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Wrights Chip Shop Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield gets battered (well, why not?) in Manchester

Written by . Published on November 18th 2013.


Wrights Chip Shop Reviewed
 

ONCE-UPON-A-TIME my dad bought some land in the Lake District as a place to dream dreams.

It was like a super-sized garden shed. He would lose himself sat on a garden chair at the highest point, pipe in hand, looking into the middle distance imagining some improbably prosperous future involving garden centres and plant propagation.

Never have pipe-dreams been so accurately defined.

I've tested the fish twice in Wrights, the cod and the haddock, both break beautifully giving thick lush chunks of white flesh. 

From thirteen to fifteen years of age I'd every Sunday have to clamber into a beaten up old Land Rover. Then my dad would drive the eighty miles from Rochdale to the Lake District and we cut grass across five acres of pasture. One man and his boy went to mow a meadow.

We also built fences to protect my dad's collection of exotic trees from the rabbits and deer that loved to munch on the tender buds. They're still there, the rabbits, the deer and the trees - now too tall to suffer at the jaws of rabbits. 

Wrights outlook on the street

Wrights outlook on the street

The Land Rover had a maximium speed of 50mph and took hours to get anywhere. I read so many books on the journeys I went through the entire stock of Rochdale Central Library. In the condensation on the vehicle's window I would write the names of the girls I fancied at Greenhill High School.

There was one reward for all the loss of days-off school - aside from the big skies and views on 'The Land', as we called it.

On the way back through Waterfoot in Rossendale we'd stop at the chippy. This was, I recall, purpose built, something like a converted garage. Although I might be getting mixed up with another great chippy on the road between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.

I can measure my early youth by roadside chippies.

There were two outstanding qualities about the Waterfoot fish and chip shop.

These were the fish and the chips.

Only judge a chippy on these two qualities: the fish, the chips

Only judge a chippy on these two qualities: the fish, the chips

You should only judge a chippy from these items.

Pies are usually bought in. Condiments too.

Sausages are often sourced from a company called Bits of Ear, Eye, Gristle and Gland Ltd, located in a backstreet near an abbatoir in a depressing Lowry painting over a river black with pollutants in a dank valley where it's always raining and the kids are lucky to get away with rickets.

Chippy sausages are vile.

Always.

No exceptions.

But the fish and the chips in a chippy are the sole work of the chipmeister and his or her minions. They define a good chippy, hence the name: fish and chip shop. 

Delightful cod

 

Delightful cod steaming up the camera lens

Wrights on Cross Street in Manchester city centre is the first chippy in this location since - let me get my old maps out - since forever. It does nostalgia standard fish. Nostalgia standard is perhaps the highest standard anything can acheive as memory is usually a liar making the mundane golden. 

I've tested the fish twice in Wrights, the cod (£3.40) and the haddock (£3.60), both break beautifully giving thick lush chunks of white flesh. The batter is not so crisp it shatters like a crème brûlée cap, nor horribly thick. There has been no suggestion of sogginess. So far - and two visits is perhaps too few - the fish have been just about perfect.  

The chips are fat, sturdy, filled with good potato - £1.60 for a regular portion, £1.90 for a large. First portion excellent, second portion too flaccid and flabby. Variable. 

Now a Yorkshire purist - just about the only thing Yorkshire types are purist about - would argue that dripping should be used in the preparation of the fish and chips rather than vegetable oil. Time though moves on - another difficult concept for a Yorkie.

Truth is, dripping is out, its stench and its visceral meatiness means in 2013 its just about banned itself. Certainly Wrights' fish and chips don't suffer from dripping's absence.

There are some other interesting food ideas.

For instance you can buy two slices of thick black pudding (£1.50) in a bag -  almost like black pudding biscuits.   

One black pudding slice in a bag gone, one to go

 

One black pudding slice in a bag gone, one to go

I bought a pair and took them for a walk to St Ann's Square. I felt like cock of the north, king of the city. Fish and chips followed by a couple of black pudding slices is as good as street food gets. 

Even better news is I don't have to mow an acre of meadow and rake it then drive south for ninety minutes in a drafty rattle-bag of a vehicle before noshing at Wrights. 

I can walk there in five minutes from my Confidential desk.

