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1847 Chorlton Reviewed

Ruth Allan goes all vegetarian southside

Published on March 28th 2013.


1847 Chorlton Reviewed
 

VEGGIE bistro, 1847, is the only upmarket veggie in the city centre. For almost three years it’s been a resounding hit and owner, Damien Davenport, has gone for gold by landing his second outlet in Chorlton. 

Kim’s chocolate torte performed solidly, melting creamily in the mouth, sexy with cherries and rich, foragey Black Forest flavours. 

As this area is the natural habitat of organic co-ops and men who wear brown rice as Cologne, the restaurant was obviously rammed on a chilly Tuesday - but more to the point, the food was better than I expected.  

Both Damien’s restaurants are named after the year the Vegetarian Society was founded (by the way the Society was dreamt up and created in Manchester and found its home in the area). Cooking at the new branch is similar to the original, which should please fans.

1847 Vegetarian Restaurant1847 Vegetarian Restaurant

I was particularly fond of the juniper cake created by original city centre head chef Wendy Swetnam (whose since left, taking her lovely cake with her) but dishes like baked cheese or veggie black pudding bon bon remain on a par with - or an edge above – the cooking at the city centre. 

I’d even go as far as suggesting the food is comparable to, if not better than, Didsbury’s Greens which remains the standard by which Manchester veggie restaurants are judged.  

In fact, the décor's a triumph too.

Swooping across the ceiling like dancers, peach white drapes flounce over the venue’s past life as a retail outlet. Tables huddle below. Oatmeal chairs are soft to the cheek and there’s a special 'private dining' bit lined in library-effect wallpaper. It made me think of somewhere Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter might get it on, somewhere like the back room at the Portico Library which oozes a secretive magic. 

1847 Vegetarian Restauran1847 Vegetarian Restaurant

For those who are not yet converts, expect better than snoozy veggie standards from the a la carte. Sweet potato, apple and chilli fritters with lime dressing or salt and pepper tofu with peanut sauce are typically punchy starters, while mains take in everything from herb gnocchi with spinach and basil cream to battered halloumi with mushy peas and hand-cut chips. 

According to a couple of intrepid veggies I know, battered halloumi is also house special at Brighton’s acclaimed Terre a Terre vegetarian restaurant. And while this smacks of out and out copying, it’s the kind of dish that even non-veggies like; a clever business move on Damien’s part perhaps. 

Talking of non-veggies, I took lapsed vegan Kim along for the ride and we mulled over the issue of eating out when you are a vegetarian as she swigged the house Shiraz. Indeed, tasty nutrition it can be a bit of a challenge when faced with your standard risotto or goats cheese options. 

Kim By The Window: mystery girlKim By The Window: mystery girl

Which is just one reason why starters like Kim’s mild mustard slaw with veggie black pudding bon bons (£4) was such a treat. Akin to tiny scotch eggs, it came with a richly savoury, celery-type flavour, tiny ‘shallot rings’ (like wedding-ring sized onion rings) perched on top. 

Testing the cheese route, I had a smoked fromage and mushroom gratin (£4), a dish packing the kind of sense-shaking flavour punch I used to crave when I was meat free. The downside was that the chef had gone bonkers with the peppercorns; I must’ve popped pretty much a palmful out of my mouth like chipped teeth. 

“Sexy, Ruth,” Kim said, between pops.  

Lacking the flair you'll find at Indian vegetarians like Bradford’s Prashad, my chickpea curry reminded me of the ones my mum used to make to use up pumpkins. Nice soft flavours with nothing too challenging or, indeed, recognisable. We munched on airy onion rings and mused over what was missing. Homemade naan perhaps, or some fragrant chutneys. 

Kim got lost in memories of London’s Rasa and we touched on the subject of Altrincham’s excellent Indian, Dilli. But comparisons with ‘real’ Asian restaurants seem unfair. I can see why they’ve got a curry on a vegetarian menu as it’s an alternative to ubiquitous cheese and carries flavour well.  Sure, it could’ve been more of one thing or another (Thai, south Indian, whatever) but Kim’s baked cheese more than made up for any failings. 

