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Grenache, Walkden, Reviewed

Gordo thinks this restaurant is a real star

Published on July 23rd 2012.

Grenache, Walkden, Reviewed

It didn't start well. The only table available was either 6.15pm or 9:30pm. Gordo agreed, under pressure to do the early one.

Like all good threesomes, the chicken, ham and stuffing were well perfumed and gentle with each other.
The traffic coming out of town to Walkden, the hometown of Gordo's accountants, was terrible and the taxi driver was being a bit of a cheeky chappy en route, possibly maximising the mileage, but Gordo was too knackered to start an argument.

Apologies, readers, in advance for the pictures in this article; the Fat One left the good camera in the taxi. Which irritated him no end. So, the pictures you have are courtesy of iPhone. 

Ruth Allen, editor of Taste of Manchester magazine had decided that it was about time her and Fatty had a look at Grenache, neither had yet been and it had recently been awarded the best restaurant in the North West by The Good Food Guide, a reliable source.

Grenache is in a warren of one way side streets just off the main drag and is a more of a shop front than a restaurant. It looked, however, freshly spruced up on the outside, with the interior scrubbed clean with small  tables and comfortable high backed chairs in cream and soft reds, a contemporary hug of a place.

The pair were greeted with a big smile.

Gordo likes that, only a good back scratching can beat it. Apologising for being late, a good looking feller with a salt and pepper goatee asked Gordo if he was Rachel. Er, no.

It then dawns on Gordo that the PA had been booking him in under a cloak and dagger pseudonym. Maybe Rachel could have been a bit more ingenious. Huss, as this feller's name was, told Gordo there was no problem and had switched him onto a later booking. This lad is on the ball.

Ruth and Gordo were seated, served two cheeky sharpener G&Ts and were given a couple of cubed, breaded and  deep fried 'ham hock' starters on sticks. Gordo keeps on getting let down with these, deep fried or not. Too solid, poorly seasoned and bland. These weren't. They were bloody lovely. As was the side of piccalilli, a smooth affair with kick. A warm glow came over Gordo. Was this going to better than he had thought?

A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Three Stones, value at £22.95, was opened. At that point a text came through. The next passenger had found my bag in the taxi and had sent me the telephone number of the cabbie. The glow got warmer.

Madame, I love you.

Huss was at the table, telling Gordo that his choice of red was out of stock, but he could recommend an Amarone della Valpolicella as an alternative. This turned out to be a lush day out in a bottle. It's a bit heavy on the price (£44.95) but well worth it. As a matter of interest, the wine list makes its way into Gordo's favourites, many bottles that Gordo would drink on civilian evenings under twenty quid.

First choice for Gordo was mackerel (£6.75), beet root and (very) creamy goats cheese, with orange segments properly dealt with - see main picture above. Ooh, this was good. The ingredients were  top notch, tick, but the bonus was really thoughtful handling from the kitchen. Delightful and refreshing, the white wine turning out to be a good foil with the sweetness and acidity of the beetroot. 

Ruth took the asparagus and poached egg with truffled hollandaise (£6.50). The egg was taken out of the bath twenty seconds too soon. All else was trouble free and as smooth as silk. Good asparagus as well.

Grenache AsparagusGrenache Asparagus

Gordo's main was confit of belly pork (£14.95), a big bruiser of a portion, creamy, fatty, piggy and tender, beautifully seasoned, sat on a potato mash with sage, a large square of crackling (more seasoning here guys, please) and a cushion of cabbage and bacon.

Huss let the side down slightly, as a side dish that Gordo had asked for wasn't on, so he recommended the cabbage and bacon. One small slip. The sides were £2.50, but weren't needed, the portions are comforting and certainly the pork and Ruth's chicken (£15.95) wrapped in Parma ham were well complemented with the plated partners.

That chicken, by the way, was another well executed dish, cooked to the point where it was still moist with a stuffing making a welcome bed partner.

A cheese course was shared to help finish off the Amarone, five choices that need a little more care in the choosing. The smoked Lancashire was just like most smoked cheeses, rubbery and ordinary. More adventure here folks.

Also, with the cheese menu (£6.25), a note inspired by the accountants. 'Why not add some grapes,' asked KPMG, 'for just 50p'. Bloody hell Huss, you've just up-sold me a fiver on the sides you tight bleeder, you should be throwing the grapes in.

Puddings. It's not often that Gordo thinks: "Deep fried plums with sugar and cinnamon, come and sit on Uncle Gordo's lap..." but for some reason, Gordo ordered them.