In a northern city centre strangely empty of good chippies Wrights is very welcome. The challenge for them now is consistency, let's hope their frying standards don't drop.

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

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

Wrights, Cross Street, City centre.

Rating: 14/20 (remember venues are rated against the best examples of their type - see yellow box below - so in this instance we're talking comparing chippies with chippies)

Food: 7.5/10 (haddock 8, cod 8, chips 6, black pudding 7.5)
Service: 3.5/5 
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.

 

Wrights with Tracey Emin-style neonWrights with Tracey Emin-style neon

The bill of fareThe bill of fare

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

AnonymousNovember 18th 2013.

More chippies I say.

Alex Lyness-BrownNovember 18th 2013.

Jonathan Schofield. I do not need to know about your childhood, idyllic though it sounds. I had to read through all that flowery subterfuge to find out if the chips were good or not. Cut it out.

8 Responses: Reply To This...
PryonicNovember 18th 2013.

Just as a counterpoint I liked all of the review. The world would be a very boring place if everything was just the cold, hard statements such as "chips good, fish excellent".

Poster BoyNovember 18th 2013.

...it's called writing.

@ShaunathegrinchNovember 18th 2013.

Alex, you should get on Twitter mate, you'd love it there. Everything in 140 characters or less..

SleuthNovember 19th 2013.

Sleuth is going to be doing a Haiku review of the week in his Friday column for you Alex. Seventeen syllables, done: then you can get on with your austere, no nonsense day.

SamanthaNovember 19th 2013.

I liked the childhood bits. An enjoyable review. Sam

AnonymousNovember 19th 2013.

Couldn't agree more Alex, pointless self indulgent waffle for 3/4 of the article then a couple of lines on the main purpose of the review - the food.

AnonymousNovember 21st 2013.

Clarkson does it every week in the Sunday Times Driving Section, double page spread of words, skip to the last paragraph to learn anything about the car. In this example, I rather like, JS paints a picture of days gone by where all you needed was a good chippy, in a town spelled water-foot but pronounced wa-ta-fud.

AnonymousOctober 18th 2014.

Agreed Alex - excuse the pun but what a load of codswallop to trawl through to find out that their chips are variable and that they serve black pudding!

AnonymousNovember 18th 2013.

The best fish, chips and mushy peas is served at Brodsky's at the RNCM. The fish and their chips are consistently superb. Sometimes they do a Friday special of two meals for £10. Bargain. You also get to seat at a nice table rather than in a shop window.

Tyson the BeerhoundNovember 18th 2013.

Worth checking out. It's about time we had a chippy right in the centre. When will chippies go back to having proper pies, though, and not the industrial Hollands?

Shaun WhiteNovember 18th 2013.

Visited twice food great service a little cold, and putting mushy peas on top of fish is a schoolboy error.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2013.

The gravy is just Bisto gravy which is just a massive no. The chips were not the best either

NorthernGeezerNovember 18th 2013.

And the black pudding looks deep fried and overcooked :-(

Poster BoyNovember 18th 2013.

It must be time for one of Gordo's Best of Manchester Fish and Chips. Where the winner (improbably) is Cicchetti. Again.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
FoodieNovember 18th 2013.

Best black pudding: Ciccheti

AnonymousNovember 19th 2013.

Best Bisto gravy: Ciccheti

AnonymousNovember 19th 2013.

Best ketamine: Ciccheti

Beast is backNovember 19th 2013.

I walked past it last night and I will be trying it out soon

gazzathom40November 19th 2013.

Had my first visit last week and agree - excellent fish and chips. Will be a regular customer

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 19th 2013.

They've got a loyalty card on the go and you can reserve a table too.

AnonymousNovember 19th 2013.

Tried Wrights for the first time last week and was really disappointed with the service, it seemed to take forever for them to serve us (2) and luckily there wasn't a queue (otherwise I'd have given up). The chips were OK, nothing to write home about. Have to be honest and say I prefer the Lowry Fish Bar.

AnonymousNovember 19th 2013.

I went on Saturday and was disappointed, the chips where soggy and flaccid and tasted weird, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying not to be sick. There is a much better chippy on Lloyd street, more traditional and always delivers

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 19th 2013.

