Neil Sowerby visits an exciting new restaurant owned by a very talented couple
Picture the Savoy Grill, its quartet of Swarovski chandeliers illuminating panelling of gold leaf backed tortoiseshell acrylic. Gordon Ramsay’s name is on the restaurant, the kitchens teeming with his talented brigade. Posh neighbour is the equally iconic Simpson’s in the Strand.
Not since Aumbry has a Manchester neighbourhood restaurant made such an impression
Pan across to one of the bleaker stretches of the A56, sweeping into Sale from Stretford. Distracted by juggernauts, it would be easy to miss The Perfect Match, a 26 cover bistro whose decorative flourishes extend little further than floral stencilling and a cute arch up to the bar and tiny open kitchen. Neighbour here is Garvey’s Irish pub, where we suspect the trad sessions offer more craic than the Strand ever could.
There is a connection between these worlds apart. A case of when Andrea met Jazz. Both were working at the Savoy Grill – Andrea Follador as assistant head sommelier, Jacinta (Jazz) Navin as senior chef de partie. Soon their own match begat the gestation of The Perfect Match – a reference to pairing wine with food. Each dish on the a la carte is accompanied by a suggested match. Serious stuff for Sale. Sold it to me.
Still, location location. Parking’s not the easiest and it’s a ten-minute trek from Sale Metrolink, but nine weeks after opening, in that bleary period immediately after New Year, and the PM (this place, not that shyster holed up in Mustique) is sailing along nicely. When word gets round what a brilliant addition to the Manchester dining scene this is it should go down a Perfect Storm.
Any Veganuary urges were shoved on the back burner at the prospect of herb roasted rack of lamb for two (£44) sourced from the Butcher’s Block in Poynton, recently named the UK’s ‘New Butchery Business of the Year.’ With produce this amazing you see why.
Jazz did it justice, roasting it the tenderest of pinks in a herb crust, the fat crisp but also softly chewable. Accompanying roast new potatoes shared the judicious use of salt to properly enhance flavour. Please remember: it’s only concealed salt and sugar overload in convenience foods that is truly bad. A few salad leaves and simply perfect.
My companion is on a Dry January kick so stuck to Harrogate sparkling water. The rack for two normally comes with a half bottle of Southern Italian Aglianico red; instead, Andrea substituted a glass of Gerard Bertrand’s smooth and spicy Syrah ‘Naturalys’ from the Languedoc.
A perfect match? Definitely, but even more perfect was an organic, seafood-friendly Vermentino white from Meloni in Sardinia (£8) with our ‘secondi’ platter.
To accommodate the lamb we split another main, a seafood squid ink linguine (£14), into two. Offering a couple of firm, sweet scallops each and ample squid, the linguine made a perfect foil for that fruity Vermentino, vividly aromatic with a surprising body belying its pale straw hue.
Italy is the bedrock of Andrea’s wine knowledge. Four generations of his family have made ‘proper’ Prosecco in Valdobbiadene north of Venice, source of the highest designation (DOCG) sparklers. Not the filthy stuff aimed at our bladdered hen parties.
Hence I had every faith in the Sorelli Chianti (£7.50), another bio wine, he paired with my starter. He had reassured me that his fellow countrymen would not scoff at two pastas in a meal and the rabbit ragu on pappardelle was not to be missed (£7). It was quite magnificent, tangles of slow-cooked bunny, slightly peppery, dotted with sage adding an addictive pineyness. The red, light-bodied for a Chianti, was suitably supple, with soft fruit yet a bright acidity.
Maybe it met its match (sic) with my Dry January mate’s mushroom broth (£6.50) - challenging porcini meets umami in a bowl, although the promised crispy leek topping quickly goes soggy. The suggested match for this was a Chilean Pinot Noir. Would have been interesting to discover if the pair had found earthy common ground.
I presume such vinous speculation is an aim, but Jazz’s food is reason enough to brave Cross Street. A Manc, who worked in The Midland kitchens from her mid-teens, she has absorbed much from a career that took her from The Savoy to another Ramsay-backed project, The Typing Room in Bethnal Green - possibly the best London restaurant never to earn a Michelin star - then Hawksmoor Borough.
Her command of technique shows in desserts, so often a letdown in what is ostensibly a neighbourhood restaurant. Creme caramel I rarely order. More fool me when it is this wobbly and wonderful for just £6. Not forgetting an Andrea input, a toasty glass of Castelnau de Suduiraut 2008 (£5.50 for the second wine of the Grand Cru Classé Château). A choco-orange mousse was equally simple and delightful for the same price as the creme caramel.
What was impressive about the whole dinner was this kind of accomplished consistency in a miniscule operation. After service Jazz and Andrea retreat to their flat upstairs which, like the restaurant and kitchen, they renovated from scratch before opening. Not since Aumbry has a Manchester neighbourhood restaurant made such an impression. 2020 could be its perfect year.
The Perfect Match, 103 Cross St, Sale, Manchester, M33 7JN. 0161 204 3665.
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.
Food and drink
Mushroom broth 8, rabbit ragu 9, seafood linguine 8, rack of lamb 10, creme caramel 8, orange chocolate mousse 8
Serious wine advice if you seek it but not intimidating
Who needs chandelier chic when you’ve got the buzz of a brave new venture?