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Nutters, Rochdale, Reviewed

Neil Sowerby is missing the two main men

Written by . Published on August 11th 2014.


Nutters, Rochdale, Reviewed
 

NUTTERS restaurant recently celebrated its twenty-first birthday with a party, a democratic spectacular open to his loyal punters.

Maybe the absence of both main men was responsible. The meticulous front of house presence of Rod was an immediate miss; only later did I gather Andrew wasn’t cooking that night.

Chef Andrew (interviewed here) loves a party – his own and other folk’s. His St George’s Day bashes at the gorgeously fitted out eighteenth century manor house above Norden are a hoot, if you’re up for flag-waving and singing along to Land of Hope and Glory. 

This is the man who once turned up at an awards dinner with 'Nutter' shaved into the back of his head and fronted a Channel 5 series called Utter Nutter. Now past 40, he’s still the man for a celebrity chef cook-off or even a naked photo opportunity.

Nutters

NuttersNutters

So he’s not shy. He is also an extremely talented cook with a firm grounding in classic techniques. He was a boy at The Savoy. Whether he has ever been “one of the most exciting and innovative chefs of his generation”, as his website proclaims, is pushing it a bit far. I have always treasured the consistency of his output from those early days in an old moorland pub further on towards Edenfield. And for all the show-off stuff and party animal antics, you’ll find him at his own stove more regularly than most big names.

He and his dad Rod, have built the business up methodically, the investment paying off in today’s top-end chrome fittings and fine crockery feel to the place. It has not always been so smooth. In previous manifestations pre-Nutter, it was a night club and later a family fun pub (I can recall the 'ball pool' sign remaining up for a while).

Today, despite the celebrity trappings and merchandise stall by the bar, it retains a curious ecclesiastical aura with all the plaster ceilings, dark wood and arched Gothic windows. Old comfort zone stuff; the menu reads like an old acquaintance, too.

Nutters wine rangeNutters wine range

All of which pains me to report a slightly diminished dinner experience this time around. Maybe the absence of both main men was responsible. The meticulous front of house presence of Rod was an immediate miss; only later did I gather Andrew wasn’t cooking that night. It shouldn’t matter at this level (Nutters is on the shortlist for the Manchester Food and Drink Festival awards 'Restaurant of the Year'), but on a busy night there was an underlying sense of strain. 

It took the best part of 45 minutes to get a member of staff to pour us some jug water. We had mentioned to passing waiters 'it would be nice' a couple of times, just as we had requested our Sancerre Rouge might benefit from a stretch in an ice bucket. Eventually we located one in a corner and looked after the chilling ourselves. The slightly earthy Loire pinot noir, by the way, was a good value, silky, cherryish treat for £29.95 from an excellent list. Service continued to feel distracted; bread, when it arrived, was dull.  

The menu is full of Nutter signature touches – among the starters crispy black pudding wontons, crispy lobster fritters and pork belly China Town style with ginger and spring onions.  

Lobster salad starterLobster salad starter

I went for lobster, but in composed salad form (£9.50) from the specials. Shallot and basil vinaigrette and diced tomato salsa enhanced the delicate sweetness of the crustacean curls, but underneath lay an over-saccharine and creamy coleslaw. 

My wife’s brill fillet starter (£8.20) was a curious affair. There was an oddly glutinous feel to the lobster bisque, ballasted by courgette and tomato 'confit', and the fillet was slightly overcooked under its thick herb pesto crust.

I asked for my main, a fillet of Limousin beef (£23.50), to be served rare. It came out medium under another herby crust, which this fine tranche of well-hung flesh from the Eden Valley really didn’t need. I sought in vain for a significant trace of the wild mushroom advertised in the potato gratin. 

Limousin beefLimousin beef

The Nutters menu is not given to the verbal flounces of 'pork cooked three ways'. Hence  the 'Trio of Dingley Dell Pork: Confit pork belly served with a slow-braised pig cheek, ham hock and chive mash potato and a port wine reduction' (£18.80). Fine combo, maybe the belly was a mite flabby. Both mains were smoothly accomplished but hardly challenging, which summed up the whole meal.

