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Earle, Hale, Reviewed By Gordo

The Fat One likes the solid British virtues in middle England

Published on January 28th 2014.


Earle, Hale, Reviewed By Gordo
 

ONE thing that Gordo gets asked the most is what's his favourite restaurant? It's a difficult one to answer, particularly in the North West and especially in Manchester, a city in the grip of new restaurant fever. 

Earle is a good example of solid, new age British cooking, with emphasis on big, fine, stand out flavours.

There are many different cuisines well represented across the region; to choose between Punjabi and Szechuan is difficult when confronted with well-executed dishes of both areas. 

Gordo loves them both.  

Earle

 

Earle

Then of course there are the ingredients. Steak? Gaucho, RBG or Smoak at Malmaison?  

The latter's wing rib of sirloin from Frosty the Butcher, an eye watering £70 ( but you can feed three) could be said to have been the best. But then again, what about Gaucho grill’s amazing wet-aged striploins, or RBG’s rib-eye - a company that's gone to the length of owning their own herds, slaughtered in their own abatoir?  

So, what is Gordo’s favourite restaurant? It’s a hard question to answer; probably the best way is to think about favourite courses, then think of the restaurants that served them. The restaurant might forgotten, but the dish makes you remember it. 

One gaff that slipped from Gordo’s mind was Earle, owned by Channel 4’s TV chef, Simon Rimmer, over in Hale. 

It came to mind when thinking of good training chefs across the region, commented on in Gordo's review of 2013. Although not mentioned, it needs to be said that Simon is - for an un-classically trained chef - responsible for creating some brilliant chefs who have gone on to their own success across the region. 

Toward the end of 2008, Gordo had the dish of that year in Earle, a brilliantly seasoned, cooked and plated rose veal escalope. It's one of those dishes he can still close his eyes and see, smell and taste.

Capers were involved.   

Earle -season 08

 

Earle -season 08

Remembering that dish determined where he was having his Sunday lunch on a grim butcher's steel of a day in January.

Earle is essentially Simon’s idea of what an English/French brasserie should be. It has 'appetizers' which are listed before starters. Crispy veggie black pudding with grain mustard mayo (£3.50) is surprisingly good, a favourite dish of this and Mr Rimmer's other, hugely successful, veggie gaff in West Didsbury, Greens.  

As it was a Sunday, the set price menu was the way forward, with a few extras, as always. The price? One course, £12.95, two £16.95 and three £20.95. 

Make sure someone in the party has a double first in maths if you want to figure out the pricing structure. Otherwise, take your time and have an aperitif whilst you go through the menu, it’s a good one, confusingly written. 

Gordo had to be different and ordered a couple of appetisers on the day, crispy fried whitebait with lemon aioli (£5.75) and honey glazed pork chipolatas, spiced tomato ketchup (£6.75). The whitebait were crisp and crunchy, all the way to the bottom.

Whitebait[1]

Whitebait

An invisible dusting of cayenne pepper or something else a bit warm didn't destroy a great savoury, fresh-fishy flavour. 

The chipolatas made Gordo grin, good pork well seasoned and spiced sticky with honey attended by a great tomato dipping sauce, truly a star.

This is where Simon’s experience with vegetarian cooking wins out, having to create great dips and saucing just to make the vegetables taste nice. 

 Chipolatas[1]

 

Chipolatas

The wingman on the day, Lottie Moore, chose the pan-seared haloumi, warm caponata salad and roasted red pepper coulis.

Gordo isn't keen on haloumi, mainly because it always seems to him that it should be flattened out a bit more and used as roof tiles. She was delighted with it. Good for her. 

The whole roasted baby chicken, bread sauce, duck fat roast potatoes, carrot and swede mash, French beans, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pudding and roast gravy. 

Bloody hell, that took longer to write than eat. 

 Chicken main

 

Chicken main

Two mistakes. It wasn't a poussin (baby chicken) but half, or thereabouts, of a teenager. Good, but no one told Fatty about it. Then it arrived with no bread sauce. Gordo, bottom lip quivering like a girl, reminded the waitress. It was there in no time. But COLD.

Very naughty. It wasn't good when it arrived the second time either, hot but with the consistency of sticky rice; breadcrumbs added to hot milk. Bland. It appeared that the milk hadn't been steeped with bay leaves, let alone a couple of cloves, an onion and seasoning.

To be fair that was the only bad thing that happened, the chicken was great, with the legs moist, breast with flavour and crispy skin. The gravy had fun with a pretty darned good Yorkshire whilst the vegetables and roast potatoes, normally an afterthought, were on top form.

