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The Lawn Club Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield admires the verve and simplicity of David Gale's menu

Written by . Published on May 19th 2014.

The Lawn Club Reviewed

IT'S beginning to sound like sloth, the fourth of the seven deadly sins. 

Last week I reviewed Neighbourhood which I can glimpse two hundred metres away from my office. This week I'm writing about the Lawn Club which is a suicide leap from my window. 

Sloth Neighbourhood In The Distance Between The Offices%3B The Lawn Club Below

Sloth: Neighbourhood in the distance between the office buildings and the Lawn Club below

I'd like to say pressure of work is forcing me closer and closer to the office so I can maximise time and produce more finely crafted paradigms of the writer's art.

But that'd be a fib.

The reason I've not strayed far is because I want to sing a song of praise and joy for the food Dave Gale has designed at The Lawn Club. 

The pork pie with a boiled egg as loose and free as summer clothing was as tip top as anything previously sampled.

I can't recall a menu more perfectly attuned to summer as this one, but we've always known Gale's good at Confidential. His food at the Podium in the Hilton balanced a high level of technical fluency with creativity and strong flavours. This menu is no different. When he gets his own place in the city - the sooner the better - let's hope the skill levels translate. 

The Lawn Club is a temporary structure that looks very permanent bordered by, as the name suggests, a well-manicured lawn. The building comes in threes, a dull indoor bar, a glass house with a retractable roof and big doors and finally, an open-to-the-air flower-bedecked third space.

It's got a wicker wrap and some ivy on the outside which is struggling but putting up a fight. The views are extravagantly summery. 

Summery view including man wearing a big blue umbrella


Summery view including man wearing a big blue umbrella

The food makes the place special. It isn't cheap and comes in small plate proportions, so Yorkshiremen beware, yet one bite of the £6.50 poached salt cod with garlic mayonnaise is enough to let you know The Lawn Club is sorted for grub. There's a gentle elegance about the fish, enhanced by the carefully selected leaves and the jolly tomato. The fact it's a cold dish should in no way put you off.

The potted brown shrimp and crab with melba toast (£8.50) is even more refined, although piled on its log plate it looks thrown together. The fibres, zestiness, sea ozone of this is a marvel and scooped with the rich butter onto the toast works a treat. 

Shrimp and crabShrimp and crab

I didn't try the steak sandwich but apparently as an ensemble it could have performed without embarrassment at the grand concert halls of Europe.

The pork pie, with a boiled egg as loose and free as summer clothing, was as tip top as anything previously sampled. The bread was superb from Bakerie in the Northern Quarter, so too was the thick roast ham. 

At £10.50 the dish was high on price again (not sure why it couldn't be £8.50 max, surely the ingredients in the fish dishes were more expensive?) but it was lovely. The pie came from that insanely magnificent butcher with its own flock of sheep and cattle herds, Mettricks in Glossop.  

Pies and butter and eggs - glorious

Pies and butter and eggs - glorious

I could go on, only the mackerel dish wasn't as 'just so' as the other food.

In any threesome there's usually one too many. Starter, main, pudds. Usually the pudd might be duff, especially for a savoury fanatic such as me, or the starters are too finicky, or the mains too clumsy. Here all courses work.

The heart of the trifleThe heart of the trifleThe Manchester mess was a proper mess, in the correct disconstructed meringue way, while the sherry trifle was on the second visit eligible for the Margaret Thomson Memorial Award (my long gone grandmother, a quiet woman scared of everything except making trifles, sweets, cakes and peace).

Nuts and chocolate topped a cream like compacted snow, over proper cold custard and a sherry rich sponge to deliver a memorable and very British 'afters'.

I started this finely crafted paradigm of the writer's art mentioning sloth.

Given the drinks list, see the sample in the picture below, together with this food, The Lawn Club is a fine place to cultivate that fourth deadly sin this summer. Slack away the hours, snaffle some egg, a little crab, cold salty cod maybe. 

Some of the drinks available

Some of the drinks available


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

The Lawn Club, Spinningfields, City centre

Rating: 16.5/20
Food: 8.5/10 (salted cod 9, steak sandwich 8, mackerel 7.5,  poached shrimp and crab 9, pie 8.5, trifle 9, Manchester mess 8)
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5 (depending on the weather)

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

Wicker and vertical grassWicker and vertical grass

The least interesting mackerelThe least interesting mackerel

The Lawn ClubThe Lawn Club

A proper good messA properly fine mess

The menuThe menu

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

Georgina Hague shared this on Facebook on May 19th 2014.
MeMay 19th 2014.

I went on Saturday and the food was brilliant, really impressed with this place!! We luckily booked a table as it was absolutely hammered with the weather being so nice. I'll definitely be paying another visit soon, really liked it!

Shaun WhiteMay 19th 2014.

Also went on Saturday food was great,and luckily had a table booked as it was 7 deep at the bar and they only had plastic pint pots to serve drinks in, I am sure they will learn as the summer goes on

AnonymousMay 20th 2014.

Simile after simile after simile after simile after simile after simile ad nauseam.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 20th 2014.

So anonymous two similes in the whole piece. Do you know your grammar?

AnonymousMay 20th 2014.

If constructing food is what is deemed as glorious then so be it. I decided to nip down there last night based on this review and found it overpriced, especially when you think that you can have Steak for two on week days at Grill on New York Street ( book on line) for the same price as the steak sandwich platter and a pork pie with eggs platter. Or let's even say Cote's who do two courses for under a tenner. This is for those people who are deluded to thinking they are cool and are getting a view onto a public space, which it does not. Sorry guys, but there is so much better food and better service in Manchester than the Lawn. It is good for drinks and maybe a posh few crisps but I won't be eating there again.

AnonymousMay 20th 2014.

I like this place very much and Spinningfields is looking great. Simple as that. (I've decided I'm going to be sincerely positive on Mancon once a day about some aspect of Manchester life that is good - just as a corrective to some of the miserablists on here.)

AnonymousMay 20th 2014.

I'm disappointed in this review because reviews that are close to the ManCon offices tend to feature lots of photos of leggy bimbos and a 'Where's Wally' photo of Garner with a sweaty red face clutching a glass of free booze.

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoMay 21st 2014.

That will be MR Garner to you, fuckwit.

Linda RundleMay 20th 2014.

Been twice now, excellent service, food and a lovely ambience . I also like the fact this is not a chain !

Pedro1874May 20th 2014.

When you eat great salt cod you realise why the Spanish kept producing it way after they invented the fridge. If cooked correctly, it is BETTER than fresh cod!

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

What draft ales do they sell?

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