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The MC Café Bar and Grill Reviewed

Gordo on good dining, rose veal and a fine chef

Written by . Published on May 7th 2013.

The MC Café Bar and Grill Reviewed

ALLOW Gordo to tell his wonderful readers (well 95% of them, the ones leaving death threats aren’t so wonderful) why he is qualified to comment on beef. 

Spoon this stuff out and spread it onto the chop. This mixture really would make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. But this chop is no sow. 

He was once a butcher. A story for another time.  But part of the story for today is about ‘rose veal’, the supposed ethical way of producing very young beef. Do the ethics work and does it taste good? The former is up to you lot, the latter is a subject that Gordo feels he can pontificate upon. 

At the same time it gives Gordo the chance to review The MC Café Bar and Grill at Abode Hotel, which is now in the firm grasp of one of the most consistent chefs in Manchester, Bryn Evans. MC of course stands for Michael Caines, the well-known chef, and proprietor of Abode 

Interior at MC Cafe Bar and GrillInterior at MC Cafe Bar and Grill

True veal is ‘crated’, living a life in a shed and fed milk supplements, slaughtered at around 20 weeks and weighing in around 475lb. It’s a pale ivory colour and as it is unable to move about, the meat is velvety, and super tender. It needs to be served with flavours and textures added, turned into a wiener schnitzel or the fillet pan fried with a good wild mushroom sauce. 

The offal (liver, kidneys and so on) are superb. 

In the late eighties, this method was banned in the UK and veal production came to a halt which had a surprising effect. Because veal calves are almost exclusively the produce of dairy herds and the young fellers were of no use, they can’t produce milk, so they are slaughtered a few days after birth. 

So the result of trying to be kind may be thought to be the absolute opposite. We murder them straight away and they are not given a chance. Meat from days old calves is called ‘bob’ veal and Gordo has never experienced this product.

Recently Gordo has been trying out so-called ‘rose veal’ with mixed feelings. This is where the calves are allowed to grow into their cow-teens (8-12months), and then get the chop. Clearly smaller than their adult brethren, the meat is pinker, and has a more delicate flavour. 

A pattern is starting to form in Gordo’s mind, several examples of this meat has resulted in a flavour bordering on sour. A strange smell about it. 

The Fat One has come to the conclusion that where he has a full chop it can be outstanding. This is the case in a big turnover restaurant, for example San Carlo, where the dish, brilliantly seasoned and served with peas and bacon simply can’t be beaten. At restaurants with a smaller turnover we see the problem of sourness. Is this because this meat doesn’t like an overlong hanging period? 

That may well be the problem and Gordo would like the chefs’ opinions as well as the producers’ please. 

Window dressingWindow dressing

In the meantime, Gordo found himself hankering after a steak and kidney pudding one day. Bryn Evans is a master at these. 

When he arrived at The MC Café Bar and Grill at Abode Hotel he was distraught to find that the dish was off. Weeping, he ordered Morecombe Bay shrimps on toast and a… rose veal chop. 

Now the restaurant with the longest name in Manchester at Abode hotel is comfy in white and brown. The latter colour is not a favourite of Gordo’s unless it’s called brunette and falling over the shoulders of fit women. The Abode gets over this problem as it’s a very fit hotel with a fantastic frontage and pretty outstanding service. 

The menu is a good one that deals with residents who may well be looking for some great, but simple fare and the boys and girls who are looking for dinner before a night on town. It’s also a good place for meetings during the day and pre (and post) theatre dinners. 

It’s also a damn fine place for a solo effort with a paper and a steak and chips on your own when you can’t be arsed cooking for yourself (Schofield, the editor, has slipped down there a couple of lunch times in recent months to eat meaty puddings and fish and chips and sneak wine and probably read poetry or architecture books knowing him).

Schofield's fish and chipsSchofield's fish and chips

The menu is worth having a blimp at (click here) to see one that is delivering what the punters want. Bryn has come up with a cosmopolitan choice and generally delivers well, this menu boxes above its weight as a hotel ‘second’ room. There’s the fine dining MC at Abode restaurant in the basement. 

