Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

1761 Needs to Find Its Own Identity

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

1761 Needs to Find Its Own Identity

Article excerpt

S restaurant openings go, 1761 didn't get off to the most auspicious start.

AIll-judged plans to fill a fishtank with stingrays in its basement Bollinger bar, Lily's, provoked a backlash from animal lovers who branded it a 'cruel gimmick', forcing owners to abandon the idea.

It's not the only thing about the ostentatious £1m fit-out of the former Avalanche unit, near the town hall, that feels misguided.

Blingy chandeliers, gaudy flock wallpaper and heavy, draped red curtains sit completely at odds with the simple but superb cookery coming out of the kitchen.

Supposedly inspired by Manchester's industrial past - 1761 is the year the Bridgewater Canal was completed - there are the usual, grating cultural nods, too.

The doorhandles are giant bees and there are cocktails with cringey names like Hacienda, Our Kid and The Beekeeper (with honey in, naturally).

There's no such fuss or frippery when it comes to the food, thankfully. Head chef Oliver Walker's modern British menu is essentially good, honest pub grub, executed faultlessly.

A salt cod Scotch egg starter (£7.50) borrows cleverly from Spanish croquetas, with a crisp crumb and fluffy bacalao and potato filling clinging around jammy-yolked eggs.

For £6, the terrine could easily feed one for lunch. The tightlypacked puck of shredded ham hock comes with three generous chunks of sourdough, sweet onion chutney and rocket to send it on its way. A pile of bacon salt lends it all some smoky oomph.

Mains are reasonably priced, mostly around £12 to £13. At the top end of the scale, the spring lamb rump is worth every penny of its £19.50 price tag, seared, seasoned and rested to perfection, with a sharp chorizo, butterbean and tomato stew slicing through the richness.

Braised pork belly (£16) comes in a sizeable slab of melting meat and slowly rendered down fat, crowned with a crackling puff and a crispy black pudding bon bon. …

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