dark world. This mash had perfect texture and a fine creamy buttery quality. I could have had two of them as well. 

Inside the Cutting RoomInside the Cutting Room Cafe and Bar

A chocolate cake (£2.50) also clearly homemade was good too, again light rather than heavy, perhaps needing a little more character. It seemed to be the only sweet thing on offer on my visit which was a shame, more choice is needed in that area. A good navvy-sized cup of tea helped close things off. On a previous visit I'd had a pint of Amstel. There's a range of craft bottle beers and wines too of course. I'd like to see a handpump for ale on the bar too.

A light success of chocolateA light success of chocolate

Despite the tiny scale of the place, Cutting Room Cafe and Bar puts on music occasionally and there's also a regular quiz night on Wednesdays.

There's a community building in Ancoats and community needs amenity. Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza place has opened across the square, the Cutting Room Cafe and Bar people aim to open another venue, this time a full restaurant next door to Rudy's in 2016. There's a busy shop as well. The life is returning to Ancoats and the prospects are looking good. I expect the next five years to deliver a fine reality and not just another series of delays and potentials. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+ 

Cutting Room Cafe and Bar, 9 Blossom Street, Ancoats. M4 6AJ

Rating: 14/20

Food: 7/10 (Louisiana 7, mash 7.5, cake 6)
Service: 3.5/5  
Ambience: 3.5/5 

PLEASE NOTE: Remember venues are rated against the best examples of their type. All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commerical relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing, 14-15 worth a trip, 16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.
Cutting Room Cafe and BarCutting Room Cafe and Bar, the square and Halle St Peter's
The mills of AncoatsThe mills of Ancoats
The mashThe mash
The LouisianaThe Louisiana
The view out from inThe view out from in