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Earle, Hale

Gordo goes to the outer Rimmer of Greater Manchester

Written by . Published on September 8th 2008.


Earle, Hale

Simon Rimmer, owner of Greens (West Didsbury) and Earle (Hale) has different reasons than the rest of us for being involved in the restaurant world.

Gordo is writing this at home, listening to the Kinks. He has just played 'Lola' for the fifth time. He would happily do the same with Rimmer’s rose veal dish.

“Birds”, says Simon in answer to Gordo’s innocent question. Not the feathered kind either. It turns out that Simon’s major reason for opening what is arguably the best vegetarian restaurant in the UK many years ago was to impress as many bohemian ladies in West Didsbury as possible.

It’s different now. Happily married, Simon is the ‘owner driver’ of a second restaurant in Hale: Earle. Something of a departure from West Didsbury this, well known for its up-market types who do all the things the liberal luvvies hate and, by the looks of ‘em, couldn’t give a shit. Gordo likes that. Gordo’s brother, Chris, one lung, one kidney, not a lot of hair whilst smoking 60 Silk Cut a day is one of them. Not for long probably, so Gordo suggested dinner at Earle, seeing as Chris had been praising it a couple of weeks ago.

It’s in a spot across from the level crossing and a good deal different from Greens. For one thing, Simon has delivered a non-veggie menu, although a veggie wouldn’t be stuck for choice. The lad is famously non-veggie himself. Faux flock black and silver wallpaper is knocking about, a couple of tables on the right and left of the door, a bar which can handle a small overflow and a couple of areas at the back; maybe seventy plus covers. A lot smarter than Greens.

Simon has got used to small tables at Greens and sees no reason to go larger here. Gordo does, ‘cos it’s a bit cramped, but lively all the same. The tables are made to appear smaller than they are by large expensive plates. It turns out that Simon is on the tools tonight and comes over to say hello. The last time Gordo wrote about him he described him as a “bad tempered bastard” so Gordo was sweating a bit. Simon however was charming.

As is Phil Lees, gaffer of front of house. “Can you recommend the steak?” asks big brother Chris. “Yes, Sir, it’s very good,” replies Phil. “You silly old fucker, what do you think I am going to say, it’s like eating one of Simon’s trainers?” thinks Phil.

Simon sent out a taster plate of mushroom soup in a shot glass, chicken liver mousse on toast with a tiny slice of baby tomato and warm tartlet of cheese. All lovely with honest, gutsy flavours which turn out to be the hallmark of the rest of the evening’s tuck as it happens.

Buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil tart with a fresh garden pea and green bean salad (£5.75) was killer. This reminiscent of a similar dish that Michel Guerard, the three Michelin star chef, used to have on his menu in Eugenie les Bains in South West France. It was memorable for the lightness of pastry, the treatment of ingredients and the perfect delivery of the flavours. Simon's isn’t far off. A charming beginning.

Confit duck on toast – shredded duck leg on toasted walnut bread with plum sauce (£5.25) should be mentioned in dispatches, a plucky cross between rillets and the Chinese crispy duck. Simon isn’t afraid to mess around with other ideas to get something he likes and it works. Most chefs would screw it up.

He has some good-looking salads if you’re that way inclined. You can choose as a starter or main; risotto of baby beetroot and spinach topped with crispy vegetarian black pudding (£5.45/£8.95) caught Gordo’s eye. This is RS Ireland, the famous black pudding people’s product. It is simply fabulous.

Then followed one of Gordo’s main courses of the year. Farmer Sharpe’s English rose veal escalope with a herb and polenta crumb served with roast potatoes, spinach and salsa verdi (£18.25). God in heaven, thank you. This dish is what our Simon is all about. And marks Earle as being far away from the designer food in other chain restaurants you see on every high street, particularly in Hale. It’s an example of what a self trained chef who cooks for himself and his family will bring into his owner driven restaurants. The best produce for one.

This rose veal is a fabulous example of careful, loving farming. Supplied by Farmer Sharpe (who he, ed?), it melted. But before that it sang, its perfectly balanced herbed crust doing a duet with the tangy salsa verdi, the salty, chewy capers lending a bit of bass. Blimey this was good. The roast potatoes were giving the escalope a piggy back and were class. Oh my. Gordo is writing this at home, listening to the Kinks. He has just played 'Lola' for the fifth time. He would happily do the same with this dish.

