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Traditional values

Sous Chef Matt Ward rises to the challenge at the Young Chef Award Evening in Thomas’s Chop House

Published on March 27th 2007.

Traditional values

Billy No Mates will always throw you the line: familiarity breeds contempt. That’s because he’s sad and lonely.

All Billy really wants (like the rest of us) is a sense of belonging. He wants to go where everybody knows his name, and they’re always glad he came. He wants to be where he can see our troubles are all the same.

So Billy ought to have visited Mr Thomas’s Chop House, a sociable sort of place, where if caps were worn they would have been dothed. Every customer is a friend and even if they’re not - they will be by the time they’ve finished a pint of goodly ale.

And it’s this nurturing approach to the business which has produced one of Manchester’s finest young chefs, Matt Ward.

As part of the Manchester Food and Drink Festival Investment in Skills Award, Marketing Manchester is showcasing the talents of young chefs (aged between 17-25 years) in Manchester establishments.

Sous Chef Matt, 21, who has worked at Thomas’s Chop House since he was 16, muscled in on the head chef’s position for one night only to produce a mighty fine feed with a set menu of starter, main and pudding for £22 a head.

This included a hearty starter of Duck liver parfait with red onion marmalade and toasted sourdough. The smoothness and creaminess of the parfait worked beautifully in contrast with the nutty texture and tanginess of the sourdough. There was no shyness in the portion of parfait for which we were truly thankful, however the parfait to marmalade ratio was slightly misjudged. More marmalade please young sir.

Another well-thought out dish was the main of Roasted breast of cornfed chicken with wild mushroom sauce, sautéed potato and spinach. Juicy and rich with flavour, the chicken was cooked with the skin to retain moisture. Considering there were a lot of flavours trying to blend, they had the team work skills of synchronized swimmers. However the perkiness of the accompanying vegetables was slightly compromised due to the quantity of juice.

And while Matt no doubt was collapsing in a relieved heap in the kitchen, we diners got thoroughly stuck into his Chocolate and orange mousse with rhubarb compote and hazelnut biscuit. I’m not overly enthused by chocolate mousse but this was whipped by the hand of someone with expert wrist action, for fluffy, light yumminess and teased with the sweetness of the fruit. Excellent use of texture.

So fat and happy, we watched and cheered as Matt, clearly uncomfortable with front of house was encouraged out of the kitchen with the bashfulness of Bambi to receive a certificate. And deservedly so.

Forget the faux leather gastro pubs which appear to becoming as synonymous to British culture as the brasserie is to France, Thomas’s Chop House is where you ought to be heading for traditional British scran in glorious original Victorian surroundings and faultless service.

As for Billy, you’ll find him still sad, lonely and very, very hungry.

Vanessa Lees

Rating 15/20
(7/10 Food, 4/5 Service, 4/5 Ambience)

Mr. Thomas’s Chop House,
Cross Street,
City centre.

0161 832 2245

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JamesMarch 27th 2007.

Love this place, try the sticky toffee pudding - best in Manchester that :)

HCB1959March 27th 2007.

Ate here a week ago for the first time. Superb food - where else can you get corned beef hash with home made corned beef? This was followed by a moist, pink duck breast with an intruigingly clovey sauce. I found two courses more than enough, but my trencherman boyfriend managed to trough through a chicken pie (as a starter!), a lamb shank from a well muscled sheep AND a cheese board with 5 different cheeses. It is the first time I have heard him declare himself to be full! The victorian tiles and photos compliment the traditional food beautifully. I'll be bringing my parents in for an unforgettable feed next time they are in town.

WillMarch 27th 2007.

The Corned Beef Hash and Fish & Chips in there are to die for. Fantastic wine menu also

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