Food Review: Albatross & Arnold at The Range, Spinningfields, Manchester
Curtis Stewart. Remember that name. This man can cook. And he’s currently doing his stuff in a first floor restaurant at an indoor golf club in Spinningfields.
“Err, what?” you say. “There haven’t been large patches of grass in that part of Manchester since about 1800.” You’d be right but, thanks to the wonders of the digital age, itchy golfers can get a lunchtime or post-work scratch on any golf course in the world without leaving the 19th hole in one of The Range’s simulators. I expect, if you went looking, you’d find your heart’s desire simulated somewhere.
Fortunately the food in the restaurant next door is real. The menu is divided into Snacks, While You Wait, Fish, Meat, Vegetables and Sides, and there are between three and five choices in each, which is just as it should be. Everything can be cooked to order (not pulled out of a freezer) and the prices are reasonable. Main course meat and fish range from £13-£19 and vegetarian mains are £9-£13. Everything else is between £3.50 and £8.00.
We had a bowl of marinated olives from While You Wait, and although they look like the marinated olives you get everywhere, they had rather a zing to them which made us think, “ooh, that bodes well”. And it did.
From Snacks we had the whitebait with smoked cods’ roe, and the welsh rarebit with rocket pesto. The whitebait was coated in a coarse flour before frying which gave it an unusual bite, and the cods’ roe sauce brought out the fishiness. I’m a great fan of smoked cods’ roe, it’s what you use to make your own taramasalata which is miles better than any you can buy, and a completely different colour. I’ve shared the recipe at the bottom of this article. Meanwhile, the Welsh rarebit managed to be crisp and melting, and the rocket pesto gave it a sharp edge.
From the mains we had the cauliflower steak served with a cauliflower veloute and parmesan truffle, one of the most on-trend dishes on the menu. I’ve eaten quite a lot of cauliflower steak and generally it tastes of cauliflower. This one tastes of all sorts of things, but mostly not cauliflower, and is delicious. The lamb, however, is a thing unto itself. A triumph. The rump, smoked in hay, finished in the pan, and served with an artichoke puree. The juiciest, softest, most moreish piece of lamb I have eaten since I can’t remember when. I’d go back just for that lamb.
From the sides we sampled the asparagus, grilled and covered in copious quantities of grated pecorino, and the buttered spring cabbage, which was exactly that, perfectly cooked. What with those and the cauliflower and the rarebit, our veggie guest was in heaven.
Given what went before, the cheeseboard, advertised as a selection of British artisan cheeses, was a little disappointing especially when you consider how much amazing British cheese is out there. But the banoffee pie was delicious and rather bigger than we expected. Good.
The service was helpful, informed and efficient. Throughout we drank a perfectly good house sauvignon blanc, but the restaurant boasts a ‘stellar’ wine list with more than 20 wines by the glass. The room is decidedly unblingy and quite small, and feels more like a restaurant in a club. It would be a good choice for a celebratory lunch or dinner, without breaking the bank. If you ask nicely, they will probably give you a go on the golf.
Homemade Taramasalata by Mitchell Tonks
One smoked cods’ roe, about 250 gms
50 gms breadcrumbs
1 clove of garlic
Olive oil 200ml
Juice of one lemon
Whizz the breadcrumbs and garlic then add lemon juice to wet it down. Put in the cods’ roe – some leave the skin on for a stronger flavour, I prefer skin off – and whizz till mixed, then add olive oil until it starts to emulsify. Add a little cold water if it gets too thick. Delish.
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