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Gabriel’s Kitchen review

Jonathan Schofield finds a lovely little place just south of the city centre

Written by . Published on February 17th 2009.


Gabriel’s Kitchen review

“It was down near Manchester Airport,” says Peter Booth, proprietor and chef of Gabriel’s Kitchen. “We bumped into a tree surgeon. This Manchester Poplar tree had come down and we got chatting. He let us have the tree which is how we ended up with a lot of the fittings here. You can see how it was done on the photos. The filling is parquet flooring we got on eBay really cheap.”

And the toilet is a birch forest.

But all this is very Peter Booth. He likes things solid, he likes to know where they come from, he wants to get a grip on the raw materials and feel the texture. Behind the counter is a map of the north west showing where his food is sourced. It’s somehow reassuring.

Booth took a photograph of the trees at Birchwood. The photo was printed onto wallpaper for £250 or so and then put on the toilet walls. The trees at Birchwood used to be part of the notoriously marshy Chat Moss. So here we have a forest round the bog. Excellent.

The tiles on the walls came from another smart bit of recycling, as did other features around Gabriel’s Kitchen. Forget catering - Booth needs his own TV programme on cheap but effective interior design. He’s a magpie. I’m going to watch out for him going through my bins.

But all this is very Peter Booth. He likes things solid, he likes to know where they come from, he wants to get a grip on the raw materials and feel the texture. Behind the counter is a map of the North West showing where his food is sourced. It’s somehow reassuring.

You may even recognise the man. He’s the one who’s been running the Whitworth Art Gallery cafe to such good effect in recent years, gathering awards with insouciant regularity. You might also recognise his accent. It’s so strongly Scouse he just needs to talk to the potatoes and they peel themselves.

The food is living up to Booth’s reputation.

On my first visit I had the hotpot of mutton shoulder, pickled cabbage and a selection of, as always, tip top Barbakan breads (£7.95). It looked cracking and tasted it too, with the spuds layered over the top as they should be.

The mutton shoulder was exceptional. This comes from, as does all the fresh meat, Mettricks in Glossop. You may have heard of this place, it’s probably the region’s best-known family butcher, with flocks of sheep and herds of cattle on the high hills, its own abattoir in the town and an obsessive owner. John Mettrick is on the phone all the time to Booth asking him what he thought of the flesh he’s supplied. Well, John, you madman, if you’re reading this congrats on the mutton. It had flavour and texture and was raised to end up in a hotpot.

A papperdella pasta, with broccoli, flat parsley, pine nuts and pecorino (£6.95) was a winner for my lunch mate. This was Anne Tucker of Manchester International Arts who co-ran Streets Ahead and now organises the regular calendar of fun at Platt Fields park. She needs an MBE one day for services to Manchester entertainment. Anne travels the world looking for new acts and knows her food. To her mind, "the pasta was perfectly al dente, the broccoli cooked right and the whole dish immensely satisfying."

I had some spies in Gabriel’s Kitchen recently too. One fella loved the Goosnargh chicken liver pate, white onion confit and rye toast so much he wouldn’t shut up about it – “rich, strong, rugged, and lovely,” were his words.

Drinks are of the soft variety at present. I had a dandelion and burdock. An alcohol licence with food may follow shortly. The coffee was good by the way.

It’s odd how places sort of randomly link up. Gabriel’s Kitchen is named after Peter Booth’s son, Gabriel, not the Archangel. But before Booth’s place it had been Fallen Angels, which brings to mind Lucifer. This gaff has also been Dolphins kebab emporium.

In 2004 Dolphins was all over the news. It’d been raided by police on an al-Qaeda terror grab and arrests were made in the flat over the take-away. As is the way with these things, there was as much substance to the al-Qaeda links as there was real meat in one of the kebabs sold below. But one of the newspapers conjectured wildly about suspected ‘terror equipment being made from recycled parts’.

Recycling again.

Peter Booth recycles with more peaceable components. And his food shows attention to detail and a real belief (not a hollow fashion following commitment) in buying local when possible. You can’t see the police raiding his new place except perhaps to take into custody one of his Full English Breakfasts (£6.95) with its mouth-wateringly explosive components of dry cured bacon, pork sausage, black pudding, egg, and sautéed potatoes.

A builder working next door said this was one of the best breakfasts he’d ever eaten.

I won’t take many recommendations from a man in a hi-visibility jacket and a helmet holding a monkey wrench but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt over that. I’ll be in next week to see for myself.

Rating: 14.5/20
Breakdown: 7/10 Food
4/5 Decor
3.5/5 Ambience
Address: Gabriel’s Kitchen
265 Upper Brook Street
(back of the Hospitals parallel to Oxford Road)
Manchester
M13 9TD

Breakfast served 7.30-11.30am
Lunch served 11.30-4.30pm Monday/Saturday, 11.30-3.30 pm Sunday

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: Gordo gets carried away

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

mark mFebruary 17th 2009.

Just a quick note of interest to a few. Fallen Angels was Rosie's dad's restaurant!! I really fancy having a mutton hotpot. Have thought it should be on most lancashire pub menus

AnonymousFebruary 17th 2009.

Having eaten at the Whitworth cafe many times I thought I better give this a go,went with my wife and kids on Saturday morning for brekkie, superb quality food, the pancakes were exceptional and the kids cleared their plates for a change, well worth the short drive from M16.Will be back soon

SteveFebruary 17th 2009.

Great review, will give it as go soon. Petra next door is a great middle Eastern with a BYO, on a par with Aladdin.

AnnaFebruary 17th 2009.

Looking forward to checking this out soon but just to say that Mettricks do the best beef burgers in the world! I always get a load when I am back home near Glossop. Another reason to check out Gabriel's Kitchen.

lesleyFebruary 17th 2009.

This sounds great and we will try it soon. However I thought it might have scored a food 8 from your description .

the friendly scouserFebruary 17th 2009.

Them rants are very right higher food scores please , its the best breakfast in the city..... thanks for your kind words mr scholfield and of course all you ranters and regular customers xxx

janineFebruary 17th 2009.

Dear Mr Schofiled,in your breakdown, could you include advice on accessibility. I'd like to try out Gabriel's but can I park nearby? or should I get the bus? thanks.

SueFebruary 17th 2009.

A fab addition to the long walk from the hospital car park. I took my 18month old daughter for the most perfect soft boiled egg and soilders - delicious

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