Ruth chose panacotta with berries (£5.95). The panacotta was perfect, the berries a bad match, overwhelming the delicate creaminess with their acidity. But still enjoyable.

Back to them plums.

Scarlet Johansson is arguably the most kissable woman on the planet. Those plums (£5.95) aren't arguably the most eatable pudding on the planet. They just are. Smear a little cream on one, dip in the damson compote and go straight to heaven folks. Very, very horny.

Gordo's Pudding Of The YearGordo's Pudding Of The Year

Grenache deserves its award from the Good Food Guide.  There are matches for it, in the 'local family restaurant' top five awards, which includes Spire over in Liverpool, Damson, in Heaton Moor as well as Players and Amba in Hale.

But Grenache has a secret weapon; they have just imported Mike Jennings, a chef with a point to prove and an attention to detail that will reward him with more accolades in time. Them plums were his dish. This lad can cook, he is worth keeping in mind next time you fancy a big, blousy, tasty dinner.

Another bonus is a front of house team who are truly wonderful. Even the restaurant's taxi driver on the way home was a credit to them. And a tenner cheaper than the black cab. A lesson for you there, eh Huss?

You can follow Gordo on Twitter here @GordoManchester


Grenache, 15 Bridgewater Rd, Walkden, Worsley, Manchester M28 3JE 0161 799 8181      

Rating: 16.25/20
Food: 7.75/10
Service: 4.5/5
Ambience: 4/5

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.

Inside GrenacheInside Grenache

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

AnonymousJuly 23rd 2012.

When was this Gordo?

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoJuly 23rd 2012.

Last Thursday Anon, any reason for the question?

GordoJuly 23rd 2012.

Thursday anon, any reason for the question?

AnonymousJuly 23rd 2012.

Not really Gordo, just wondering if it was recent. Went a few weeks back and service was a little too "in your face" for me but food was spot on!

AnonymousJuly 23rd 2012.

In your face he may be,but passionate about what he provides and deliveres, keep on being you Huss and stuff those who can't take the banter.GREAT place.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Lindsey MacdonaldJuly 26th 2012.

Thank you for your kind words.
Lindsey, Manageress.

AnonymousJuly 24th 2012.

I love this place but why do we have to have food served on slate! Eurrgh the noise when you are trying to get that last little bit of sauce.. Nice presentation, but fingernails-on-a-chalkboard is not a pleasant way to end a meal.

AnonymousJuly 24th 2012.

Surely that should be 16.25/20, Gordo?

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialJuly 24th 2012.

Yes, thanks

bigearsJuly 24th 2012.

Didn't say i cant take the banter - wasn't actually Huss who was the problem. I've been at least 5 times previously and love the place, just this time felt a little awkward as i couldn't eat my food in peace. Ill still be going though don't worry about that!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Lindsey MacdonaldJuly 26th 2012.

Next time, ask for me and let me know that you would like to top your own wine up and will call us over if you need anything. I will then let the staff know and you can eat in peace.
Lindsey, Manageress

Simon TurnerJuly 24th 2012.

Banter? Who wants banter with the staff? You can't have the wine you want or the side order but you can have banter. Sounds awful.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Lindsey MacdonaldJuly 26th 2012.

You dont win awards if you are awful!
Lindsey, Manageress

pollolocoJuly 27th 2012.

you do if you pseter customers to fill in review cards though!

Lindsey MacdonaldSeptember 20th 2012.

We have never pseter (think you may have meant pestered) any of our customers to vote for us. You either do or you don't, the choice is yours. We are currently shortlisted in Lancashire Life Magazines Best North West Restaurant and no voting was involved with that at all - we just got a phone call to tell us!!
Lindsey, Manageress

AnonymousAugust 7th 2012.

A fair review i think. Its great to have such a high quality restaurant in a small town like Walkden.
I've visited on several occasions and the food has been spot on everytime! I recently used their recommended taxi company too for my journey home, top class service from the table right to my front door! (It was Met Cars 0161 703 9999)

1 Response: Reply To This...
Lindsey MacdonaldSeptember 20th 2012.

Thank you anon for your lovely feedback.
Lindsey, manageress

JohnthebriefAugust 13th 2012.

I loved this place when Jenn and I went for a review visit a couple of years ago. I thought it was great then and it sounds as though they have upped their game some more. I will definitely have to visit again sometime soon.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Lindsey MacdonaldSeptember 20th 2012.

Thanks for your comments. I like to think we are all really trying hard to please our customers in providing consistent service and menus. We have recently recruited Gary Rhodes ex Head Chef and he is producing some superb food. Hope to see you soon John.

AnonymousJuly 8th 2014.

Super Salford

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