The stand-out element was undoubtedly my pud – a whimberry tart with mango sorbet (£6.50). A thin crisp pate sucre teeming with my favourite berry and topped with a vivid mango sorbet, it was sensational stuff. At the same price, my wife’s prettily presented chocolate delice lacked a similar intensity. 

Follow Neil on Twitter @AntonEgoManc

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. 

Nutters, Edenfield Road, Rochdale, OL12 7TT. 01706 650167.

Rating: 14/20

Food: 7/10 (Lobster salad 7, brill 6, beef 7, pork 7, whimberry tart 9, chocolate delice 6)

Service: 2.5/5 

Ambience: 4.5/5

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.

Brill fillet starterBrill fillet starter

Pork trioPork trio

Chocolate deliceChocolate delice

NuttersNutters

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

Hero
GordoAugust 11th 2014.

I had the (UK) meal of the year here, lunch one Sunday. Blew our skirts off.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Chris Keller-JacksonAugust 12th 2014.

Gordo, you still have to go to Freemasons in Wiswell (Clitheroe), you'll need a petticoat for your skirt there, if you go for Sunday Lunch or a la carte

PaulAugust 11th 2014.

Best value Sunday lunch in Greater Manchester

AnonymousAugust 11th 2014.

I've only been once and the service was ropey enough to put me off going back.

AnonymousAugust 11th 2014.

I've tried it and wasn't impressed by either the food or the service - and that was on a night when Dad was front of house. I'll stick with my favourites (not telling you where - I want to get a table!)

AnonymousAugust 11th 2014.

Max Ehrmann said to "Avoid loud and aggressive people, they are vexations to the spirit" the same can be said for anyone or anything wrapped in Union Jack blazer or a pesto crust. Crass, unsubtle, and dated.

Cj ThompsonAugust 12th 2014.

I've had varied experiences over the years at Nutters some good, some bad. The last one being very bad, good old Dad was on the front of the house and I can assure you it added nothing to the experience other than stress and bad feelings. Needless to say, I have never returned since. Quite a few interesting reviews on other well known sites that specifically mention Dad.

Maggie MilnerAugust 12th 2014.

I agree with all Anonymous posts. Went last year for my birthday and was pretty much underwhelmed by all of it, food, service (wasn't even busy!) and wine. For the price we paid we could have gone to Aumbry where the cooking and service is on another level entirely.

AnonymousAugust 12th 2014.

Surely wimberry or whinberry - make your mind!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 12th 2014.

Whimberry is a valid name. They are called many names, bilberry, wortlebery, blaeberry, and I am sure many more. It all depends on where you are in the country, or where you come from.

AnonymousAugust 12th 2014.

Mark - Please go visit the Cholmondley Arms, Alsager. We had fantastic Sunday lunch for £13.95 - best rare beef, large Yorkshire, good roasties, veg and lovely dark jus - a real bargain. It is the sister/brother? restaurant of the Church Inn, Mobberley, also very good. MC

RobbsyAugust 12th 2014.

4.5 for ambience? must have changed since I was there - food was ok but seemed dated and that whole Union Jack nonsense gets right on my nips, I confess. No need to return, we have much better around now

AnonymousAugust 13th 2014.

Im Andrew Nutter - i'm completely nuts, waaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Simon TurnerAugust 13th 2014.

He's soooo wacky. Puts me off going to his restaurant. In case he's there.

Steve5839August 13th 2014.

Only eaten here once, and was not blew away or even remotely excited. Its a pedestrian upmarket Harvester, filled full of people looking for an oasis in a desert of local mediocrity and it fails to consistently deliver.

Jamie TrickettAugust 15th 2014.

awful place, tries to be something which it isn't also both Andrew and his father who works there are obnoxious and rude. I won't be going back again and would never suggest it to my friends

1 Response: Reply To This...
Cj ThompsonAugust 21st 2014.

How interesting there does seem to be as theme with regards to the managements disposition.

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