Guardian food critic Jay Rayner has been in Salford checking out the (relatively) newly-reopened Black Friar pub, brought back to life in spectacular fashion following two decades of closure.
A glowing review, published this weekend, showers the pub with praise – with Rayner ultimately concluding that he’d be ‘rather chuffed’ if the Black Friar was his local.
With former 20 Stories chef Ben Chaplin at the helm, when it first threw open its doors this summer the Black Friar initially offered two menus – a ‘pub classics’ menu and a selection of more ‘fancy’ restaurant dishes.
However, rather conveniently, the day of Rayner’s visit also happens to be the day the team decided to merge them into one, leaving him to comment: “don’t therefore expect the food to be confined to essence of British pub.”
“What you now get is a hybrid. There are pies and terrines and fish and chips from the boozer side of the ledger, and altogether grander things involving truffles and champagne from the fat-walleted end.”
He does still take a good-natured swipe at some of the prices, mind.
That ‘fat-walleted’ comment, a reference in part to the residents above “working at the very cutting edge of modern media communications, or whatever it is the denizens of these tidy apartments do”, leads him to describe a few dish prices as either ‘brave’ or ‘enthusiastic’.
Still, for the most part, he’s on-side, stating: “When I get on to those prices some of you may wish to start curling your noses like the Catherine Tate characters Janice and Ray while shouting, “And this! In Salford! The dirty robbing bastards.”
“Get it out of your system now. […] What matters is that the cooking is big and bullish and, for the most part, on point.”
He heaps praise on the pub’s daily rotation of pies, proclaiming: “the pie liberationists will be pleased to know that it is very much a single item, clad from top to toe in crumbly, flaky puff.
“Pie purists will agree that if you can’t throw it across a room with one hand, it’s not a pie. This is a pie.”
Adding ‘obviously sipping gravy should be a thing’, a fact we couldn’t possibly agree with any more enthusiastically, despite his enjoyment he can’t help but point out that a similar creation in London’s The Windmill in Mayfair still comes in at a pound cheaper.
“As Janice and Ray might point out, we really are on the edge of a dual carriageway in Salford,” he quips.
Elsewhere, he waxes lyrical about a charming plate of ‘big fat scallops’ and a boar and pheasant terrine served with warm brioche and chutney, stating: “If you’re going to pay £10 for a terrine, you want it to look like this.”
All in all, it seems the visit is a hit, with Rayner proclaiming, “This is serious cookery: both profoundly beautiful and profoundly eatable.”
He’s got great things to say about the dessert menu, which he notes features all the ‘much-loved usual suspects’, calling a beautifully made bitter orange parfait ‘a gift to marmalade lovers everywhere’.
Read more: The stunning reservoir walk near Manchester with giant ‘plugholes’
His only real critique, in truth, is for a dish of turbot with smoked ell choucroute, champagne velouté and caviar -described as “a brave £32.”
But even this, he concedes, is a ‘very good dish indeed fighting to get out from underneath all this overkill’ – adding that a spoonful of caviar is ‘more symbol of northwestern largesse than vital ingredient’.
The Black Friar is remarkably chuffed to have had the esteemed critic down for a visit, sharing the review to its Facebook page with the caption: “The Blackfriar has made the pages of The Guardian and we couldn’t be prouder.
“Thanks to Jay Rayner for paying us a visit and a big thanks to our team and customers. Without their hard work and support over the last 20 weeks what we have achieved wouldn’t have been possible. We love you all.”
Feature image – The Black Friar
Police issue update after Sterling flies home from World Cup following home invasion
Surrey Police have issued an update following Raheem Sterling’s home invasion that has forced the England international to fly home from the 2022 World Cup.
The former Manchester City star was left out of the Three Lions squad against Senegal due to a “family matter” on Sunday before the exact circumstances were confirmed shortly after.
Authorities have now verified that hundreds of thousands of pounds of goods had been stolen from the property but that, fortunately, “no threat of violence was involved”.
Sterling flew just hours after hearing of the break-in at his home Leatherhead home where he lives with his fiancé and two children.
Manager Gareth Southgate could not confirm whether the Chelsea player will be returning to the squad, insisting that, obviously, “the priority is for him to be with his family” and that they will “give him as much time as he needs”.
The police force said in a statement: “We are currently investigating a report of a burglary at an address in Oxshott, Leatherhead.
“Police were contacted just before 9pm on Saturday, December 3rd after the occupants of the property came home and discovered a number of items including jewellery and watches had been stolen.
“Inquiries to establish the circumstances are underway and the investigation is ongoing. No threat of violence was involved as the items were discovered stolen retrospectively. Inquiries into the circumstances are ongoing.”
Man arrested on suspicion of rape and robbery after entering woman’s apartment through the window
A man has been arrested on suspicion of rape and robbery after a horrific incident in Hulme.
GMP has been investigating since a man broke into a woman’s apartment through a window at around 5am on Thursday 29 November.
He threatened her at knifepoint before raping her.
In a short update, GMP said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion of rape and robbery. He remains in custody for questioning.”
The man entered the victim’s home on Wilmott Street, on the outskirts of the city centre, through an ‘insecure window’.
Detective Superintendent David Meeney, of GMP’s City of Manchester district said last week: “We are following several lines of enquiry and will have extra patrols in the area over the next few days.
“Offences of this nature are very rare, and this is being treated as an isolated incident. There are detectives working around the clock to identify the male responsible and the victim is receiving specialist support.
“We are urging people in the area to be vigilant and to make sure their doors and windows are secure, especially during the late evening and through the night.
“If anyone has any information regarding this incident, or if they see any suspicious activity in the area, please report this to officers in person or by calling 101 quoting 726 of 29/11/22. If it is an emergency, always dial 999.”
If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, we encourage you not to suffer in silence and report it to the police, or a support agency so you can get the help and support available.
Saint Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Manchester provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to men, women and children who live or have been sexually assaulted within Greater Manchester. They offer forensic medical examinations, practical and emotional support as well as a counselling service for all ages. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and can be accessed by calling 0161 276 6515.
Greater Manchester Rape Crisis is a confidential information, support and counselling service run by women for women over 18 who have been raped or sexually abused at any time in their lives. Call on 0161 273 4500 or email [email protected]
Survivors Manchester provides specialist trauma informed support to male victims in Greater Manchester who have experienced sexual abuse, rape or sexual exploitation. Call 0161 236 2182.