A big bowl of mixed seasonal vegetables (£2.75) has been passed around the table, crunchy and not buggered about with.

Crème brulee with homemade shortbread biscuit (£5.50) was described as “a bit heavy” by Chris, Gordo thought it pretty good himself. He also thought the apple and blueberry crumble with double custard (£5.50) was even more fun to stare at than the window display in Agent Provocateur. It had to be left a while, the kitchen brigade cook it in a nuclear reactor. The crumble is stickily crunchy, the fruit just cooked. Maybe a few more blueberries? The custard was gorgeous.

Wine list is good, but lazily Gordo has forgotten the details: a Gavi di Gavi was excellent at £23 or so whilst the house red, a Chilean cabernet sauvignon was enjoyable.

Simon Rimmer has done a good job with this, his second restaurant and has shown that he can cook across the spectrum as good as most of the classically trained chefs in the area. He is also to be commended in his training and management skills. The jungle drums have been telling Gordo for a while that quality at both Greens and Earle holds up well. Apparently Greens is closed at the moment, Simon has bought the shop next door and is knocking the two together to nearly double the covers. Gordo will keep you all informed.

Rating: 17/20
Breakdown: 8/10 Food
4.25/5 Service
4.75/5 Ambience
Address: Earle
4 Cecil Rd
Hale
Altrincham
Cheshire
WA15 9PA
0161 929 8869

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

FiSeptember 8th 2008.

A good restuarant is about consistancy. Are you saying only this week's comments count Anon.?

AnonymousSeptember 8th 2008.

We was also in on the same night and we like gordo had a wonderful time. Amazing food and attentive service despite the fact that they were obviously packed that evening.

charlotte, Lenny, Debbie and BonySeptember 8th 2008.

After reading your superb review we couldn't wait to tuck into the food on offer at Earle, only to be severely disappointed! The mozarella tart, you say was 'killer' we beg to differ, killers and tarts are interesting which is more than we can say for the bland tasteless manufactured offering we experienced, the ribeye steak was masquerading as a 'sir' loin! The burger should be renamed as 'brazenburger' and to end it all the front of house shooed us off the table to make way for the next sitting,after only an hour and 25 minutes!!

rosieSeptember 8th 2008.

very poor service,average food,and,if you put strawberries on as a valentine's special,they really should be ripe

Starvin MarvinSeptember 8th 2008.

Marvin will double up on that promise of 5 pounds if you carry on writing in the third person Gordo.

FiSeptember 8th 2008.

A good restuarant is about consistancy. Are you saying only this week's comments count Anon.?

RichardSeptember 8th 2008.

The food must be a lot better when Simon Rimmer is in the kitchen because when I went there 2 months ago, the flacid duck confit on soggy bread was awful. The steak was also tasteless. There is a decent butchers across the road selling meat 10 times better than Earle's supplier! The last time we went there we were ignored for 5 minutes on arrival and then treated indifferently. Hale is short of decent restaurants but I won't be going back. PS I am glad MC allows freedom of speech - Onionring will now only publish "good" restaurant reviews! What a pointless exercise.

AnonymousSeptember 8th 2008.

what I love about mc is how someone can go for a meal '2' months ago and still have a bee in his bonnet about it. dear me richard.

James KaySeptember 8th 2008.

I'm glad that Gordo's brother, Chris, has managed to cut down to 60 Silk Cut a day! Must be the thought of having to go outside and mix with the great unwashed that's made him cut down! Can ManCon send him and Mrs. G my regards... one of the nicest guys I've ever worked for (and one of the best to impersonate!)

Simon TSeptember 8th 2008.

Tom, "arguably" is a good word. It doesn't quite mean you're making the claim to be the best vegeterian restaurant in the UK does it? It means you would enter into an argument to try to prove it. This is "arguably" the least interesting post EVER.

mark mSeptember 8th 2008.

Mark thinks he likes Gordo's style of prose

AnonymousSeptember 8th 2008.

We were in the same night as Gordo and the food was good (especially the veggie black pudding startef )however, the service was below par. The front of house seemed more concerned/distracted by Gordo's party and so my main was mis heard and i had to send it back. Also had to ask twice for a glass of wine which took 15-20 mins to arrive. We still managed a pleasant evening even if the wine was not free flowing.

mark mSeptember 8th 2008.

