When Elite Bistros chef Gary Usher revealed plans to take over a historic country pub in Cheshire, Manchester took notice.
The popular chef behind esteemed eateries Hispi and Kala, Sticky Walnut, Wreckfish, Burnt Truffle and Pinion has certainly made a name for himself in the bistro world, not to mention breaking every crowdfunding record he’s ever set.
Now, he’s trying his hand at something new. Having opened six acclaimed bistros to date, last year he went and snapped up the White Horse pub in Churton: a charming local pub that just so happens to sit down the road from his parent’s house.
At the time Usher revealed that it had always been a dream of his to run the pub as he had ‘always loved it there’ and often walks his dog Billy in the area.
Today, that dream officially became a reality as the pub’s doors reopened for the first time. So naturally, we mooched over to check it out for ourselves.
Little did we expect the main man himself to be the one to hold the door, but there he was.
When Usher first announced his takeover of the country boozer, he promised ‘delicious, unpretentious food’ and ‘great drinks’. Having tipped in for lunch, it seems fair to say that he has delivered.
Braised beef with roast garlic and parsley mash, a curried lamb pie and an 18oz dry-aged sirloin of beef to share all jump out at us, but in the end, we opt for the heartiest of hearty classics. Namely fish and chips, and faggots.
For the uninitiated, faggots are essentially chunky little meatballs made from offal and flavoured with herbs and breadcrumbs. A favourite of my dads, I grew up eating them – but only on his birthday, because my mum found the idea of shaping the minced-up off cuts too offputting for any other occassion.
Typically they’re made using pork, but at The White Horse the meat of choice is lamb. It works, very well, the herbs running through dense meatballs, which in turn sit atop a bowl of creamy mash pooled with rich gravy. Crispy shallots add crunch. It’s proper.
As for the fish and chips, we both agree that aesthetically these are the neatest chips we’ve ever seen. “DId they recruit a bricklayer in to lay these chips? They look so neat” quips my dinner date as we dive in.
We agree the fish batter is stodgy, but in the best possible way. Another thirty seconds in the fryer and it would’ve been overcooked.
As it is, though, everything is absolutely spot on: from the thickly sliced homemade pork pie paired with a sunshine-yellow piccalilli, to the chunky slice of Welsh rarebit loaded with lashings of stout and Appleby’s smoked Cheshire cheese.
Yes it’s early days and we’re in danger of running into a rave before the staff have even learnt to walk, but in fairness even the service was impeccable – something you don’t always expect to find at a new opening just finding its feet.
Our server did admit they were slightly terrified about the first day, but during our meal it didn’t show,aside from Gary Usher opening the door himself on our arrival. I don’t expect you’ll be getting that every day.
That said, the controversial £19.50 burger mysteriously disappeared from the menu just before opening day came around. It just wasn’t perfect, so we’re told, so it didn’t make the cut. Still you can’t criticise them for caring too much, that’s for sure.
This new opening is not trying to reinvent the wheel, at all. If anything, it’s just returning to what the wheel used to be. Comforting classics, done well, with decent pints and an attractive wine list that won’t break the bank (£22 for a bottle).
We do love a good country pub at The Manc, and this is definitely one of them.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
Manchester steak restaurant finds itself homeless for SECOND time after shock closure of Canvas
A steak business in Manchester has found itself ‘homeless once again’ after yesterday’s sudden closure of Canvas.
Block Steak Shop was previously based in Hatch, which closed almost all of its site in September last year, leaving local food, drink and retail operators scrambling for new homes.
The street food business had already set up a second location at Canvas, just down Oxford Road at the new Circle Square development, which became its sole site.
Almost Famous is giving out FREE burgers to Mancs with a very rare birthday next week
Almost Famous is dishing out free burgers in Manchester next week… but it’s only to the people with the rarest birthday of them all.
Leap Day babies, here’s another one for you.
It’s estimated that only around 4.1 million people worldwide were born on 29 February – which, of course, is also known as a Leap Day birthday – and if you just so happen to be one of those unfortunate, or in this case fortunate, people here in Manchester, then you’ll probably want to get yourself down to Almost Famous next week to celebrate.
That’s because the legendary burger joint is commemorating the special day that only comes around every four years by giving away free burger next Thursday.
The catch, however, is that you have to have been born on 29 February to claim the freebie.
Merely days after Manchester’s popular street food hall and social hub, Society, announced that it would be pouring free pints for Leap Day babies on their birthday, now Almost Famous is getting in on the action too by doing what it does best – serving up some of the heartiest burgers in the whole of the city centre.
Rallying up all Leap Day babies on its official social media platforms this morning, Almost Famous wrote: “Calling all Leap Year babies – get a free burger on 29 February with a valid ID proving it’s your birthday. Sometimes the best things only come round every four years.”
Almost Famous’ burgers are known and loved all across the UK, especially here in Manchester, and now, Leap Day babies who’ve missed out on years of celebrating get to reap the birthday benefits.
So-called ‘leapers’ wanting to bag their bargain burger next Thursday will just need to head on down to one of Almost Famous’ two Manchester city centre restaurants – either the Northern Quarter, or the one inside Great Northern Warehouse – and show the staff a valid form of ID that proves they were, in fact, born on that day.
The deal is expected to run all day, from the moment both Almost Famous sites open right until they close, and, as far as we can tell, the free burger offer is redeemable across the whole menu, so there’s a wide choice to pick from.
But don’t forget, like we’ve already mentioned, it’s just for one day only.