Shaped like a cheese space ship or surveillance drone, this delicious triangle was part soufflé, part quiche and all divine. What I really liked about it was that it was a whole meal that really tasted of cheese for once, rather than the meek flavours often associated with sauces and soufflés and it came with a light chutney smear, potatoes and greens.   

1847 Vegetarian Restaurant1847 Vegetarian Restaurant

In fact, the meal was cheap as dinners go. Starters and desserts cost just £4 while mains are £10 each and you can order children’s portions for half price. To test the kitchen, I tried a child’s sticky toffee pudding with thyme custard for dessert which, for just £2, was extraordinary value - even if the thyme had been held up somewhere on route.

Kim’s chocolate torte performed solidly, melting creamily in the mouth, sexy with cherries and rich, foragey Black Forest flavours. Service was good and, like I say, it was surprisingly cosy inside. Ideal, I reckon, for an affordable supper in what can be a pricey part of town.

You can follow Ruth Allan on Twitter here @RuthAllan.

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

Bistro 1847, 123 Manchester Road, Chorlton, M21 9PG. Tel: 0161 862 9557. Click here. 

Rating 14/20

Food: 7/10 (gratin 6.5, bon bons 7, curry 6, baked cheese 9, sticky toffee 6.5, chocolate torte 7) )
Service 3.5/5
Ambience 3.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

 

1847 Vegetarian Restaurant1847 Vegetarian Restaurant

1847 Vegetarian Restaurant1847 Vegetarian Restaurant

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14 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Richard HJMarch 28th 2013.

Must have got better since i visited early doors. The experience then was akin to having half a cauliflower lobbed at you whilst sitting in a shed.

1 Response: Reply To This...
food for thoughtMarch 28th 2013.

Agreed. Did expected a lot better myself. Cheap decor ( grey and sad) and unadventurous food, I definitively won't be back

JayMarch 28th 2013.

Having battered halloumi on the menu is hardly copying Terre a Terre, Leo's the chippy on Oldham Street do it perhaps TaT copied off them.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 28th 2013.

better without the batter for me....

AnonymousMarch 28th 2013.

The 1847 in town is absolutely brilliant, my favourite restaurant in Manchester.

I've never been to the Chorlton branch but I'm sure it isn't too different.

AnonymousMarch 28th 2013.

presentation seems to be an issue though. surely vegeterian food can look pretty?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
StephMarch 28th 2013.

Bit of crispy bacon on top would pretty it up a bit

AnonymousMarch 29th 2013.

Get a life Steph

paulus50March 28th 2013.

Went 2 weeks ago,as a non veggie,left very happy full & satisfied with all three courses !! Thanks 1847 !!!!

Dan O'tooleMarch 29th 2013.

Veggie or not this is a step in the right direction for anyone who enjoys good food and alternative options. Its second restaurant is also testament to how popular vegetarianism is becoming. There are some really skilful veggie chefs coming through at the moment, so hopefully we will start to see more decent non meat options in our regular restaurants as they realise that their only veggie option (mushroom risotto) just doesn't cut it anymore.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
food for thoughtMarch 29th 2013.

Boring.... It isn't good food, everything is deep fried and tasted of oil.
Skilful veggie chef coming through? Please name one...

AnonymousApril 1st 2013.

I think even if he named one you'd say they were shit just to be awkward.

Mark.March 29th 2013.

pmsl

Reader XxxApril 2nd 2013.

We went to 1847 in Chorlton a few months back and it was dreadful. The entire room smelt of boiled cabbage and everyone eating in there looked depressed, which became understandable when our food arrived!
The beetroot and potato cake was literally a big puddle of grated and boiled beetroot, no seasoning or anything.
It sounds like they've improved a bit, but my advice would still be to avoid...

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