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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Robert Owen Brown and Inca Pop-Ups Join Forces at Manchester's Proper Tea

It's little wonder that Manchester still can't get enough of the Pop Up, whether this be a one-off supper club or full-on restaurant. I've never been completely convinced by street food, thanks to the whole eating-whilst-standing-up-and-often-as-not-in-the-pouring-rain thing, but can fully understand that opening a permanent restaurant is a financial commitment beyond most people's reach, particularly with rents and rates in Manchester requiring a pretty sharp turnover right from the off. Common sense, then, to make use of an existing venue in order to spread the costs, a little like a foodie time-share - and that's exactly what happened last Saturday night, when a room full of people were able to sit comfortably in the beautiful Proper Tea and enjoy an excellent one-off menu from Robert Owen Brown without worrying about getting coleslaw in their hair or rain in their shoes. The supper club had originally been planned to take place in Chapter One Books in the Northern Quarter, but a last minute glitch meant Proper Tea stepping in to save the day, and whilst I was sad not to eat surrounded by books, the new venue was pretty much ideal (long walk to the toilet aside). Anyway, my friend had brought me along the Hawksmoor at Home cookbook for a birthday present, so I was able to pretend I was indeed in a bookshop, albeit one with a very small stock selection.

I previewed the menu here a few weeks ago, and it didn't disappoint - although I had warned a trepidatious boyfriend, a first time visitor to a Robert Owen Brown event, about the likelihood of the presence of animal unmentionables that didn't in the end materialise. Instead we were treated to a sophisticated succession of courses showcasing the pleasures of game - the rabbit consomme was a simple yet delicious clear stock peppered with chunks of meat and crunchy mini dumplings; the pigeon was cooked pink and served thinly sliced with sweet chestnuts and crispy parsnips that really complemented its rich flavour; and the roast partridge sat happily on a bed of wild mushrooms and caramelised onion. The dark chocolate tart could have been a little more bitter for me, but I don't really have a sweet tooth and in any case was saving myself for the final course of the night - the white port-soaked Garstang cheese was everything I hoped it would be and more, and the sweet waffles with which Rob served it were a revelation. And just when I thought I couldn't eat any more, the lovely Claire from Inca Pop Ups (who knew it was my birthday) appeared with a plate of cakes and everyone sang to me - just the perfect end to a fab evening. Mention must also go to Nic from Reserve Wines, who had chosen some great drinks for the evening - we really enjoyed a Rioja priced at a very reasonable £15 a bottle.

This is the first event I've been to organised by Inca Pop Ups but I will definitely be going to more - it's always a pleasure to see Rob but as well as his cooking the evening was really well organised and offered very good value for money. Keep an eye on Eventbrite for their forthcoming events - the next is on the 28th November and features another collaboration with Rob, this time in Alderley Edge. I can't go to this one - but with a menu including a "bird in a bird, in a bird, sat in a pear tree", it's frankly your duty to go along and take a few photos to share with the rest of us...

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