The shrimps (£9.50) as raw material are bloody good. Served hot, a big portion, in blade mace butter (‘drenched’ is a good term here) on top of a crumpet that needs to be crunchier. Which is the only fault Gordo found with this dish; it needs texture. Glorious flavours mind you. A good squeeze of lemon juice makes the dish jump. 

Shrimps on crumpetsShrimps on crumpets

Now, onto that veal cutlet; ‘English rose veal rib chop, bone marrow, herbs’ (£21.95). The provenance is Jack Jones bespoke butchery, so it’s looking pretty darn groovy when placed on the table. No sour smell here folks. Served with skin on fries, Gordo ordered bacon and buttered Savoy cabbage from the extras, (£3.50). That last two were tip top. 

Now, one thing this rose veal malarkey does need is flavourings, just like the younger siblings. Salt’n’pepper ain’t enough. Bryn knows this and sticks on a marrow bone split in half down its length, smeared with a thick layer of chopped fresh herbs and a binder of breadcrumbs, roasted off in the oven. 

Spoon this stuff out and spread it onto the chop. This mixture really would make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. But this chop is no sow. It’s as it should be, still fresh, with a flavour that is just showing that it has spent a few months on good, fresh grass. 

It’s a tribute to the protein supply.

Is it ethical? 

Well, Gordo was a butcher, ladies and gentlemen and butchers see stuff that most people shouldn’t. But butchers see livestock as a simple thing: foodstuff that has channelled the sun’s energy, via plants and photosynthesis, into protein that is tasty while giving a nice variety of nutrients as well. Oh and they see profit as well. 

If it wasn’t for humans needing to eat, if vegetarianism was taken up universally, there would simply would be no livestock. No cows, beef of any description, lambs, pigs, chickens, grouse, pheasant, you name it. 

Just lots of plants. 

Boring eh? 

Bryn’s rose veal isn’t. Give it a go, see what you think. Give the rest of the menu a go as well. That Mr Evans is a little star of the North West food scene.

You can follow Gordo on Twitter @GordoManchester 


MC Cafe Bar and Grill, Abode Hotel, 107 Piccadilly, City, M1 2DB. 0161 247 7744

Rating: 14.5/20 (Remember venues are rated against the best examples of their kind so check out the box below)

Food 7/10 (Shrimp 6.5, Rib 7, Cabbage and Bacon 7)
Ambience 3.5/5
Service 4/5

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.

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crisbyMay 7th 2013.

Some of us are omnivores who think about the lives led by the animals we eat. For us, milk-fed crate-confined veal is a no-no, that we have to face living without. I can't help feeling, however, that there must be a middle way to achieve that pale tenderness without the cruelty now banned. (Don't forget, non-vegan veggies, that dairy production depends on the slaughter of surplus calves).<br /><br />I've never encountered sour-tasting rose veal. Maybe you've been unlucky?<br /><br />By the way, where is &#34;Morecombe' Bay? Is it in Devon somewhere? Or is it that glorious place an hour or so up the M6, which only has one 'o'?<br /><br />Another question. am I the only one not impressed by &#34;famous chef at ...&#34; restaurants? How often does Mr Caines actually set foot in the place?

nices wolkchenMay 7th 2013.

I worked in the basement restaurant there , Mr Caines comes down i'd say 5-6 times a year. He mainly just comes down for the &#34;A night with Michael Caines&#34; evenings. <br /><br />He still works regularly at Gidleigh Park his 2 michelin star hotel in devon. <br /><br />Rose Veal really is ethical. I commend your mention albeit a fucking big one about such a great British product. Give the calves a life, eat rose veal. <br /><br />How can a restaurant review contain no mention of service? <br /><br />Isn't it funny how all the restaurants that advertise on manchester confidential get regular good reviews.

NorthernGeezerMay 17th 2013.

Ste here once........................decididley average in my view.

AnonymousMay 19th 2013.

I got to Middleton for my veal which taks me back to the 70's The source www.the-calf-at-foot-dairy.co.uk/ethical-veal.html…

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