There is a great moment in The Wizard of Oz when, as it starts to snow, the Cowardly Lion remarks: “Unusual weather we’re having, ain’t it?” I thought of this when the Blonde and I were strolling down Manchester’s Deansgate in the middle of a snowfall. It certainly came as a surprise to the women bar-hopping in ill-fitting high heels along with the loud men in T-shirts who inhabit the glittery watering holes which have popped up along the south end of the road. As an increasingly an unsafe environment fuelled by ill manners and alcohol, it almost makes me wish for the quiet days of lockdown. I hope that the city council will investigate it after the festive season. It’s becoming like the Wild West without the sheriff.
We were heading to a newish eatery and bar, tucked away on Tib Lane just off Cross Street, to sample its Sunday menu. The restaurant is simply called 10 Tib Lane. It is as quietly understated and unshowy as the dark iron signage that lets you know you have arrived. Inside, you’re greeted at the door by friendly staff and the welcome sight of a well-stocked cocktail bar. It is sparsely decorated and subtlety lit. It oozes warmth. The upper floors are inhabited by the dining rooms. Again, well lit, they are tables of good weight supported by heavy wooden floors which give the space style and sophistication as well as a cosy hue.
Launched in August this year, 10 Tib Lane is a collaboration between Ben Gretton of Cocktail Beer Ramen + Bun and Joe White of Henry C. The menu was designed by Chef Alex Shaw, late of Volta. It is short but packed with small plates of French goodness. I can certainly vouch for the wild sea bass baragoule, as well as the pork loin supported by a creamy mash which gladdened my Irish heart. It’s close by, so our visits are becoming more frequent. I’m particularly fond of the hours between 4 and 6pm when all cocktails are £6 and the oysters just a pound. And I’m very taken with Le Mastrou, a clear delight of olive oil washed Plymouth gin, lillet and cacao blancs with citric acid. Easy on the palate and light on the wallet.
But we’re here to experience the new Sunday menu. I can’t resist the roast dinner of pink 42-day dry aged sirloin and trimmings. The Yorkshire pudding is light, large and as crispy as I’ve ever seen. The beef is cooked as close to perfection as I’ve tasted in a long time. Meanwhile, the Blonde goes for a winter-warming butternut squash soup and a well-appointed cheese board (a chilled Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc helps the medicine go down). To finish we share an absolutely delicious sticky toffee pudding and a Pedro Ximenez sherry that’s as sweet as a tin of prunes and has legs like Cyd Charisse.
It must be said that the staff are brilliant. Alastair, Amber, Becky, Ben and Josh looked after us royally. Their knowledge and an unforced readiness to chat made it a memorable afternoon. 10 Tib Lane is born of a good pedigree and is undoubtedly a class act. Most importantly, as my partner pointed out, it is a space where she feels safe. Long may it continue.