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
Archie’s has installed a bright pink train carriage at its original burger bar
Archie’s has fully reopened the doors of its original diner in Manchester, installing a hot pink train carriage inside.
The beloved burger and shake bar has today unveiled a ‘subway station’ in the basement as part of the Oxford Road site’s £1m transformation.
Diners can now tuck in to their smashed burgers, wings and tater tots from their own train booth.
The bright pink addition to the site has been designed like a New York City subway car, down to the handrails and the train windows with a graffiti-covered wall behind them.
The Archie’s team have even created a fast food-inspired underground map, featuring stops like Milkshake Gardens, St Pancakes, and Scrannington Place.
There’s enough seating inside the train carriage for around 25 diners, plus extra room outside it, where banks of metal train station-style benches are arranged.
The newly-revamped site also has new self-ordering screens at the entrance and a click-and-collect service.
The brand’s original site will be open from 11am (with its new breakfast offering on proud display) until 3am at the weekends.
Archie’s has become famed for its Instagram-friendly pink interiors since its launch in Manchester in 2010.
Features at other sites include giant ball pits and swings, plus masses of neon slogans, mirrors and colourful booths.
It’s lured in more than its fair share of celebs over the years too, with visits from famous faces like Floyd Mayweather, NeYo, Rita Ora, The Game, Kevin Hart and Conor McGregor, many of whom have designed their own milkshakes for the menu (Conor McGregor’s The Mac Life is a mad mix of Wispa Gold, peanut Lion Bar, hazelnut sauce and blue sherbert, if you were wondering).
Archie’s now has diners and burger bars across the country, including five here in Manchester, plus sells its food on Deliveroo.
There’s an apple crumble stall with unlimited custard under the Mancunian Way
A new food stall has opened underneath the Mancunian Way selling pots of apple and rhubarb crumble with unlimited custard.
Called Crumbled, it is one of three new food traders to have moved into Hatch street food village on Oxford Road – joined by Caroline Martin’s new Rio Mex taco joint, and Pakistani and Indian fusion spot Phukt.
Opened by Manchester-born fashion model Chloe Peers, the new crumble stall at Hatch offers two different types of crumbles with some eye-popping toppings including edible glitter, rose petals, Biscoff crumb and huge scoops of ice cream.
Customers can also opt to pay an additional £1 to enjoy unlimited custard refills, something that is well worth it when you find yourself halfway down the pot.
One of the newest additions to the street food lineup at the shipping container village, Crumbled neighbours a mouthwatering new Rio Mex taco joint from Michelin-trained chef Caroline Martins.
Having previously wowed Mancs with her fine-dining Sao Paulo Project menus at Blossom Street Social, not to mention starring in the north west heat of the BBC show Great British Menu, Martins is now also dabbling – eloquently, might we add – in the world of street food.
Inspired by her passion for the food of her home country of Brazil, combined with the time she spent living in Texas, Rio Mex sees one of Manchester’s most exciting chefs reflecting two of her favourite cuisines.
Must-try taco fillings include baja fish with biquinho pepper mayo and lime sour cream, ground pork al pastor with pineapple salsa, a five-hour chilli con carne with beef and black beans, and a melt-in-the-mouth barbacoa with cheddar sauce and house pickles.
Speaking on her new opening at hatch Caroline Martins, owner of RIO-MEX, said: “I fell in love with Hatch back in 2022 when I visited for the first time – the whole vibe was awesome! It’s the home of diversity in Manchester and a place where you can get everything done in one place.
“You can pop in, get your nails done, buy a cool vintage vest, get a cocktail at Miami Ice and have some incredible street food for dinner. And now RIO-MEX is joining; we can’t wait for everyone to try our beautiful Brazilian-Mexican fusion menu.”
You’ll also find butter chicken burgers and loaded masala fries over at newcomer Phukt, which is serving up Pakistani and Indian fusion dishes.
Promising a ‘feast from the East’, think tandoori gyros and biryani burritos, plus chaats, salads, dirty burgers and more.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
Hatch, Manchester’s award-winning food, drink, and retail destination, has welcomed a number of fabulous new traders with a Brazilian-Mexican eatery from one of Manchester’s most acclaimed chefs and there’s also a brand new vintage retailer making a new home for itself within the Hatch community.
Great British Menu’s Caroline Martins, who has worked in some of the world’s most highly-esteemed restaurants and was responsible for Manchester pop-up success story Sao Paulo Project, is bringing her brand new concept RIO-MEX to Hatch. RIO-MEX is a Brazilian-Mexican fusion street food project, and will be serving tacos, loaded nachos, churros and salgadinhos, which translates to ‘savoury nibbles’ and are often served at Brazilian pubs. Menu highlights include the Chilli Con Carne Taco, which takes five hours and the perfect blend of herbs and spices to prepare.
The inspiration for RIO-MEX came from Caroline’s passion for the food of her home country of Brazil, combined with the time she spent living in Texas. Whilst there, Caroline developed a passion for fusion cooking and RIO-MEX was born – a brand new concept for one of Manchester’s most exciting chefs reflecting two of her favourite cuisines.
Caroline Martins, owner of RIO-MEX commented:
“I fell in love with Hatch back in 2022 when I visited for the first time – the whole vibe was awesome! It’s the home of diversity in Manchester and a place where you can get everything done in one place. You can pop in, get your nails done, buy a cool vintage vest, get a cocktail at Miami Ice and have some incredible street food for dinner. And now RIO-MEX is joining; we can’t wait for everyone to try our beautiful Brazilian-Mexican fusion menu.”