Now, I am of course a mature and sophisticated woman, with erudite tastes and a highbrow outlook on the world. Yet I find it very hard not to snigger at the word "sausage". Since I started helping out on the Bobby's Bangers stall at Levenshulme Market, I have been able to amuse myself on a fortnightly basis by using phrases such as "manning the sausage stall" and "meat handling skills" without fear of reprisal, and now a whole new opportunity for puerile punning has presented itself with the opening of The Splendid Sausage Company on John Dalton Street in Manchester.
The fact that the restaurant is pretty much full on a Friday lunchtime suggests that Manchester likes a tasty banger as much as I do, and we are lucky to bag one of the cute wood-chipped booths, as designed by the very talented Si Astley (otherwise known as @moregeous - she is a woman of many talents who is also excellent with both cake and cocktails). The menu is at first a little daunting - there are eleven different sausages to choose from, including a gluten-free and a veggie option, to which you can add your own toppings. Easier though to turn the menu over and take a look at the Combos - favourite combinations pre-chosen on the grateful diner's behalf (although even these can be customised) and piled high on a brioche roll. The helpful staff guide us through our options, and eventually I decide on the J.Y.D - the splendid (traditional pork sausage with mixed herbs, pepper and garlic) topped with chicken bites, chilli, bacon, fried onions, sauerkraut and three cheese mix - while my friend goes for the equally dainty All Day Breakfast (the splendid topped with a fried egg, bacon, hash browns, crumbled black pudding and tomato relish).
They are both amazing. A tasty, high quality sausage in a soft, buttery roll hidden under a positive quilt of tasty toppings - indeed, when I post these pictures on Facebook a friend asks, not unreasonably, where the actual sausage is. I particularly enjoy the chicken bites on the top - I remove these and eat them separately, largely because I want to try the homemade peanut butter mustard and BBQ sauces and am a little short of unadorned surface area upon which to squirt them. Clearly sides are unnecessary with this amount of food; clearly this makes no difference to us and we order some anyway. The Eggs Benedict fries are as good as Gordo has been saying - two perfectly poached eggs and a rich Hollandaise atop a mound of bacon and fries; just as good, though, are the Bacon, Buffalo & Blue fries, which offer exactly the right amount of salty moreishness. A passing friend who claims "not to be hungry" has the Splendid Fries and loves every mouthful (EVERY mouthful - we get NOTHING from this plate) - different flavours of sausage cut into pieces and served with bacon and gravy over a pile of fries, a little like an exciting sausage lucky dip. In fact, my only negative about the whole meal is that I'm not keen on eating out of little plastic baskets - but as someone who eats both burgers and hot dogs with a knife and fork, I'm aware that morally I'm not allowed an opinion on this.
Suffice to say, we eat the lot and are too full for puddings. Nor do we try the cocktail menu, sticking to a couple of beers instead. As far as I'm concerned though this just gives us every reason to hurry back - this is a cute, quirky venue run by lovely people with a relaxed atmosphere and great prices (about £8 for a combo; £4-5 for a side) - and here, at least, there's certainly NOTHING funny about a lovely juicy sausage.
- The Splendid Sausage Company is on John Dalton Street, M2 6WH; tel. 0161 833 1016. We were invited in to try the menu and were not asked to pay for our food and drink, but frankly (no pun intended) we'd been itching to go anyway and will definitely be back.