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Gourmet Evening: Mark Addy

Jennifer Choi loves a galaxy of NW flavour down by the river

Published on June 1st 2010.

Gourmet Evening: Mark Addy

I have a confession to make. Like several of you, I wasn't bowled over by Robert Owen Brown's (ROB) food at The Angel. Sure it was tasty and there were sparks of brilliance, but I was expecting more.

The stomach delights in stodge alone but the soul delights in a balance of playfulness, adventure and respect.

Mancon held their last Christmas bash at ROB's new place, the Mark Addy, and despite all the best intentions to give his food a renewed and proper scrutiny, a free bar and the company of seasoned drinkers (Gordo and the editor) got the better of me.

And so it was until a fateful invite to his Gourmet Evening last week (click here), I had never quite understood the fuss about this ‘ginger-haired maverick’.

A mystery six-course feast beckoned, with promises of seasonality, locality and most of all genius. So, pretty companion in tow (de rigeur for all 'proper' food critics these days it seems), we descended the canal-side stairs and perched between the River Irwell and the kitchen pass and awaited our culinary ecstasies. No pressure.

Yet somehow, ROB managed to stay on this pedestal. When this ROB fella is on form, a song of praise writes itself. The menu read like a local service train, name-checking all the nooks and crannies in the North West - Fylde coast asparagus, Morecambe Bay shrimps, Uncle Joe's mint balls from Wigan... and the execution was consistently good and done with flair.

The stomach delights in stodge alone but the soul delights in a balance of playfulness, adventure and respect. It's not food snobbery because anyone can feel saddened by an over-poached egg and unexcited by even the tastiest but poorly set jelly, but also you can feel equally lifted by a beautifully roasted rack of lamb. Forget gender, education, class or race – ROB’s cooking will speak to you. Here was his hymn to the region:

A plump, bread-crumbed, poached hen's egg sat regally on a sedan chair of bright green, firm asparagus tips. Morecambe bay shrimp shot of 'soup' stood guard over a fishcake made of Dab, a sustainable and increasingly popular fish of choice. Pink wood pigeon breasts were tickled by a delicate mess of peppery pea shoots and a whimsical swirl of elderberry. Cubes of red velvet beetroot danced around a handsome rack of succulent lamb. Vimto jelly wobbling contentedly by a creamy and nostalgic shot of Uncle Joe’s mint balls. And of course, who else but Mrs Kirkham and a few of her star Lancashire cheeses to finish the show.

If we were to tick boxes, this evening could have easily been a condensed episode of the best bits of Great British Menu: the North West. To sum up, mine has become one of the many converted mouths which will water at the prospect of future visits.

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

AnonymousJune 1st 2010.

I think if he wants to really be recognised as a great chef, he needs to drag himself away from the late nineties/ early noughties and freshen up the food a bit. Granted, some ingredients are timeless and classic but some have been plastered all over 'gastro pub' style menus for so long that they're, well boring really. The usual suspects, Mrs Kirkhams, Blacksticks, Morecambe Bay shrimps, asparagus and egg, Black Pudding etc etc. It's not just the Mark Addy that needs to move on, but a lot of Manchester restaurants. Albert's Shed at Castlefield is getting there.

AnonymousJune 1st 2010.

Went to Mark Addy before xmas and enever again. Most appalling evening ever - seated with a view of piles of dirty plates in kitchen, in a room that was cold and damp (we didn't remove our coast) but the single worst thing was the overpowering smell of toilets and drains. Yuck yuck yuck. Never again. Far more exciting, lighter and brighter places to eat in Manchester any day of week!

Smyth HarperJune 1st 2010.

Does Robert Owen Brown insist on being known as ROB, as opposed to Rob. It's a mildly irritating moniker (particularly, Mancon, since it is usual house style for publications to capitalise the first letter of an acronym with the rest in lower case, hence Nato, Aids and - in this case - Rob).

But I actually didn't come on here to slag him off! Because I've been to the Mark Addy as well and my experice differs somewhat to the two described above. The food was gorgeous, service impeccable and restaurant warm. And this was back in January when it was baltic!

