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Jack Spratt Reviewed

Ruth Allan likes the atmosphere but feels the nosh needs more consistency

Published on December 12th 2012.

Jack Spratt Reviewed

JACK Spratt isn’t quite sure who he is. His mis-matched dress sense (heavy wooden tables, vintage bobs and fairy lights) and British pub-meets-traveller palate (steak, roasts, raita, Louisiana mayo) doesn’t give a cohesive impression. He’s the kind of guy that’s still got fluffy hair and a winning smile, but isn’t quite as confident as the big boys nearby. 

Jack might need more time to find his feet, to get that food consistency right, but the vibes are in place at this quirky one off. It provided, despite some cooking errors, a very pleasurable night out.  

Located in the commercial heart of  Manchester, just off Albert Square, Jack's been going for a couple of years now, and what he's got going for him are excellent vibes.

Warm, friendly and welcoming with live music and a great team of staff, he’s also bang into his meat.


One of the specials is an all-you-can-eat-style mega burger while the menu proper includes trendy ‘Flat Iron’ steak with skinny fries (£15), a ground beef burger on glazed brioche (£15) and pork tenderloin with a Magners cider-infused cream sauce (£16). 

A selling point on the menu is that everything is ‘home cooked’. That’s the minimum I expect from my dining out experience, to be honest, but here it’s a byword for the love and ambition that’s gone into the dishes - even if they don’t always 100 per cent work. 

Outside on John Dalton StreetOutside on John Dalton Street

Mussels (£7) are on the money. A light, lemon and cream sauce is flavoured with stock and lively white wine making for shellfish and dipped bread (we had to ask for extra as you just get a tiny, airplane-style roll) which canoodle on the tongue. A starter of poached Williams pear with gorgonzola, rockets leaves and balsamic vinaigrette glaze (£5) is just as good. Sweet-tart flavours are elevated by slightly less Gorgonzola than I would’ve liked. And if the balsamic glaze is a throwback to when Coldplay’s Yellow was in the charts. 

Everybody loves a nice pearEverybody loves a nice pear

Food goes a little off-piste from here. Veggie Laura’s butternut squash sage and chestnut roast (£14.50) comes with wan, underdone parsnips, crisp carrots, mangetout and ‘Dauphinoise’ - cut potatoes (slightly thicker than crisps, but the same shape). Herb butter seeps across the plate as the claggy, garlic-caked roast slowly flattens a bed of watercress over the course of the meal.

The Persian lamb tagine (£15) owes more to Morocco and India than the Middle East. Bright gherkins and pickled cauliflower sit at odds with raita, herbed rice and flatbread. The chicken tikka I had in Sainsbury’s café last night was more cohesive. A roast fig and orange tarte (£5) is more trowel than pastry, more treacle tart than anything grown on a tree but it fills a sweet hole. A side of Christmas coleslaw (£3) is a bit of a revelation - a combination of what tastes like crumbling roast chestnuts, fine sliced cabbage, silky cladding. Harmony is briefly restored.

Tasty coleslawTasty coleslaw

Like the wine list which serves quality by-the-glass favourites (we tried the house white Spanish Macabeo, £3.80 and a French Pinot Noir, £6), the restaurant is strong on basics, less so when they get creative. And even though our meal was far from perfect, I’m left with a warm and fuzzy feeling about the place.

The acoustic songs performed by a sad James Blunt look-a-like are pitched just right and people laugh and share stories with big, festive smiles.

Orange and fig tartOrange and fig tart

Jack might need more time to find his feet, to get that food consistency right, but the vibes are in place at this quirky one off. It provided, despite some cooking errors, a very pleasurable night out.  

You can follow Ruth Allan on Twitter here @RuthAllan.


11 St James’s Square, John Dalton Street, M2 6WH. Tel: . Click here.

Rating 12.5/20

Food 6.5 /10 (mussels 9, salad 8, roast 4, lamb 6, dessert 5)
Atmosphere 3/5
Service 3/5

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

paulsouthernDecember 12th 2012.

