A couple of weeks ago, I headed to Northern Quarter’s Boutique Hotel and Bar Abel Heywood to experience the launch of a new dining area upstairs. They have always had the top floor open, but have recently re-branded the area to be dedicated to dining, offering a new menu of traditional pub food to a more ‘higher’ standard. At first glance of the menu, it was quite refreshing to see – the Northern Quarter is fast becoming over saturated with quirky burger bars and pizza eateries that I often just wobble out of the Northern Quarter, hands glued to my overloaded belly. I am a sucker for a loaded burger with sweet potato fries accompanied with a fancy milkshake with all the toppings. So don’t even get me started on pizza choices.
With this in mind, I genuinely love the Northern Quarter, but sometimes I wish there were a few more traditional offerings with a little more ‘class’. Yes, I could just head to Spinningfields, but I work down that end of Manchester, and much prefer escaping to the more independent area.
Anyway, so the menu I tried on the night was split into the usual starters, mains and desserts, trying out a little bit of each. For starters, we were given a mixture of artichoke soup, scallops with cauliflower cheese, braised pig cheeks and a chard chicory, all which were pleasantly nice to try, with ideal portion sizes. I have to say the soup was delicious, it had a creamy texture and was definitely ‘more-ish’. It’s hard to make a soup quite desirable, but I did thoroughly enjoy this.
The main courses were very meat heavy, which is fine as I am a meat eater, however I tend to like quite a nice 50/50 variation on a menu of vegetarian options Vs meat. I guess that’s just because I tend to like a lot of veggie options! I have to give it to Abel Heywood for cooking an absolutely beautiful pork loin, purely because I rarely enjoy pork so I didn’t have high expectations. However, it was so soft and melted in the mouth, with the yummiest potatoes as a side. I could have had more of this, it was that tasty. My other favourite was the salmon with it’s tangy tartar sauce – again the texture was incredible and made a super tasty dish. I wasn’t too over the moon about the beef, but that’s purely because I’m not a huge beef fan and the fries were extremely thin. Appearance wise, I have to say that it resembled a very trend roast though!
I always look forward to desserts because I have a ridiculous sweet tooth. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed by the offerings, although some of the options were slightly ‘different’ – such as the spiced apple crumble with custard. It tasted lovely – very rich in cinnamon, although the crumble did remind me a little bit of museli. The fact it came delivered in a little glass jar was uber cute – a really nice touch and very unique. I’m a sucker for a big bowl of apple crumble though, but maybe that’s because I’m greedy and I actually think the jam jar effect will go down well.
The selection of cheeses and biscuits again were spot on, with more than enough to share and still fill you up. Then there was a Manchester themed selection of treats called ‘The Manchester Plate’, involving mini pavlovas, Manchester Tart and Eccles Cakes. They were very tiny, but probably a decent size after a filling meal. They were lovely and sweet in biteable sizes which I think again will go down very well, although give me a slice of Victoria sponge over an Eccles Cakes anyday. But again, that’s just me. I genuinely liked the Manchester theme and found it a well thought through dessert offering.
Last but not least, we tucked into an Iced Peanut Butter Parfait with nut brittle and raspberry gel. One of the most unique treats on the menu and by far the most delicious! It was incredible, and not sickly at all to me (I heard a few people say it was very sweet, but I quite liked that…) in fact I could have ate a lot more of it. Very more-ish, a little like a cool snickers bar…
The interior overall gives a dimly lit, cosy feel with lots of wood and dark decor. It feels like a homely place, nestled into the back streets of the Northern Quarter, with quite an ‘old’ traditional feel. Prices seem ideal for a pub with dining that offers a little more class. I would definitely visit again, and even had a little peak at the Christmas set menus too which I would recommend checking out. Well done Abel Heywood – I will be back!