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Whim Wham Cafe Reviewed By Gordo

He likes his shire eggs, he likes almost everything, especially pies

Written by . Published on September 9th 2013.


Whim Wham Cafe Reviewed By Gordo
 

The Whim Wham Café (WWC) is a little over a year old, opened by the rather dapper Alix  Walker and Jessie Naven. Alix has done the hard yards as a bar tender, along with being a DJ. It was about time he got a proper job. Sorry Alix, was that ‘mixologist’? 

This is genius, the best of the rash of ‘Manchester Eggs’ by a long way, the rabbit sweet, moist, the black pudding earthy and a quail’s egg, runny in the middle.

The couple have transformed a railway arch into a very quirky space, diametrically opposite to the current love of Americana and white trash cooking currently casting a very sticky net across the Granada region. 

The visit was on a Friday afternoon; the purpose was simply to take on some carbs for the evening marathon with this reviewer’s pal Howie, who can have a drink – as they say.

The problem was the menu. Gordo opened it, read it. 

For five minutes. 

 Whim Wham food - crab

 

Whim Wham food - crab

 

It was like being stood in front of the wardrobe in a Narnia novel. The Wardrobe whispered to Gordo: “Fuck it Fatty, get in here and take the afternoon off…” 

Good grief this menu reads well. 

‘Homemade shire egg, Lancashire black pudding, tender Cheshire rabbit, and soft quail’s egg served with mustard butter’ (£6) - main picture at the top of the page. 

This is genius, the best of the rash of ‘Manchester Eggs’ by a long way, the rabbit sweet, moist, the black pudding earthy and a quail’s egg, runny in the middle. Crispy outside and a mustard and butter sauce brewed by a modern day alchemist who has produced gold. 

‘Potted spiced crab, served with herb toasts’ (£4.75). 

The crab was at the top of its game here, but the butter was a little obvious and the herb toast was like matching Grace Kelly with a sweaty coalminer.  The herbs far too course, dried out in the oven.  

Whim Wham food

 

Whim Wham food - chicken

‘Free range chicken thighs with fennel, red peppers, olives, lemon and basil, fondant style new potatoes served with a chunk of bread’ (£11.75 or £6.50). 

This again was a lovely dish; if you don’t like black olives bullying a bit, maybe you should ask for them not to be in the dish. The chicken was slightly overdone to Gordo’s palette; mind you he likes his pink on the bone in the French manner. Crispy is how you describe the skin and it needs to be said that the writer would eat it again. 

And again.

Pies.

Whim Wham food

 

Great North Pie Co

Just the word gives Gordo a boner. They are from the artisan pie makers, Great North Pie. Gordo didn’t have one on the occasion, but weirdly came across the Great North Pie Man, Neil Broomfield, a few days later at the Castlefield artisan market, open every Sunday. Gordo bought three of them; they are beautifully made. 

Choosing three, ‘lamb curry keema and peas, The Great North Meat Pie and classic Lancashire cheese and onion’, Gordo cooked the three off for a tasting last Sunday. The first two aren’t for eating on the go. They both need a gravy, as they can be a bit dry; but the cheese and onion is a star. (My fave is another non-meat lovely, the beetroot, white Cheshire, feta and apricot. Delicious. Ed)

Gordo will be off to try the Lamb Curry next week, it’s going to interesting eating it with WWC’s gravy and mash; may well be perfect.

‘Pecan Tart with Vanilla Cream’ (£4.25)

Great memories with this, my mother in law God bless her made these with the best pastry ever and served them with whipped vanilla cream; WWC’s was every bit as good as the ones produced in the Hague household thirty five years ago.

Whim Wham food

 

Whim Wham food - pecan power

Having read this menu for the third time it becomes clear that a lot of work and thought has gone into it, offering a framework for long dinners, quick lunches, bar food, pre-theatre and a nice juicy sandwich. It’s about as a close as you can get to a French neighborhood café that cooks to standards that would be included in the Gault & Millau guide at the very least. 

It’s a lovely place that reminds you of somewhere in the forties, more gracious times on the Home Front and real food cooked well. If the chef keeps thinking of what she is about, the food can only get better. 

Service is knowledgeable and the wine list at the right price and carefully chosen. Gordo finished up drinking a velvet Rioja Navajas Joven with Schofield. At £5 a glass and £18.50 a bottle, from Hanging Ditch wines who know their stuff. 

Love it; it’s a Gordo Go. 

This piece is dedicated to Natalia Bergier, who suddenly passed away last week. Daughter of a gentleman and friend, George Bergier, and a beautiful person. Mark Garner will be unable to ever drink another bottle of Meursault without a tear in his heart and a toast to her on his lips.

You can follow Gordo on Twitter here @gordomanchester

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

Whim Wham Cafe, Arch 64, Whitworth Street West, M1 5WQ. 0161 236 0930

Rating: 15/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below, venues are rated against the best examples of their kind)

 
Food: 8/10 (shire egg 9, spiced crab 7, chicken thighs 7, pecan pie 9)
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 3/5

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.

 

Whim Wham foodWhim Wham food

 

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

RobbsySeptember 9th 2013.

I ate there the other week - excellent food (a beef short rib slow braised with Guinness and honey) and ferocious cocktails - nice people too!

Anne TuckerSeptember 10th 2013.

my favourite restaurant in Manchester, fantastic unusual food and delightful people - i would have given the ambiance more .... especially the side room with a curtain over the window, like a French routier ...

AnonymousSeptember 10th 2013.

The cocktails alone justify a visit here.

Brendan ReidenbachSeptember 10th 2013.

I had the rabbit & black pudding eggs a while back, they were fantastic. And yes, the cocktails are savage As the article said, it is a nice break from the Americana muck which has made its way up north from Shoreditch on a fixed gear bicycle

CarynSeptember 11th 2013.

Makes the best Gin Flip in town

HieronymousSeptember 11th 2013.

Lovely interesting food. Definitely worth one more for the ambience.

AndrewSeptember 11th 2013.

Looks really good!

GadgeSeptember 12th 2013.

That's some fantastic food photography. Really gets one salivating. Were the herbs far too 'coarse'?

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