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Thursday, 26 August 2010

Greed and Gluttony at The Mark Addy Gourmet Dinner

Now, obviously I'm not a greedy person. In any way. It's not as if, for example, I go to sleep at night thinking about what I might eat the next day, and I certainly don't keep a pile of cookbooks by the bed in case I need to look at emergency pictures of food. So when I booked to attend The Mark Addy Gourmet Dinner, a six course extravaganza that takes place on the last Wednesday of every month, I did so nonchalently and carelessly; I have not spent the last three weeks checking the date and wondering when, OH WHEN?????, the 25th of August would arrive. Well, not much, anyway.

The Mark Addy has always been a decent pub, thanks to its prime location on the banks of the Irwell, but has recently been renovated and now boasts not only an outdoor seating/barbecue area for making the most of all that lovely Manchester rain, but has also lured top chef Robert Owen Brown on board (please insert own joke about rivers and being on board; I'm a little weary this evening.)

As a result, a number of interesting foodie evenings have started to appear at The Addy, including the Gourmet Dinner. When we arrived, I was excited. By the time our exuberantly hirsute chef had appeared and announced the menu, I was beyond excited. This is what we had to look forward to:

1. Wild mushroom and Madeira soup.
2. Roasted bone marrow and parsley salad with crispy ox tongue and fiery English mustard.
3. Pan-fried flounder with cockles, clams and mussels.
4. Knuckle of lamb with cobnuts and cabbage.
5. Damson stew with sour cream.
6. Regional cheese.

I felt an overwhelming urge to stand on the table and applaud wildly at the sheer deliciousness of what I had been promised, but instead sat quietly and was rewarded with the best meal I have had in a very, very long time. This was no ordinary tasting menu, with modest little morsels and a few delicate fancies; this was a series of proper, hearty, full-size dishes brought by charming staff who were actually interested to know what you thought of each course.

I liked everything except the bone marrow, which just seemed oily and tasteless, and my husband liked everything except the cheese, but that was only because by that point he was starting to go slightly green through over-eating. Clearly this isn't a menu for anyone with picky tastes; I took the menu into work today and many of my colleagues went slightly pale at the thought of the ox tongue, refusing to believe that it was actually the nicest bit of the whole meal. Frankly, when you've spent your childhood watching your father cook an entire tongue every Christmas, few food items hold any terror for you in adulthood, but if you know anyone likely to be frightened off by such innocuous items, simply leave them at home with their ready meal and take someone else with you.

The menu changes every month, based on what is seasonal and local, and is ridiculously good value at £25 per head. We have already booked for next month and I suggest you do the same immediately; shame it's such a stupidly long time till the 29th...
*surreptitiously starts marking off the days in diary*

- The Mark Addy is on Stanley Street, Salford M3 5EJ, tel. 0161 8324080, or visit them at Now.

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