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The Angel review

Simon Binns and Jonathan Schofield are impressed by a pub that keeps it simple

Written by . Published on April 21st 2011.


The Angel review

Chapter One – the Binns Experience

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about pubs that over-stretch themselves with their food recently.

Some good pubs seem unable to help themselves, either through misplaced ambition or lack of focus, from churning out menus as long as your arm. It’s unnecessary at best, and downright annoying at worst.

So kudos then, to The Angel, a pub that sits temptingly on the fringe of the city centre. The first thing that merits mention is the dining room – no longer a confused mash of carpet and woodchip, but a refined mix of dark wood, open log fire and smartly arranged tables and chairs. A genuinely pleasant space.

The menu reads well too – a victory for common sense: five starters, eight mains, four desserts and a cheese board.

Upmarket and honest pub food is the order of the day here, so I started with a smooth but rustic-looking terrine of wild rabbit, bacon and vegetables with toast (£6) – mountains of it. The terrine held together well and had a pleasing flavour, an ideal companion to a pint of nutty real ale.

My companion opted for a French onion soup (£4.50), always a good test, which had a fantastic –looking parmesan and stilton crouton sat on top. The soup itself was just the right side of salty, full of oniony goodness and good value too.

A table of well-spoken arty types were enjoying a glass of champagne on the table behind us – is this really the same Angel I last left 18 months ago after a decent but overpriced feed in a dining room that more resembled by Uncle John’s garage than a gastropub contender?

Time for main, and my 8oz sirloin steak with a peppercorn sauce (£12.95). The flavour was good but the steak was perhaps a bit tough. The peppercorn sauce needed more punch too, but I’m probably bias because my missus makes the best I’ve ever tasted, bar none. The jacket potato had the insides scooped out, mashed up with salt and pepper and put back in again. I wasn’t hugely keen on this if I’m honest.

Across the table, the pan-fried chicken breast with a shallot cream and tarragon and white wine sauce (£10.50) was a delicate, moist and well-delivered dish, countering the minor problems of the steak.

Overall, The Angel is very, very good and knocks spots of some of its pub competition in the food stakes. I'll be back.

Chapter Two – the Schofield encounter

Right I’m taking over now. Binns allegedly took some pictures but then couldn’t remember on which camera they were stored, so I went along.

This was anything but a chore. We had the French onion soup as well and it was a cracker.

I also had the roast partridge (£12.95) with puy lentils, pancetta, button onions and broccoli. It was one of the best main courses I’ve had in Manchester over the last twelve months.

Even the presentation was a delight, the soup and the partridge arriving on rustic plates of earthy colours. These were perfect in mood and tone for the skilled, robust and solid cooking on offer.

The lentils and pancetta were simply excellent, beautifully combining with the tartness of the onions. The fowl was well-timed, not over, nor under-cooked. The broccoli was al dente. I heartily recommend this dish.

The Angel Jammy Dodger (£4.50), a creamy, jam-filled, home-made biscuit delight, was inspired. This underlined the level of innovation and creation at the Angel.

People should really go along to the pub and sample the food. And the large selection of local ales for that matter. And the decent wines.

The Angel succeeds where so many pubs have fallen down of late: by keeping the menu short and concentrating on the dishes it offers.

There is one problem that needs addressing. To broaden the appeal and bring in a variety of customers the interior has to be tidied up. As Binns mentions above it has a certain bric-a-brac charm but in its paintwork, in the gaps between window frames and wall, in general underlying upkeep it’s very very faded.

It is the interior of an old school real ale pub, where men swoon over hoppy flavours and don’t really give a toss about the interior. The food here complements those ales but takes it far beyond that.

If this is sexist then so be it, but the Angel will not attract the female gourmands as it should at present, because it’s simply too unkempt, despite the new French windows. They won't like the toilets for instance. This means the chef’s wonderful food will not get the attention it merits.

All of these problems are summed up in vast concrete beer garden, which is an utter mess. It’s surrounded by grotesque prisoner of war camp barbed wire and even features a Mercedes Benz covered in collapsed beer crates.

Is that an artwork? Is it a screen grab from Fast and Furious 5? It’s certainly funny.

If the food and the beer provide such attention to detail, then the lovely team at the Angel, should make sure the interior and the beer garden match that level of commitment.


Rating: 16/20
Breakdown: 8/10 food
4/5 service
4/5 ambience
Address: The Angel
6 Angel Street
Manchester
M4 4B

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

Vin DieselApril 21st 2011.

That picture of the car is fabulous

BinnsApril 21st 2011.

I did take some pictures. Someone deleted them.

I'm not naming names. But it was Schofield.

ArnyApril 21st 2011.

does this place still close Sundays?

KelpApril 21st 2011.

This place has a quite fantastically huge range of ale on tap, that's surely worth a mention?!? Last time I was in there with some friends we were also treated to an impromptu performance from Jo Dudderidge of the Travelling Band.

EugApril 21st 2011.

That meat dish looks like something off Indiana Jones .... monkeys hand, cooked in sheeps eyeballs, anyone?

Eddy Inner Ring RoadApril 21st 2011.

Isnt this one of the pubs destined for demolition in the Co-op's scorched earth regeneration of this area?

Hannah SkeltonApril 22nd 2011.

as much as i agree that they should nicen up the bear garden, i guess they may not see the point when the co-op are going to ruin the area by building a massive, busy road outside it.

Eddy BarnabyApril 22nd 2011.

A bear garden? That might be better suited to Canal Street.

AncoatsApril 23rd 2011.

If You have not been - make the effort - well worth it!

AncoatsApril 23rd 2011.

This is our ‘local´. Actually we have a couple of closer Pubs but it is worth the walk through New Cross. A hidden gem that was for too long over shadowed by the whole Robert Owen Brown thing back in 2008/ 09. I remember rants on this site saying it was a £40 rent per month dump and wouldn´t survive his leaving etc. People where even posting that it was closed!

On some occasions we would be the only people there (great if you wanted a guaranteed fire side seat – but the owners seemed nervous!). Fantastic to see the place has persevered and getting great reviews.

It has stiff competition from the Marble Arch up the road but more than holds its own with a cosier atmosphere. That is no small feat as the Marble is one of just 4 or 5 historically listed pub interiors in Manchester.

AncoatsApril 23rd 2011.

The best thing is that unlike so many other city pubs that are too commercially cold, too loud and drunk, wide screen spot dominated, so trendy as to be intimidating or all of the above, this place succeeds in being a friendly pub with that community local feel in the city centre where the staff and owners recognise you and take the time.

With the ‘revival´ in real ale sales and what seems to be the success of places like Port Street Beer house proving that it is not just old Gimmers that like proper beer, hopefully there will be more Angels.

This could be the part of the missing ingredient that all the regeneration money has failed to buy so far is some of the newly brushed up areas... that sense of a proper community – not just a empty during the day, apartment dormitory.

So Angel Team if you feel upto it – what about the Cheshire Cheese in Ancoats, or the Edinburgh Castle or The Smiths Arms for that matter. They are all sitting empty at the moment – it would save me the walk!

an angelApril 26th 2011.

the pub is safe from the co-op development, the beer garden will be spruced up soon. i think. adds to the eclectic charm in a way...

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