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Mud Crab At Grinch Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield can't find the words

Written by . Published on February 20th 2014.

Mud Crab At Grinch Reviewed

THESE are the hardest reviews to write. 

You see Mud Crab at Grinch's food was fine but that was about it. It was ok, decent, did a job, ticked a box, filled a gap, served a purpose. 

On the bill they charged me 0.01p for the soup. Bargain. It was a lovely way to spend a penny.

In our list of expressions and words meaning average, L'Oreal Blackett suggested 'meh' so we made her make coffee for uttering one of a food writer's lowest of the low expressions.

Mudcrab at Grinch

Mud Crab at Grinch

But before I write about the workmanlike grub let me praise the waiter. He was Australian and called one of those generic Australian names, possibly Shane - though maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part, he may have been called Chris.

Whatever his name the lad needs to be put on a pedestal in the National Museum of Waiting in Clacton-on-Sea for services rendered to service rendering. He was amiable, knowledgeable and took his lead from the customer. If the latter wanted to be left alone Shane was a beacon of efficiency, if the customer was chatty he chatted and was sincere in his joviality. He was the very paradigm of waiting.

The food now.

It had a couple of highspots, the mushroom and thyme soup was full of flavour and seasoned just so but was scarred with a slick that looked like something from BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Soup slickSoup slick 

The good news is they charged me 1p for the soup. Bargain. I didn't notice this error until looking over the receipt for this review. It was a lovely way to spend a penny.

Penny soupPenny soup

The calamari (£1.95) were presented in a street food style box and were dryer than a cynic's wit, but not funny at all. Big miss these. So much so I made a resolution not to eat calamari again for a full year. Maybe two years. Maybe never again. The sauce did little to perk these up either as they were so dessicated.

Listless calamariListless calamari

A lunch steak for £11.99 with a side of salad was, as the price indicates, a lowly cut of meat - skirt maybe. It hit the hungry spot as I was famished but was utterly unmemorable. I like a nice bit of skirt but only the picture and the bill reminded me I'd had it.

The steaks are lowThe steaks are low

The chicken sandwich (£6) came at a good price and was lifted by the peppers thus gaining character. The Baked Alaska (£5.50) was enjoyable, good meringue, good consistency.

"Fascinating and funny that a Baked Alaska is also known as a Norwegian omelette," I said to L'Oreal when she came back from the kitchen with the coffees.

"Meh," she replied.

Baked Alaska


Baked Alaska

Other food on the menu includes a range of burgers (naturally) including the 'six napkin challenge, double the beef, double the cheese, a lot of bacon' at a whopping £18. There are Middle Eastern sharing platters too at £12.50 and pizzas for around £10. It's a predictable menu.

Mud Crab at Grinch is an old operator as food and drink establishments go. It's been around for twenty years and more. It remains a decent enough bar, I suppose, to drop-in while passing by. There's all the usual cocktails and all the usual wines and lager beers. And if you like girlie mags from the seventies it's got a wall full to attract the gaze. Cheeky.

Naked young ladies for your delectation

Naked young ladies for your delectation

Back in the day it provided a slice of fun indie lightweight action in a very corporate retail centre. Now there's so much indie stuff nearby in the Northern Quarter and even on the fringes of Spinningfields, or the Arndale Market, or with Salvi's or Propertea, that the rebranding of Grinch to Mudcrab at Grinch seems superficial.

I'd like the managers to forget all that pizza and burger stuff and do some more creative specials. Then again the passing shoppers probably like it just as it is, so they may not want to bother.

Yet for people who have been using the city for years it probably retains a sentimental attraction. It does for me.

Gazing round the place reminded me of a celebration meal I had there when I qualified as a Blue Badge Guide - one of Manchester's official tour guides - back in 1996.

Grinch interior

Grinch interior

There were about twenty of us - recently qualified guides and existing ones too - around a basement table. Some of the existing guides were well into their sixties, even older, most were very English and very reserved.

Muriel Savrot though was very French and, as is the way of that nation, was anything but reserved. A guide newbie like me, she would turn out to be a brilliant guide and a woman who while saying "Bridgewater Canal" or "steam powered mill" in that accent could make grown men faint.

Grinch at the time of the meal had a speciality of mussels in buckets. At a quiet moment in the polite table chatter, Muriel prised the shell of a mussel open and gazed inside.

"Oh look," she said in that accent, "doesn't it look like a little vulva?"

You could hear a pin drop.

Then you heard the oldest and most old school guide drop as she slid off her chair in a dead faint. Something like that.

Grinch contains a lot of memories, I just wish the menu and the execution of the food had more invention in their delivery. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+ 


Mudcrab at Grinch, 5-7 Chapel Walks, City Centre, M2 1 HN. 0161 907 3210

Rating: 13/20 (remember venues are rated against the best examples of their type - see yellow box below)

Food: 6/10 (soup 7, steak 6, chicken sandwich 6, calamari 5, Baked Alaska 6.5)
Service: 4/5  
Ambience: 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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franciscusFebruary 20th 2014.

we eat in grinch regularly usually before a Royal Exchange gig and always come out impressed by the friendliness of staff, value - £10 for a bottle of decent red at happy hour and ,yes, the quality of food. Their pizzas our as good as anywhere, great burgers and the best fried chicken in town.

AnonymousFebruary 21st 2014.

Best. Fried Chicken. Ever.

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2014.

Passing shoppers should keep on walking.

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