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Ten Things To Eat Before You Die - Blue Pig

Alaka Prodhan discusses pig’s nipples, smoky bacon cocktails and other oddities

Written by . Published on February 18th 2013.


Ten Things To Eat Before You Die - Blue Pig

DAN BARBER loves a bit of pig.

Snout, tail, head, cheeks, even nipples – you name it, he loves it.

The special menu features oysters, spicy tempura frogs’ legs, wild terrine of squirrel, pigeon, rabbit and pheasant, seared crocodile and loin of ostrich.

This is wholly appropriate. Barber oversees the The Blue Pig menu in his role as Executive Head Chef of The Odd Group.

The Blue Pig is a Northern Quarter venue that's been offering a welcoming, relaxed, Parisian-style bistro experience since opening in August last year.

Blue PigBlue Pig

Our review (click here) was on the whole, favourable, with the Editor christening it 'a real charmer' of a bar, but feeling that the food was only 'interesting enough if you're passing and you want an easy-going place in which to relax and chat' but not something which 'stands out from most of mid-range Manchester dining.'

One criticism was that the central 333 menu idea (three starters, three mains, three puddings) was too limited.

Six months later, it seems that the varied crowd of punters – couples, friends, business people and families – who come through the door are finding enough to keep them coming back; whether that’s with the treat of a hot, sugar-sprinkled churro dipped in chocolate, a bevvy plucked from the small yet well-crafted cocktail list, or the locally and internationally sourced deli produce.

Sharing boardSharing board - Godminster cheddar, Blue Monday blue cheese, duck and liver paté, roasted onion hummus, beetroot vodka cured salmon, salchichon

The weekly-changing, seasonal 333 menu, too, still offers enough of interest to raise an eyebrow of surprise or delight. There was nothing non-descript or measly, for instance, about the beef and oyster pie, which arrived with a beautifully reflective, glazed, cracked pastry topping so expansive it boldly ballooned out over the side of its dish, begging to be demolished.

Beef and oyster pieBeef and oyster pie: Pies shouldn’t be this sexy.

“We add a bit of crème fraiche to the pastry mix, which gives it a little extra creaminess and a little extra shine,” Dan informed me as I tried to navigate my way into this devilishly good-looking behemoth with my fork.

Equally louche was the starter of crab and duck egg with sea greens – the fried duck egg at the centre so plump and inviting; the crab, marinated simply in olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, waiting to be coated and caressed by the rich yellow yolk.

Crab and duck eggCrab and duck egg with sea greens – egg-citing

But Dan is keen to extend his ambition to provide interesting and innovative food combos beyond the 333 menu. The Blue Pig now hosts a series of special food event one-offs to a set theme.

The next of these nights is intriguingly titled '10 Things To Eat Before You Die' – a ten-course extravaganza, paired with wine, which Dan hopes will surprise and delight his guests.

He talks me through the menu, which opens with oysters and pinky vodka and features dishes such as spicy tempura frogs’ legs, wild terrine of squirrel, pigeon, rabbit and pheasant, seared crocodile and loin of ostrich. These are interspersed with little amuse bouches like nettle and squid ink shot and gin and wasabi sorbet.

The final course comes in cocktail form but with a porcine twist: The Blue Pig Bacon Old Fashioned.

“I’m getting a lot of pig fat off all the belly pork from the other bars, melting it down to a liquid, pouring three bottles of Woodford’s into it and setting it. Then we’re going to heat it back up again after two or three days and pass it through muslin so you’re just left with the whiskey – no fat content, but it has the taste of smoky bacon.”

The Blue Pig Old Fashioned %26#8211%3B sans baconThe Blue Pig Old Fashioned - sans bacon

Dan’s not going to stop there, though.

He has ideas for other 'One Night Stands', as he calls them, including an 'Appreciate the Pig Night' (he cites London-based, snout-to-tail man Fergus Henderson as a personal influence and inspiration), which will feature a sweet version of a black pudding for dessert, and a Spanish night, where the main attraction will be milk-fed lambs from Spain, served in quarters between two or three people.

“Personally, I think the food we serve here stands up to anything in Manchester at the moment,” Dan says, “especially the price we’re doing it at. It’s not pretentious – it’s easy, it’s accessible, it’s nice. And the beauty is that, with the changing menu, we can do whatever we fancy and try new things.”

For more information on The Blue Pig’s menus, including '10 Things To Eat Before You Die' and 'The Blue Pig Does Spain', visit the website.

The Blue Pig, 69 High Street, Northern Quarter, City

Follow Alaka on Twitter @EchoingBronze

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

John BrocklehurstFebruary 19th 2013.

The food is dreadful.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Dan McGlynnFebruary 19th 2013.

Couldn't agree more

Poppy HumphreyFebruary 19th 2013.

I won't be spending my money in the Blue Pig on account of the fact the scouse girl who works there has the worst attitude of anyone i've come into contact with, in the Greater Manchester area

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 19th 2013.

You cant have lived here very long.

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2013.

I've tried about 5 times to eat at this place and it has always either been too busy or closed. The last time I tried to go (in January) I tried to book ahead for 7.15. They asked me to change my booking to 5.45 as their Christmas party was that night and they were closing early, which I agreed to do. When I turned up, however, they were already closed. How is it so difficult to get a seat in a standard restaurant?? Boycotting this one I'm afraid ...

AnonymousFebruary 19th 2013.

angry, angry people

1 Response: Reply To This...
paulsouthernFebruary 19th 2013.

The staff or the ranters?

Charlie ButterworthFebruary 19th 2013.

I'm with Anonymous here. I don't understand why there has to be so much anger on message boards and rants. It's a lovely day. Maybe those with the one bad experience should go back and try again? I like Blue Pig. Nice vibe, decent food.

Poppy HumphreyFebruary 19th 2013.

I had a wonderful experience at Neighbourhood, no anger issues, no rants, just honest with my dislike for poor customer service

avoFebruary 19th 2013.

Did we ever get to the bottom of the mystery as to whether a portion of butter was actually charged a 75p?

Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 19th 2013.

I'll ask right now Avo.

Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 19th 2013.

There is no charge for butter: just had that from the porcine mouth.

1 Response: Reply To This...
avoFebruary 19th 2013.

I'll be round for a couple of pounds tonight.

IanMarch 8th 2013.

Never read a good review about it. Place sounds like an alcopop

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