Tag Archives: pub

Oxnoble (Castlefield, Manchester)

30 Nov

by Annabelle Williams

(Just to make you aware, this was a free meal offered by the pub. Wanted to let you know that)
Not being particularly well versed on Georgian potatoes, I had assumed the Oxnoble to be named after some kind of valiant bullock. Clearly, this made more sense when it was explained to us that we were sitting in Potato wharf… ‘but of course’.  Inside, the Oxnoble feels like a ‘proper pub’. There’s a log fire, there’s woods beams, there’s tinsel (?) and there’s also a really warm, convivial atmosphere. Generally lovely.
A 'proper pub' - The Oxnoble

A ‘proper pub’ – The Oxnoble

 
Alex, the manager gave us a brief history on ‘Potato wharf’ and the prominence of that particular spud being sold just over the road, back in the day (1804). It was interesting to hear his vision and how he’s keen to remain true to the pubs roots whilst also offering food that’s a little different (I see you, Pan fried wigeon breast). Also important to the pubs ethos is the ability to source local produce, to which the chef has a pretty free rein, I like that kind of freedom, always have. Alex encouraged us to give genuine feedback on our experience of the meal and so we began….
 
Ham Hock Terrine

Ham Hock Terrine

For the starter we began with a Ham Hock Terrine served with curried chutney. This wouldn’t be something I would normally choose, and infact I didn’t, Nina did. I tried it though, rich, curried, cold. I’m sure well cooked, but not my thing.
 
Pan fried wigeon breast

Pan fried wigeon breast (starter – Specials menu)

The Pan fried wigeon was pretty damn lovely, though the fact  I’ve been unable to get the phrase ‘the cat amongst the Wigeons’ into this review in a clever way feels like a failing. I don’t know how many of you have tried Widgeon before but it’s a little duck, a dabbling duck. To be fair, I chose this dish as it seemed an unlikely starter, but also because it was served with black pudding mash, chocolate red cabbage and green beans and it sounded like it had sass. True enough it was a small bundle of full on flavour and nice to try something I’d not encountered before. Success.
 
I’d just like to stop at this point to acknowledge my confusion over the two menu’s which seemed a little disparate in terms of price point and produce. Whilst I like the philosophy that most people could eat here, I’m not sure if one menu is to the others detriment? The two for £10 (which I think is bloody good value) just feels like a completely different offering than say the Braised venison. Not an issue for me enjoying my meal but potentially making it harder to truly promote whilst it’s being all things to all people. Anyway, on to the mains..
 
Braised venison shank

Braised venison shank (main – Specials menu)

Bearing in mind my plus 1 (hey Nina!) is not often a meat eater I was a little taken aback nay, astounded, that she chose this. As it’s brought out of the kitchen this is the type of dish that commands attention, presented as an imposing structure sat on a bed of bubble and squeak.  I don’t want to have to talk about meat falling off the bone and yet here I am…this isn’t a portion for the faint-hearted though, I would suggest you try and finish it only if perhaps you pursued the deer, caught it with your hands, and broke its spirit over a series of days…
Corn fed chicken breast

Corn fed chicken breast (main – specials)

Never one to shy away from too much meat, I went for the chicken. Nicely cooked, but what stood out was the parmesan and sweetcorn souffle..I know, I know but really, it was light and cheesy with a touch of the sweetcorn cutting through. I have to say that the courgette fritters were disappointing. Not might I add, due to how they were cooked but more to do with the accompanying creme fraiche and sweet chill sauce drowning the crunch and becoming a little cloying. 

 

Chocolate and Hazelnut dessert

Chocolate and Hazelnut terrine (dessert – Specials menu)

Nina and I were split on this one however I was pretty excited to have another terrine that wasn’t made of ham, and found the cherry kirsch to be a nice sour counterpart to the richness of the chocolate.

In summary, despite my turmoil over the double menu the Oxnoble is a cracking pub that I would happily eat in again. I like that there’s not a pub like this on every street corner, I like that the chef’s classically trained and I really like that it serves beautifully cooked food without a hint of pretension. I expect that it continues to be popular, because it’s easy to support a pub like this. Although not hidden away, finding such a place in the city centre which doesn’t feel like the space it inhabits can sometimes be pretty damn precious.
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The pub down the road

24 Nov

“We’re off down the pub for a few pints and some dinner”. That sentence couldn’t be any more English if it was covered in clotted cream and its first name was Nigel.

The pub is a staple of British life, or at least mine. The development of the gastro pub has raised the standard of pub food from the traditional chicken in a basket of years gone by. So the Horse and Jockey on Chorlton Green is no slouch in pairing fine food with fine brews.

Since undergoing a massive overhaul several years ago, the Horse and Jockey has really become a corner stone of the local community. Hosting everything from Farmer’s markets to Bonfire night displays, this pub has also stepped up the food and drink on offer. As well as an extensive drinks selection, the pub now has its own microbrewery producing some tasty beers under the Bootleg Brewing Co. brand.

The food is split into two with the restaurant style menu and the pub menu intertwined. When I popped down with a few friends we took the sensible approach and ordered a few beers and more food than we could sensibly eat. The meal was nearly entirely derailed by the shocking announcement from the bar that there were no Manchester Eggs. Now I assume that a staggering demand for this god-like snack left them egg-less, because to have under-ordered would be bordering on criminal negligence. Anyway, hiccups aside we order our meals and waited.

All starters should be served in slab form

All starters should be served in slab form

The starters arrived first, as is the custom and the envy across the table was palpable. My choice of nachos could not have been more wrong. While the dips were good and the cheese was salty, they were average at best. My girlfriend’s choice of the chipolatas with Coleman’s English mustard couldn’t be a bad call as the sausage meat was great. The best choice by far on the table was the potted ham hock terrine with wholegrain mustard dressing and crusty bread. While I didn’t get to taste it, I’m assured it was good.

Corned beef isn't posh but its 100% class

Corned beef isn't posh but its 100% class

The mains were good, but my really interest was in the classic take of corned beef hash with fried egg and HP sauce. The hearty, meaty texture looked spot on and again the taste (I was told) was good. I would have asked for a bit but my steak and ale pie with fat chips or creamy mash, carrots and peas , a mammoth pie and mash combo capable of filling the gaps in your hunger like concrete filling foundations. It is however a little tastier. The main event for me was the burger. Specifically, the ‘Ultimate Burger’ which towers above puny normal burgers. I have a photo proving that this burger was as big as my girlfriend’s head, but she won’t let me use it, so I’ve done this artist’s impression.

My girlfriend and 'The Ultimate Burger' (To Scale...ish)

All in all, the food was good standard pub fare, but in a pub as long as the food is warming and homely, the beer is cold and crisp and the atmosphere is good, then I’ll happily stay for another pint.