Would recommend a visit. In fact, I'd quite like to go now lol.

NortherngeezerJune 1st 2010.

Its like when websites and online newspapers call Sir Alex Ferguson SAF............WTF, i H8 abreviations, lol.

AgricolaJune 1st 2010.

Smitty, did you put lol. Shame on you, are you seventeen. Anyway shouldn't it be LOL, or Lol.

InitialthoughtsJune 1st 2010.

They probably do that because its the initials of all those proper nouns in his name, and Nato should always be NATO.

Smyth HarperJune 2nd 2010.

Oh, I love a good pedantry scrap.

Agricola you are quite correct, it shouldn't be lol - it should be LOL as it is a simple abbreviation rather than an acronym. An acronym is an abbreviation that spells a word and should be written with the first letter capped and the rest lower case. An abbreviation (or if we want to be all American about it, an initialism) should be written all in caps as you should when reading it say the letters rather than the word.

Hence, and you're wrong on this intialthoughts, Nato should always be Nato, not NATO, but the UN should always be the UN and not Un.

For more info on this fascinating subject, may I recommend the Guardian's style guide at http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide/

As for writing lol, well what can I say except I can't help being "with it".

Smitty is 94.

InitialthoughtsJune 2nd 2010.

Smitty honestly LOL is so lame. But I disagree, nobody writes the Tuc, they write TUC. And that's the same as NATO isn't it?

Smyth HarperJune 2nd 2010.

I have to agree that lol is lame. I am, in fairness, pretty lame (I find Eat Shoots and Leaves vaguely arousing). In my defence, I am merely writing an informal comment as opposed to Mancon which is the city's leading online publication and should thus be held to a higher standard than little old me. Although I do accept it's hypocricy.

TUC is not an acronym, it's an abbreviation, you pronounce it as T-U-C as opposed to tuck. Whereas Nato you say as a word as it is an acronym, hence only the first letter is capitalised.

I really could bore about this for hours so please just tell me to stop...

InitialthoughtsJune 2nd 2010.

It's fun, but we say FIFA and it's never written Fifa. Same for UEFA. All gripping stuff.

NortherngeezerJune 2nd 2010.

I had an acronym once, but the cream off the doc worked and it cleared up a treat.

Leigh ScottJune 2nd 2010.


NortherngeezerJune 2nd 2010.


AgricolaJune 2nd 2010.

Vimto is an abbreviation, short for vip and vim tonic, with the last two words forming the name. It's an anagram of vomit.

AgricolaJune 2nd 2010.

Shit is an acronym of Smitty Helps Intial Typos.

Smyth HarperJune 2nd 2010.

OK, I promise I'll stop now, but all good news outlets write Fifa and Uefa. I have headlines to prove this, and don't think I won't use them...

You see Mancon, this is why you should bring back the general rants page. All of us are ignoring poor old Jennifer's great review and aren't giving our views on the Mark Addy (which I still think is great by the way).

Leigh ScottJune 2nd 2010.


NortherngeezerJune 2nd 2010.

I presume poor old Jennifer is the girl in the piccy with her 'bangs' covering her 'baubles'..........and thats not an acronym.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 2nd 2010.

Northerngeezer that isn't Jennifer no. That's Jennifer's guest.

NortherngeezerJune 2nd 2010.

I love the piccy with the flower in the foreground and the Irewell in the background................yer cant polish a turd can yer eh.

NortherngeezerJune 2nd 2010.

Irewell??..................FFS (Is that an acronym??)

JenniferJune 2nd 2010.

Nice review, Jennifer!

The gourmet evening sounds great - I wish I'd heard of it in time to get a ticket.

To be honest, I've had mixed experiences at the Mark Addy. First visit, not longer after it opened, was fantastic. Returned with friends on a busy Saturday night and it was dreadful (sandy clams, overcooked fish). However, I went back a couple of weeks ago and had a lovely meal with great service. I just hope they don't break my heart next time...

Liane BaddeleyJune 3rd 2010.

