Anyone who glances at this nonsense on a regular basis will know that one of the highlights of my month is the Gourmet Night at The Mark Addy on the final Wednesday: six surprise courses of Robert Owen Brown's seasonal fancies for £30. It's always amazing, and I always enjoy myself. And yet, last night I wasn't really sure I wanted to go: I was tired, and pretty bloated after an excessively enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend and then a Tuesday night spent swanning round SoLIta dressed in head-to-toe leopard print and snarfing Italian-American classics in honour of Sporanos Night. In short, I felt that even I had finally reached my greed threshold.
Of course, it goes without saying that I went anyway - and was rewarded with what I think is Rob's finest menu yet. To wit:
1. Wild Dunham Rabbit with Red Rose Forest Mushrooms. Chef Owen Brown doesn't do requests at Gourmet Night (it's pretty much a case of you'll eat your tripe and like it), so I was doing nothing more than trying my luck when I sent a jaunty tweet to him last week saying I fancied rabbit this month. And look - not only is there a dainty dish of Flopsy cavorting happily in a mushroom and cream sauce, there are bunny ears made out of breadsticks, and a toadstool made out of radish! I'm SO going to ask for MORE stuff from now on if this kind of thing happens as a result.
2. Deep Fried Lambs Heart & Veal Tongue Sandwich with Caramelised Trotter Gear. On every Addy menu there is a dish that strikes fear into the heart of Twitter, and to be quite honest I was a little trepidatious of this myself - it just had too many scary animal parts in its name. Quite obviously though, it was the best dish of the night - offal in a rich gravy, breaded and deep fried, and slapped between two slices of fried bread; it was, as Rob himself described it, "a bit Greggs", but in a very good way. I had, incidentally, entirely missed the rudeness of the name until the ever-reliable Deanna Thomas tweeted me to say that she's always enjoyed a tongue sandwich - no wonder she's a top chef and food blogger, as she knows everything, and never fails to teach me something new.
3. Poached Turbot with Anglesey Seaweed. Something relatively healthy to counteract the first couple of courses - a perfect piece of fish with gorgeous little lemony potato scales, some sexy veg and some nicely salty seaweed strands.
4. Classic Roast Lancashire Grouse with all the Tracklements (to share). A classic indeed - roast, gamey bird served with roast onion, apple sauce, roast potatoes, game chips and gravy - that I can fault in only two small ways. Firstly, it turns out I am poor at carving grouse, and could have done with a passing butcher (I'm looking at you, James Bobby's Bangers) to lend a hand, and secondly, I never care to see the phrase "to share" appended to anything I'm about to eat. Otherwise, most excellent.
5. Millionaire Shortbread, Popcorn IceCream, Lemon & Lime Curd, Chocolate Fruit & and Nut, Irwell Blackcurrant Mousse. The desserts at Gourmet Night have got a little out of hand in recent months, and part of me hankers after the days when Rob would serve up a simple gooseberry fool or similar - people who can't be trusted to show restraint after four courses shouldn't be trusted with this kind of over-generously sized pudding family either. Still, hard to complain when it was all so nice - I didn't eat the mousse as blackcurrants have an unfortunate effect on me which would NOT have been welcomed at table bearing in mind the amount I'd already consumed, but everything else was delicious. As a point of future reference, never ask for extra caramel sauce as Rob will bring you what essentially amounts to a soup tureen filled with the stuff - you will gamely eat it, and you will feel ill afterwards *voice of experience*.
6. Appleby's Farmhouse Cheshire Cheese. No picture, because I didn't get this far: instead, I carried it home in a plastic container the size of China, just in case I became hungry during the night.
So, another triumph - and unfortunately it seems the lesson to be learned from such a feast is that gluttony pays, and that if you stay in, you might just miss out...
- The Mark Addy is on Stanley Street in Salford, M3 5EJ.