Been here twice now for lunch and food splendid on both occasions and at a price that makes it an inexpensive visit too. Re the review, The Sad James Blunt-a-like must have been good to get a mention twice ;-) wee edit maybe!

Stephen LakeDecember 13th 2012.

Thanks to ManCon for taking the time to explain ‘Dauphinoise’ ....to us. Ah bless.

AnonymousDecember 13th 2012.

you dont actualy tell us what the lamb bit of the tangine is like? interesting as the acompanyments are I'd rather hear about the meat.

Marcus EmadiDecember 13th 2012.

Hey Ruth,

Marcus from Jack Spratt here ( one of the two half Iranian owners)

The Persian lamb tagine (know as ghemeih badamjun) we make is typical of you would find in any Iranian's house on a Sunday afternoon and something that I have been fed since I was 2 years old.

To be fair, my dad is a bit of a kidder and has wound me up in the past.....the 2 hours in the Muslim foodstore looking for pickled pigs foot was a low-point for me, but surely he couldn't of been lying about where he's from!?!?!

It's ok, I've just got off the phone to him and checked, he is DEFINITELY PERSIAN and not Indian...phew, I thought I'd been living a lie my whole life. I was quite excited at the idea of celebrating the festival of light (dewali) with buckets of multi-coloured paint!!

Every component of every dish is there for the purpose of making the dish unique and satisfying our customers. The bitterness of the pickles works with the tartness of the riata (or musta khiar which literally means "yoghurt of cucumber" in Farsi) and the warmness and wholeness of the stew is accompanied by the rice and Persian naan bread. If that's not cohesive, what is?

Each to own of course, but maybe next time may I suggest that when you review a dish which involves a cuisine with which you are unfamiliar, it may be prudent to take the time to become familiar with it before you make unfair comparisons to other cuisines from completely different countries. At least that removes the risk of sounding like a food blogger when you should be trying to write with credibility and come across as being what you are, which is a professional food critic.

As for the interior design of our little restaurant; we did not want to create just another "big boy" city centre restaurant with smooth polished surfaces and dulled down colours, afraid to offend and trying to appeal to everybody without stimulating anyone. If you want that then you are spoilt for choice on this side of town; if you want a restaurant full of gumption, personality and self assurance then come to Jack Spratt.

x x

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 13th 2012.

Hear, hear, I've never had a problem with Jack Spratt's food - and I've dined at some jolly prestigious places, don't you know (before you make nasty remakes about my palate Ruth)

Anna SadokDecember 13th 2012.

Dear Marcus
My boyfriend and I are planning on visiting your restaurant in the not too distant future. If your food is half as good as your rant, then we will be in for a treat.

nices wolkchenMay 7th 2013.

hahahah ManCon got TOLD!

Blue PeterDecember 13th 2012.

Apology due perhaps Miss Allan?

AnonymousDecember 13th 2012.

You got served !! Ha ha

Lisa GilmoreDecember 13th 2012.

A professional food critic, 'home cooked' is the least she expects from a dining out experience... I'm completely at a loss trying to understand the chicken tikka at sainsburys cafe thing.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 13th 2012.

ha, ha, ha

Sarah JonesDecember 13th 2012.

Always great service and tasty food in there - packed every lunch time

paulsouthernDecember 13th 2012.

Nice one Marcus, will be back to sample the evening menu soon I hope.

AnonymousDecember 13th 2012.

Here here Marcus!! On every visit to jack spratts the excellent food has only been outshone by the friendliness of the staff. Sloppy, half-witted review.

belaDecember 13th 2012.

My family are all big fans, nice to have a mix of the familia and somthing new on a menu

Ruth AllanDecember 13th 2012.

@Marcus - thanks for the welcome correction regarding the authenticity of your lamb dish.... I'd be interested to know if there is anywhere you recommend for home-style Persian food in Mcr.... (Ruth)

1 Response: Reply To This...
rinkydinkMarch 16th 2014.

Um... Jack Spratt?

