The Mark Addy, Salford
Update 17-02-14: Sadly The Mark Addy recently closed for business – hopefully someone will see its potential and take over in time for summer BBQs on the canal…
Ever since reading Jay Rayner’s Observer review somebody close to me has been itching to get to the Mark Addy at Salford. Even before converting from sixteen years of vegetarianism, I sensed the menu at the entrance to the canalside diner with its seasonally sought meat, unusual cuts and intriguing offal offerings would be enough to turn him. But it was a good year and a half before we got anywhere near to the ‘tripe, faggots (and) hogget’ Rayner wrote about so beguilingly.
As we approached the restaurant I could see it twinkling beneath Albert Bridge and after a walk through Manchester – cheerful lights already heralding Christmas, it seemed festive and inviting. Inside the restaurant it was not at all festive and quite rightly too, it was only mid-November after all; but it was certainly welcoming with dim lighting and candlelit tables. We sat by the window and were joined by a bevy of ducks playing chase with Salford’s lights dappled across the water. I momentarily hoped that duck wasn’t on the menu.
Chef Robert Owen Brown was sat at another table joined by the occasional member of staff and it seemed as if he was our own personal chef – it was only just after 5pm and no-one else was dining yet, but we were very glad to find the kitchen open.
The best aspect, and really it is – apart from the food – is the laid back air of the Mark Addy. Despite the reputation and the reviews, shabby carpets, relaxed but attentive staff and cosy booths amongst the brick alcoves make for an environment where you would happily stay all evening drinking, dining or a combination of both. The bar and restaurant certainly offer plenty of reasonably priced snacks and side orders to keep you interested over a bottle of their also reasonably priced wine; or one of a selection of real ales, including beers from local micro-breweries (says the very helpful website).
Bar snacks include: Blacksticks Blue Cheese Bhaji or The Very Famous Manchester Egg; equally Northern are the Spam Fritters with Brown & Red Sauce and as for Crispy Manchester Thingymabobs – it’s got to be worth sharing a plate with a friend, just to find out what they are. I bet you wouldn’t want to share them though, if the food we had is anything to go by. Warm game tart was incredibly tasty with immense flavour from the ‘game’ bird that generously donated itself to the pleasure of my tastebuds. (I did avert my eyes from the gaze of the Salford ducks out of respect when I ate.) The lamb’s tongue was new to both of us, and whilst I preferred my warming winter tart, I couldn’t deny the tongue had its merits: it was meaty and complemented well by sharp juicy piccalilli! We certainly couldn’t quibble with the price – £4.95 and £5.25 respectively and well worth it for a completely new taste experience.
My main course – roast partridge with potato fondant and game chips was something beautiful. White sauce and thick meaty gravy – it was probably a jus or a reduction or something I should know from Masterchef but can’t remember – only added to already the rich moist fowl which arrived atop a wooden board ready for me to carve onto my pristine white plate (with its three token baby carrots). I am normally a big veg-head (meaning, the vegetables are as important as anything else) but the creamy white sauce with the faintest hint of nutmeg and buttery fondant potato with the meat were just sublime. And the Pan Roast Wild Boar with Red Cabbage & Raisins wasn’t bad either, but I was glad I made my selection (smug – in spite of the glaring mallards!)
The Specials Menu changes regularly – in fact when we asked the waiter during our meal about this, it had already changed with tripe appearing in the starters! My course was around £16 and the Wild Boar £13.50, which is more than you would pay at a typical ‘gastro’ pub, of course, but The Mark Addy does not come under this banner. The food is much more upmarket, but the surroundings have all the feel of a tavern that could be raucous with parties or an intimate retreat for two. The regular menu revolves around British classics and popular signature dishes such as Lancashire Hotpot and Ribeye Steak with Duckfat Chips. These range in price from just under £10 for burgers and fish and chips, to £16.50 for the steak. This is very competitive pricing and from a venue where good cooking, fresh local produce and in some instances dinner caught by the chef himself (partridge, pheasant, oh gawd, and I’ve just read Mallard!) are at its heart.
In winter The Mark Addy is a charming sanctuary from the madness of Manchester Christmas shoppers; in the summer a spacious outside terrace fronts on to the River Irwell and promises sizzling BBQs and long afternoons lingering on the waterfront with a cool glass of wine. Wow.
Open: Monday – Saturday 11.30am-22.00pm; Sunday 11.30am-20.00pm.
Kitchen Hours: Monday – Friday 12.00pm-15.00pm & 17.00pm-21.00pm; Saturday – 12.00pm-22.00pm & Sunday 12.00pm-18.00pm.
The Mark Addy, Stanley Street, Salford, M3 5EJ. T: 0161 832 4080. E: firstname.lastname@example.org.