I said this on another page, but feel so strongly about it that I'm saying it again! ... We've eaten at The Mark Addy a few times in the last six months - and have been consistently very impressed. The care and attention of both the waiting and kitchen staff has been superb, with dishes expertly prepared and presented; and fantastic ingredients. I'm a keen restaurant visitor and have lived in Manchester for a decade; and can honestly say that nowhere else in the city centre has impressed me as much as this. I hope Rob and team continue to do well!

NortherngeezerJune 3rd 2010.

As with most things in life LB, its all about opinions, and your entitled to yours, same as the rest of us.

Chef EndoJune 3rd 2010.

I understand that rob can knock out sometimes allright food but I have eat there and I had the blackpudding hash cake which was served to me in no less then four minutes which for a big hash cake is amazing I am a chef and there is only one way that was cooked as the center was probley around 75'c The good old magic box.
Then also why does no one say anything about cooking a whole pig on a spit ( scanfolding poles) right next to the river which can not be the most hygenic way of cooking a pig or of course the filing cabinet what more can I say about that.
Iam sure if another place reyes to do the same we would be shut down by the local council.

Leigh ScottJune 3rd 2010.

ooooh smell the bitterness...

chef 1June 3rd 2010.

Gourmet? Realy? i dont think so! standard grub cooked by a 'past best' chef

Chef EndoJune 3rd 2010.

Bitterness? Hardly, however any up and coming chefs watching "ROB's" songs of praise be sung by critics who, just incedentally, are being served free meals anyway, could be forgiven for feeling bitter. Also, any head chef who seriously sweats to keep a current and competitive menu will be wondering why "ROB's" dated menu, executed in an even more dated manner, continues to win praise from any serious, self-respecting food critic.

Leigh ScottJune 3rd 2010.

Reveal yourself Chef Endo, it's all falling on deaf ears at the moment...

Chef EndoJune 3rd 2010.

All u need to know is that iam a very hard working head chef who loves food everthing about food and it kills me to see reveiws about free food what hope is there for the rest of the chefs in Manchester, we cannt and won't give free food away just to get a reveiw

JennJune 3rd 2010.

Chef Endo, yes it's a free meal. It's an advertorial, not a review. I think it's been explained time and again on various ManCon articles that only reviews are scored.

Having said that, I watched the pass and what I was being served was exactly the same as everyone else who paid that evening, and the food was good.

Scott NeilJune 4th 2010.

loving the LOL debate. that poached egg looks fine, i hope you and your (most fragrant) companion enjoyed the asparagus Jenn! i suppose Anon makes an interesting point w the first comment, but, there again, these are quality ingredients aren't they? ROB strikes me as a sort of northern Fergus Henderson.
P.S. was blown away in one pub recently w a white pudding/smoked duck/rabbit terrine starter.
probably not the most high-tech dish ever, sure, but good ingredients and clearly took very real skill. a good gastropub is a thing of beauty.

Liane BaddeleyJuly 8th 2010.

Re: NorthernGeezer - "As with most things in life LB, its all about opinions, and your entitled to yours, same as the rest of us." Erm,... isn't that a kind-of obvious statement, for a 'rant' forum?! Cheers anyway :)

AeronAugust 16th 2011.

So here I am, having just been sent a message by a friend suggesting we try the Mark Addy for our Friday night jaunt. I've been there for afternoon drinks (very pleasant) but not for an evening meal. I know, thinking out loud, I'll check out Man Con's latest review. Sadly, I Google upon this, an advertorial, which I obviously cannot attach must weight to, as money has exchanged hands. Nor can I really take note of the comments - they're always far too subjective. I will, however, take issue with Smyth, whom I know. What he took several posts to say about acronyms, I'll say in one sentence: If an acronym is universally pronounced as a word, like Aids, Uefa, Fifa and Unesco, it is written like a proper noun, whereby, if it is initialised, like HIV, WWF and UN, it is capitalised. PS, Smyth, never refer to the Gruniad when discussing matters spelling, grammar and house-style. The Times is the oracle. You've been in Pr too long ;)

AeronAugust 16th 2011.

*much (even)

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