Despite being a Didsbury girl, I spend a fair old percentage of my time in Chorlton. And being a creature of habit, much of that Chorlton time is spent either in Font, enthusiastically drinking my way through the cocktail menu, or over the road at The Beagle. This latter venue tends to be my default meeting place - it's a nice, roomy pub (particularly since they built the lovely glass extension on the front) with decent beer, good food and a dog-friendly policy that always leaves my dog-loving friend feeling distinctly broody and me fearing he will dog-nap one and make off with it under his arm before I can stop him (Chorlton - LOCK UP YOUR DOGS).
Last week saw the launch of a new food menu, so I trammed it over the border to have a look. The menu in all honesty doesn't look vastly different from before and still offers its laid-back selection of tacos, burritos and burgers; there is a new pick and mix starters section though that looks very promising indeed. These can be bought individually or you can choose any three for £9.95, and although they're billed as "snacks" each is fairly substantial (and this is coming from a girl whose idea of a snack is a couple of rounds of cheese on toast at the very least). We were given a selection of four to try on the launch night - deep-fried pickles, sweetcorn and jalapeno fritters, fried courgette "wings" and crumbed chicken strips. We enjoyed them all, although my girly friend found the sweetcorn fritters too spicy - these were probably my favourite item though, so his loss = my gain (always best to take a picky plus-one as then you get to eat more than your share).
The next course was the highlight of the night - a selection of tacos (Baja Fish, Korean Tofu, Carne Asada and a Popcorn Shrimp lettuce cup). I am a big fan of The Beagle's Popcorn Shrimp and so was confidently expecting to enjoy this or the chargrilled steak the most from this particular platter - but the Korean Tofu (barbecued and served with kimchi, sriracha & crispy shallots) just edged it. Again, this one was very spicy - but was so good even the heat-averse friend had to eat it. Tofu has honestly never tasted this good to me - must be something to do with being in Chorlton maybe.
On to the mains, although by this stage we were pretty full and couldn't fully do them justice. I was bad and had the Homeslice Chicken Bucket despite it not being a new item on the menu - I am generally powerless to resist the lure of this cheery vessel of crumbed buttermilk chicken (three pieces of chicken, four wings, fries, slaw and a couple of sauces to make a mess with) and it proved the case yet again. Our other choice was the only misfire of the evening - the Nacho Maximo (nachos, melted cheese, cheese sauce, refried beans, pico, crema and jalapenos) was a toweringly generous plateful with a good balance of toppings, but the beef brisket we added as an extra was quite astonishingly salty. You can't see it in the pictures as it's lurking underneath, but there was lots of it and its integration into the dish made parts of it pretty inedible - and that's coming from someone who really, really likes salt. To be fair, I'm sure they would have changed it had we asked, but we had eaten so much by this point anyway we didn't ask them to.
There was the usual chuntering on Twitter about free food blah blah blah, but I spend a good percentage of my salary here anyway and we paid for all our drinks on the night aside from a welcome margarita. In fact, I'm fairly sure it was only the saltiness of the brisket that drove me to order and neck that very good, quite expensive Sauvignon Blanc (this is my story, and I plan to stick to it)....
- The Beagle is at 456-458 Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, Manchester M21 0BQ. Food is served every day (except Monday) until 10.