For some time now I've been a fan of The Beagle in Chorlton which, along with other hostelries such as Font and Proof, represents all that is good about this particular suburb - an interesting bar with a great range of drinks and a good atmosphere no matter what time of day you visit. Until recently, The Beagle also had the lure of Margo & Rita's Mexican food, but Mark and Diane have now packed up the van and set off for a summer of streetfood and festivals, despite me threatening to cling on to one of the rear tyres in a bid to stop them going.
But gone they have (it's OK - I only suffered a few scrapes, and they're healing now), so it seemed only right to call in one Saturday afternoon and see what's going on now with the food menu. The first thing you notice is how much it's grown - many of the dishes remain the same or similar to the Margo & Rita days (think tacos, burritos, burgers, fried chicken) but there's now a lot more choice. We eventually decide on a couple of things we've not seen on The Beagle menu before: the Homeslice Chicken Bucket at £10 (three pieces of fried chicken, four wings, slaw, fries and a couple of sauces) and the Popcorn Shrimp Cocktail Salad at a pound less, and sit back with a pint or two of Veltins Pilsner while we wait.
The service on food at The Beagle hasn't always been the quickest, but on a busy afternoon the wait is a lot less than it has been whenever I've visited before, meaning that we only see one small child launch themselves down the stairs which separate the dining area from the bar before our food arrives. The portions are huge, and the Popcorn Shrimp Salad looks particularly impressive with its hollowed out avocado filled with moreishly bitesize crispy shrimp piled on top of a dish of lettuce, avocado, red cabbage and tomatoes. Indeed, I am most taken with this dish - I fear the Popcorn Shrimp could become ridiculously addictive, and the presence of all those salad items help you believe you're eating healthily despite all that batter and all those Veltins. Not so the fried chicken, which is unashamedly trailer trash in all its greasy, sticky-finger-making glory: it's delicious, offering a pleasing mix of chicken both on and off the bone, and some nicely spicy sauces in which to dip one's fries (this activity, incidentally, leads to the accidental ruining of a new dress - ask them for extra napkins if, like me, you are blessed with the co-ordination of an ape).
So will I continue to eat at The Beagle? Yes. This is straightforward food done well and served up at reasonable prices; it's not ground-breaking or gourmet (or even, in my case, very dignified), but it is pretty tasty, not to mention an excellent way of mopping up all that Pilsner...
- The Beagle is at 456-458 Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, Manchester M21 0BQ. We were given £20 towards the cost of our meal (so effectively ate but not drank for free) and asked to email feedback in exchange - I was not asked to blog the meal but I enjoyed it, so I have.