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Isinglass Restaurant

You don’t have to go to the country to taste local produce, just a trip to Urmston. Vanessa has a reet good feed at the Isinglass Restaurant.

Published on October 4th 2006.

Isinglass Restaurant

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time in the merry days of olde, the sun yawned and rubbed his sleepy peepers. And as he smiled in anticipation for the day ahead, his rays streamed life across the yellow fields of hay.

It was market day. The air tasted sweet and moist with cured meats, vegetables were reaped from the earth that morning with labour and love and the pungency of the cheeses punched the throat like a shot of vintage port….

And that’s the picture, when you read between the lines of the Isinglass Restaurant menu. Even before the creaminess of the herb and garlic marinated goats cheese and summer beans (served with crispted bread and rocket) £4.85 warmly slip like silk down the back of your throat, you float to times gone by.

It’s a time when plate portions were as ample as serving wenches’ heaving bosoms, when the kitchen was the hub of the home and farmers markets were a bigger family outing than a trip to Sainsburys.

It’s thanks to restaurants like the Isinglass that sourcing local produce is no longer becoming a thing of the past. It’s important, not just for agriculture but for people like me to know that Charlotte was tapping her trotters happily to the tune of the blue birds in open fields before she sprouted wings and flew up to piggy heaven. And you really can taste the difference.

Take, for example, the Blue Pig Rare Breed Pork Sausages with Creamy Mash, Onion and Sage Stock Gravy £9.95. Bangers and mash - a seemingly simple meal mastered by the most socially inept is whipped into a lip-smackingly sophisticated dish. The richness and depth of the rare breed sausages are teased with the fruity sweetness of the caramelised onions. De-lish. And although the portion is buxom, it’s rude not to sample a side dish of cabbage and spinach which frolic in the bowl with a tangy squeeze of lemon.

Considering the freshness of the food, service is remarkably punctual. When I did touch base with my husband early on in the meal when he was engrossed in his starter of Dill and Vodka cured Wild Salmon with Buckwheat Pancakes and Caper Dressing £5.65, which danced lightfootedly as Darcy Bussell to the melody of flavour, the restaurant was three-quarters full. It was Thursday and only 8.00pm.

Even the owner of the Indian restaurant next door kept taking a not so sneaky peep through the window to see how many table covers had been clocked up. It’s a dog eat dog world in gastronomic circles.

The restaurant itself is a country kitchen with rustic tables and chairs injected with a smidgen of opulence, courtesy of the antique chandeliers and chiffon drapes. But a little word of warning – As atmospheric as Moulin Rouge red light bulbs can be, they serve little purpose in a toilet. A girl makes a polite exit to powder her nose and returns looking like Crusty the Clown.

Even if your eyes are far too big for your belly, which mine invariably are, it’s hard to argue with the prospect of a Treacle Tart with Clotted Cream and Chopped Pecans £4.45 I can taste it now melting on my tongue, slowly trickling down the back of my throat and nestling cosily in my tummy. And to be honest, I’m feeling rather peckish.

My husband opted for the English Artisan Producers Cheese on a Slate - very old English authenticity served with Miller Damsel Biscuits and poached pear and fruit chutney. Forget France or Switzerland, British cheeses are the world’s best kept secret – literally because we don’t export to the extent of other countries. And the Artisan Producers Cheese on a Slate is a real tribute to some of the most highly regarded cheese makers in the land including a creamy Lancashire, a bloomy Berkshire ewe’s milk, a Cornish lemony cheese wrapped in nettles and a tangy blue.

The Isinglass do recommend a glass of Taylor’s late bottled vintage port £2.60 or Cohleita 1966 for £6.50 to compliment the cheese slate but we were still supping our way through the fiery tempered Sancerre Terres Blanche Daulny, £20. It’s the sort of wine which could perk up any dish or conversation for that matter. Potential first daters take note.

Urmston may feel like the back of beyond and it doesn’t sound overly inviting either – bit like Bognor Regis or Scunthorpe but I can tell you that with its beautifully crafted period properties and tree lined streets, it’s fast becoming the retreat for Didsbury exiles.

If you are a true urbanite and feel the weekly excursion to a farm shop is all a bit too twin-set and pearls, then get stuck into the country at the Isinglass Restaurant. Now where are my hunter wellies?


Vanessa Lees
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Isinglass Restaurant
46 Flixton Road
M41 5AB
0161 749 8400

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