A vegetarian main course was also ordered; honey glazed feta, spinach and pistachio filo layered pie, roasted beetroot, rocket, sun blushed tomato salad, red pepper jam and cinnamon tomato sauce.

To be fair, it did have the word PIE in it.

Veg pie

Veg pie

Well, well, it turned out to be a really great idea; Lottie ate most of it, here are her thoughts. 

'A favourite on the menu, and of the waitress, the puff pastry spinach feta and pistachio tart was the star dish for me. Loved the nuttiness and kick of flavour you get from the cheese with the spinach balancing out.

Evident that they do the vegetarian dishes justice, novel that I'd opt for such. Red pepper purée added some moisture to the dish and was a welcome addition, with spicy tomato relish. I usually like a sauce but these paired quite nicely and was more than enough. Refreshing salad on the side, too much red onion for me but that’s a personal preference; maybe could have done with a couple of new potatoes thrown in there.'

Finally, a pudding. Winter spiced apricot bread and butter pudding, Baileys crème anglaise. A tad on the heavy side this one, but not done to the point of being sullen as many are. Very good flavours. Loved the Baileys crème anglaise, wouldn't mind that on a good syrup pudding. Ooh, there's a thought.

Bread and butter pudding

Bread and butter pudding

Service is young but assured, with a smile and not overly familiar as in some of the larger local chains.

Earle is a good example of solid, new age British cooking, with emphasis on big, fine, stand out flavours. Lots of thought is put into what goes together.

Gordo would be happy to sit at the bar and have a few beers with those ‘appetizers’ on the way home if he lived there, whilst a family celebrating a birthday would be happy. Not a bad place for a first date as well.

Gordo, five years on still likes the place. Go. You’ll get your money’s worth. Don’t be worried if you miss Rimmer. He’s looking a bit shifty with that beard these days.

Simon Rimmer and his new range of beards...er beers...

Simon Rimmer and his new range of beards...er beers...

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

Earle, 4 Cecil Rd, Hale, Altrincham, WA15 9PA. 0161 929 8869 

Rating: 15/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below, venues are rated against the best examples of their kind) 

Food:  7/10 (Chipolatas 7, Whitebait 8, Haloumi 7, Chicken 6, Veg pie 8, pudding 6)
Service: 4/5
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.

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

Georgina Hague shared this on Facebook on January 28th 2014.
JimJanuary 28th 2014.

I've been a few times but last time it was disappointing. I assume it was because it was over Xmas and they were missing a few dishes from the menu. Still it's a nice little restaurant in hale and is worth trying again.

Nikki DysonJanuary 28th 2014.

Gordo, go and try the Sunday lunch at Francs in Altrincham.

AnonymousJanuary 28th 2014.

No - go that little further out to the Church Mobberley for their Sunday lunch or evening meal.

Manci DoodleJanuary 28th 2014.

If this review was written by Gordo then why does it refer to him in the 3rd person? Please learn to write simple clear well written English or give up reviewing.

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialJanuary 28th 2014.

He's been doing this for ten years or more every month on Manchester Confidential. You'll get used to it. Now are you an American living in Manchester or an artist not very good at doodling?

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2014.

Went here on Saturday night for a birthday party in the private room upstairs, 12 of us in total. Excellent all round. Food was great, as it has been on the occasions i've been before, but mostly the staff made it an easy environment to relax and enjoy yourself. As Gordo says, some are on the younger side but all are attentive and well trained - therefore age is irrelevant. Our gathering was a tad rowdy (increasingly as the night went on) but the staff serving the room managed brilliantly and amended pre-ordered courses to suit some of the fickle diners (and those who couldn't remember what they'd ordered originally). They let us control the content and volume of our own music in the room (via a simple iPod connection) and kept the drink flowing - a dangerous strategy really, we kept expecting to be told to turn it down a notch, but no and we all had a really good time. Price point, for the privacy or our own space, two courses from the a la carte menu and a LOT of alcohol was £55pp which I thought was pretty good value. I'll certainly be going back, probably with 11 others.

AnonymousFebruary 5th 2014.

Been frequenting Earle approx 5 times per year since I moved to the area 5 years ago (as a couple and as part of large parties). Last couple of times (Autumn 2013) have been very dissapointed with food and above all service (or lack of). So much so that we've decided to give the place a miss for the forseeable future. The Bulls Head in Mobberley is a great alternative for a Sunday lunch and Amba Lounge just round the corner is superb for evening dining at a similar price.

AnonymousFebruary 10th 2014.

Finally a restaurant that understands Vegetarian food. I mean, how difficult can it be. Others should watch and learn!

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