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Northern Quarter Restaurant And Bar (TNQ) Review

Jonathan Schofield is sweet on sweetbreads

Published on October 4th 2011.


Northern Quarter Restaurant And Bar (TNQ) Review

YOU swan in at lunchtime not even intending to review the place. And the food is so right it becomes imperative to pass the occasion on. 

Anthony Fielden the boss chef here has a very steady hand. His cooking is as certain and sharply designed as the room which holds the restaurant.

In the hot as hell late days of September this is what happened to me and a friend. People were gearing up for a day on the street terraces outside while trade inside The Northern Quarter Restaurant and Bar (TNQ) was already brisk.

Northern Quarter And Beer Mats 005

A peruse of the menu delivered immediate results. For me it was to be a starter of sweetbreads (main picture) with lambs leaf and salsa verde for £6.50 and a main of plaice with brown shrimps and capers for £16.95.  

The only element that seemed awry in all of this was the spelling of sweetbreads. TNQ have them as 'sweatbreads'.

Given we're talking glands, the thymus and pancreas, of calf or lamb, then maybe the name is not too far out.

These jewels had been prepared the usual way, soaked in salt water, poached in milk and then fried. They were just what sweetbreads should be: delicate, strangely rich, forgiving, almost virtuous - alright, alright enter me for Pseuds Column in Private Eye - set off by a rugged base of solid moist vegetables and a crown of vigorous leaves.

The plaice was also magnificent. The flesh was as dainty and yet robustly present as the sweetbread flesh had been. The caper beurre noisette (clarified butter gently browned and bolstered with capers) was a dream complement to the dish. The samphire had me dreaming of rockpools on Atlantic facing beaches. 

Northern Quarter And Beer Mats 008

To digress, I have a thing for capers. I like to get jars of them and eat them in handfuls between meals. Just a thing I do.

In August I had almost the identical dish in Fergus Henderson's Bread and Wine in Spitalfields, in some big southern town the name of which I forget: the TNQ version was better. 

My dining partner had a starter of the chicken liver parfait in black truffle butter with toast and chutney for £6.95 and smoked haddock with potato cake, topped by a poached egg for £14.95. 

The noises across were all appreciative. The egg splitting over the haddock with a fine hollandaise sauce was an object of desire while the parfait showed all the hallmarks of this utterly successful lunchtime meal. In otherwords; finesse and care.

A fine banoffee cheesecake at £5.50 provided a sweetly triumphant final flourish. A bottle of Terrazas Torrontes 2010 had matched the day's sunny character. 

Northern Quarter And Beer Mats 011

This was a fine meal in a fine restaurant. 

Anthony Fielden, the boss chef here, has a very steady hand. His cooking is as certain and sharply-designed as the room which holds the restaurant.

The ingredients are treated with respect, the presentation is restrained but beguiling and the flavour combinations are just right.  

We went with the a la carte menu but there are lunchtime menus of three courses at £13.99 and two courses at £9.95.

I'll be back soon. I'm sweet on those sweatbreads (or maybe sweating with anticipation over the prospect of more sweetbreads). 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. £1000 to the reader who can prove otherwise, and dismissal for the staff member who wrote a review scored out of twenty on a freebie from the restaurant.

The Northern Quarter Restaurant and Bar (TNQ)
108 High Street, 
City, M41HQ, 0161 832 7115

Rating: 15.5/20
Food: 8.5/10
Service: 3.5/5
Atmosphere: 3.5/5

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: Gordo gets carried away.

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

LouOctober 5th 2011.

Bloody love TNQ, never had a single bad dish here.

AnonymousOctober 5th 2011.

I really like TNQ too, it's a shame that the service is, almost without fail, really slow. It's not enough to put me off though...

GeorgeOctober 6th 2011.

One of my favourites.

Ed HughesOctober 6th 2011.

Always top notch food, yet to have a bad meal there...

Dave BroomeOctober 6th 2011.

Meal and service have always been great on each of our visits. By far my favourite restaurant in the City centre.
Keep up the good work guys, will be in next week :-)

dottiedogOctober 7th 2011.

My favourite place to eat. Food always excellent & the set lunchtime menu is great value. TNQ's regular themed nites are the not to be missed too with great food & matched wines.

AnonymousOctober 26th 2011.

Agree with the second comment, food is excellent but the poor service really puts me off. I actually had to stand up and wave at the waiter last time we went to get more drinks. They also leave dirty plates on the tables for a long time. Not acceptable.

Carolyn BowersNovember 5th 2011.

Love TNQ, Anthony does indeed have a steady hand...I can remember being water bombed by him as a kid as he lived next door, and his shot was very accurate! Just sent this to him mum on FB, she must be very proud of him. Shame his skills never rubbed off on me, I'm more of a ding style cook I'm ashamed to admit.

Agree with the comment about service though, have always thought the food deserves better but it is still a fab restaurant.

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