I think since the arrival of phil front of house the place has got much better. Simon's food is good, but lacks consistancy. This is, of course, one of the biggest things that people rate restaurants by.

dan, rich & mia-leaSeptember 8th 2008.

sorry if im missing the point simon and tom but isnt the write up on earl not greens! just because they are own'd by the same person dosent mean that man con are commenting on both places!ANYWAY we went to Earl on tuesday (9/9/08)and was met with a smile! we had a lovely meal and would defo make the trip back!

Tom GSeptember 8th 2008.

I thought Greens was very poor last time I was there. Very dubious about it being "arguably the best vegetarian restaurant in the UK".

hannahSeptember 8th 2008.

Gordo I will give you a fiver if you do a review like a normal person. Its annoying, irratating, infurating and not fun to read how you refer yourself as the third person always.

dan,rich & mia-leaSeptember 8th 2008.

we are hedding your way tomos for lunch hope its as good as it sounds! is it just us or do phill and simon look like long lost brothers?

RichardSeptember 8th 2008.

Anonymous - yes it was 2 months ago and bad enough to still be memorable! I complained to the restaurant and put a review on Onionring (which they refused to publish as they only publish "good"reviews) No doubt you happily lap up sh*** food and pay over the odds for it - that's why the standard of restaurant food is so poor in Manchester - we don't complain enough!

maySeptember 8th 2008.

i went there a few months ago and simon was in the kitchen then....food was good (better than the last time i went to Greens!). Me and my party were intrigued by the fairy cakes on the desert menu so Simon sent one out as a taster...have to say my 4 year old nephew makes better fairy cakes so i would avoid them (not that you would really go to a restaurant and eat fairy cakes anyway)....rant over

charlotte, Lenny, Debbie and BonySeptember 8th 2008.

After reading your superb review we couldn't wait to tuck into the food on offer at Earle, only to be severely disappointed! The mozarella tart, you say was 'killer' we beg to differ, killers and tarts are interesting which is more than we can say for the bland tasteless manufactured offering we experienced, the ribeye steak was masquerading as a 'sir' loin! The burger should be renamed as 'brazenburger' and to end it all the front of house shooed us off the table to make way for the next sitting,after only an hour and 25 minutes!!

MCSeptember 8th 2008.

Please go to Earle for their soup and sandwich lunch - £6.95!!! Wonderful soup and choice of sandwiches. Very good! MC

FiSeptember 8th 2008.

Fool? Charming. Gordo is so well-known in Manchester amongst restaurateurs, they clearly bend over backwards when he dines with them. As one of the comments above says, his/her party experienced poor service as a result of ManCon being in the restaurant. A one-off review is meaningless. All the major food guides -Harden's, Michelin, Good Food Guide - visit a restaurant several times before they are entered into the guide; in order to judge consistancy. Look at the Angel review; 'ordinary' customers, i.e. the ones that really matter, are making the same comments

RobSeptember 8th 2008.

If you think that was good Gordo you just went on a run of the mill night. I'm going to Earle tonight for a gourmet night. Was there for the last one and it's probably the best meal I've ever had.Bring it on Mr. Rimmer - let's see if you can beat last time's

SueSeptember 8th 2008.

visited Earle last night for the Sept gourmet evening, the food was wonderful and the service was excellent as usual. We use Earle on a regular basis and are never disappointed. Phil Lees, the Manager always makes us really welcome and we find the food good whether Simon is in the kitchen or not. Definately stands out as one of the friendliest and better buzzng eateries in Hale.

Clara McMahonSeptember 8th 2008.

Fi, it's a food review you fool. People judge from one visit otherwise they'd have to go every night. Trust 'em or not. Up to you.

starvinSeptember 8th 2008.

rimmer and the birds, in his dreams maybe

NortherngeezerSeptember 19th 2010.

Did Earle over the weekend on the hero's card and a nice saving of 17.50 was much appreciated.
The food, Mrs Geezers Tomato, Red Pepper and Basil soop was full of flavour, i'll gloss over my own Spanish meat platter tho.
My Monkfish was ok, well cooked but nowt out of the ordinary, but me other halfs pork chop was succulent, tasty, and very moorish. Soggy spinach let both dishes down however.
Puds, again i got the shitty end of the deal, the jellied panacotta was tasteless but the stiggy toffee pud was a lot more palatable. Passed on the wine but the champagne lager went down a treat.
Would i go back, probably, but a daily specials menu wouldnt go amiss.

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