AnonymousDecember 13th 2012.

Seems Jack Spratt isn't the only confused person! A food critic who enjoys Sainsbury's Chicken Tikka, wrongly outwits 2 Iranian's on Persian cuisine and needlessly quotes the term dauphinoise despite being able to perfectly describe it?

StephanieDecember 13th 2012.

I've been here about 5 times in total, mostly throughout the day and it's always been amazing food.

Anna SadokDecember 13th 2012.

Incidentially Ruth Allan wasn't overly impressed with a favourite place of mine, namely Evuna, which I have found to be consistently good food and it's always packed to the rafters. Hope this is not a trend.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Bilbo BagginsDecember 14th 2012.

Anna, whatever the truth of this burst of energy on Ruth's piece, the Evuna review was a fair representation. Evuna's food is a poor representation of Spanish food of any region. It is lazy and a bloody shame. 5% more effort would turn an ok experience into a very good one.

pollolocoDecember 14th 2012.

gotta agree with Bilbo there I'm afraid.

AnonymousDecember 14th 2012.

Bit embarrassing when a comment outshines a sloppy review. Thanks for the explanation of dauphinoise, albeit a poor one.
Will be planning a trip to Jack Spratt soon, if food is as good as the rant I shall be in for a treat.

Anna SilverDecember 14th 2012.

I never comment on these sorts of things but feel compelled to after reading this review. Jack spratts is an amazing little place, a gem in the heart of the city that serves great homemade food, at really reasonable prices. The service is always fantastic and I’d highly recommend a visit.

AnonymousDecember 14th 2012.

I visited for the first time earlier in the week. Atmosphere was really lovely, staff great but unfortunately the food wasn't. I just ordered a main and had to send it back as it was cold - it was a prawn penne and came with a measly 3 cold prawns.

AnonymousDecember 15th 2012.

Have just been recommended to Jack Spratts so was interested to read the review. Almost put off by it, however the consequent rants mean I can't wait to give it a go! The review may have inadvertently done them a very good turn.

Sharon HillDecember 15th 2012.

Enjoyed a lovely meal in Jack Spratt 2 weeks ago- no complaints! Nice atmoshere, christmas decorations...candles..red wine and good company.Looking forward to my 3rd visit

AnonymousDecember 16th 2012.

Table for two outside the shitters No thanks NUFF Said.

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoDecember 16th 2012.


Laura KettleDecember 18th 2012.

I love this place, the decor is fabulous, it feels homely and quaint without trying to hard. Food has always been fab to at a totally reasonable price! x

Karen PrendergastDecember 17th 2013.

....and in such style too. Oh Marcus, dear Marcus.  How will your restaurant grow? You confirm my booking last night via email. This afternoon, just 4 hours before we dine an impolite telephone call from you, the owner, announcing your decision to 'close your kitchen in the afternoon as you have a busy evening on so you are giving your staff a break' so you are unable to seat us.  'Is this ok?' you ask. Not really, myself and my friends are looking forward to a pre-theatre dinner, I booked last night and everything was fine.  Why was I able to make a booking when you had no intention of keeping it? Ah, you made this wonderfully, arrogant decision just now! Fantastic managerial skills Marcus.  So, you are happy to lose the custom of 4 diners?  Yes, replies Mr Customer Services 2013.  ''Cos you're not coming now, so it's by the by'.  And with that, the jumped-up fool hung up on his customer. Any bookings/comments/advice just call Marcus.....0161 833 1016. Manchester has many a good place to eat and relax.  Jack Spratt just left that list.

Nick WestMarch 5th 2014.

Love this place, to which we decided to go after seeing the queues outside the nearby Reds True BBQ. Best burger I've ever had. Utterly wonderful. Girl still talking about her pulled pork sandwich. Service personal and spot on. We'll be back. I just know I won't experience anything even nearly as good in the new and hyped place.

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