I’d seen Grenache restaurant bandied about in various lists of Manchester’s best restaurants. Grenache restaurant is located off the beaten track in Walkden (close to Salford). To be honest, other than Grenache restaurant there really isn’t much reason to go there. Sadly I was only in the area because I was visiting my mum down the road in St Ann’s Hospice in Little Hulton.
I’m glad I called to book a table as it was a Saturday night and Grenache restaurant was fully booked. Our table for two was located right by the bar. As soon as we sat down one of the owners, Lindsey, came over. She was very helpful, without being too in your face. Lindsey talked us through the house wines, explaining that she had chosen them because she wanted to have a nice house wine even though it cost her more to buy it. She also noticed we had a wonky table and sent someone over to sort it out straight away.
What I liked about Grenache restaurant was that despite it being one of Manchester’s best restaurants there was no pomp or ceremony. The inside of Grenache restaurant reminded me of someone’s house. It felt as if we were sitting in the front room in this cosy neighbourhood restaurant and the tables on the other side of the space, which was quite separate, was the dining room. The rooms were divided by a flight of wooden stairs by the entrance that led upstairs to a bar.
The waiting staff were friendly and accommodating. When I explained that I don’t eat meat or shellfish they checked with the chef and said they could make a special sauce, without chorizo, to accompany my cod. I was told it may affect the balance of flavours in the dishes. I was prepared to take the risk. The other owner also came over to our table to apologise for the delay in service and gave us an ETA of when we could expect our starters.
Fortunately in the interim we had been sidetracked by an amuse-bouche of a vodka martini with lime granita, complete with an olive at the bottom of the glass. I was gutted as I couldn’t eat mine (it had jelly in it) but Sharps delighted in its freshness. I’d opted for the chef’s signature dish of warm mackerel with beetroot, blood orange and goat’s cheese to start. I was in two minds as to whether it sounded bit odd. But the combination of textures worked well together. The citrusy zest of the orange offset the creaminess of the cheese so it didn’t overpower the sweet slithers of al dente beetroot and warm fish. Sharps went for a tried and tested favourite of scallops. As we were in North Manchester the generous sized portion came with Bury black pudding (which he described as pâté-like in texture), sweet pea shoots and slightly salty parma ham.
My food envy reared its ugly head though when it came to the mains. But to be fair I had been warned. Sharps was presented with two huge slabs of medium-rare lamb, accompanied by a deep, thick, jammy beetroot purée and served with carrots, kale and hotpot potato (a stack of potato kind of a cross between dauphinoise and roast) cooked with meat and rosemary. The owner of Grenache restaurant had boldly declared the potato the star of the plate as well as the locally sourced lamb as being the best in the world. Sharps said it was pretty close.
Then came a surprise of a pre-dessert of mini chocolate eclairs. Again I was thwarted as I don’t like cream (or choux pastry) meaning Sharps tucked into both. I can only assume from him closing his eyes, the mming noises and saying ‘naughty but nice’ they were pretty good as they disappeared within seconds. Sharps also managed to fit dessert in at the Grenache restaurant. A chocolate fondant which could easily have been too rich was served with a tangy pineapple sorbet in a crispy sesame seed and sugar case, topped with a pineapple crisp which I could have happily eaten by itself. I wish my visit to Grenache restaurant had been under better circumstances. But its relaxed atmosphere and good food was a more than welcome distraction.
I wouldn’t have ventured to this hidden gem if it hadn’t been so close to St Ann’s Hospice in Little Hulton. I am forever indebted to the staff there for the care and compassion they showed to my mum. But for them to be able to continue helping others they desperately need funding. Here’s how you can make a donation.