That's funny, because I went out on Saturday night and ended up disappointed, soggy and flaccid. I spent the rest of Sunday trying not to be sick.

FoodieNovember 19th 2013.

Try Cicchetti ket and you will feel much better

AnonymousNovember 19th 2013.

'Try Cicchetti ket and you will feel much better'. Eeee by eck, I remember seeing those signs on the sides of trams during the war. It cheered us up no end, and with Jerry dropping bombs on us 'n' all.

AnonymousNovember 19th 2013.

Liverpool road fish hut is the best.

Kate Edwards-TullochNovember 20th 2013.

Essence in Swinton is the best fifteen minutes outside the centre and an amazing choice of dishes

AnonymousNovember 20th 2013.

Have you tried their coal tar soap?

MeNovember 20th 2013.

I tried Wrights last week, agree the fish is beautiful, but the chips are just average. I think they use the same chips as Manchipster Plaice and Frankies in West Didsbury, I'm sure they are precooked then frozen. Tony's chippie on Piercy Street just past New Islington is the best local to the city centre. Tib street chippy can be good if it ever opens!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
ChipLoverNovember 20th 2013.

Yes they do Pre fried and frozen bought in!!!!! RUBBISH!! Whatever happend to fresh cut tatties in a bucket full of water!!!????

AnonymousNovember 20th 2013.

Thatcher saw those off like she did with the coal mines.

Peter BrockwellNovember 20th 2013.

F&C shops not prepping their own chips is an absolute disgrace. ive come, late in the game, to fry my own chips at home using a teeny deep fat fryer and the chips you can make are a revelation. Also its a piece of piss. Blanche for a few minutes at a lower heat, then fry for less time on a higher heat. The beauty is you can go french fry style or fat hand-cut as your preference fits, 'just fried' or 'extra crispy'. Mine uses about 800ml oil which i re-use and then chuck out (in my black bin) when it goes a bit nasty looking. All this 'russet, king edward is best' malarkey doesnt get a look in, i just use whatever's to hand: bakers, jerseys, any old spud will do. You know what? They taste delicious. And they're dirt cheap, so for a chippy not to make them onsite is mind-boggling. If any chippy in town built a consistent reputation for having the best chips they'd serve hundreds, if not thousands, of portions out a week which would go a long way towards their profitability. But they complain it's 'too time-consuming' to do it by hand, and too 'wasteful' for a machine to chip them, so end up getting 3663 to deliver frozen. Of course, if other readers out there know of somewhere that does prep their own chips please share the info. i'd love to get a regular chippy in town. As it stands i occasionally go to Foster's in Didsbury - in my opinion not half as good as it thinks it is and waaayyy expensive - or either Battered Cod, which is at best meh.

GimboidNovember 20th 2013.

Pretty good, room for improvement - haddock very tasty, batter a bit thin and squishy for my taste, I prefer it to be crisp enough to support a bit of fish held between my fingers, which it wasn't. Chips definitely brought in, even had that semi-translucent oily effect. No need for that when you've got plenty of prep space to work in. Proper chips please Wrights, otherwise you can't call yourself a proper chip shop!

AnonymousNovember 21st 2013.

I used to live opposite the Fish Hut on Liverpool Road and have long pined to have my own chippy because (although the Fish Hut is okay) so many chippys are just dead average it seems a crime against basic food prep. Yes they've suffered in recent years as we're warned everything will kill you unless it's organic and hand knit; but we're over that now, McDonalds is selling burgers at it's highest ever level and (most) Pret sandwiches have more calories in them than a Big Mac. Consumers are making their own minds up so yes, a decent chippy is back in vogue - Fosters is a good example. From this thread it is consistent that the fish is good here but mixed results on the chips - the EASIEST bit! Why has no-one spent the time to develop the perfect chip cooking process? Ignore Heston, he's a mentalist. Of course decent potatoes chipped on site is a MUST, not bought in, but then soaked in a salt water solution that is just right to allow osmosis to occur resulting in crisp yet fluffy chips, twice fried may I suggest. I HATE chips that are white and shiny, only just cooked because the frier can't run the pass with some forethought as to likely demand - so it becomes a rush to get anything out that is deemed 'cooked'. Maybe i've been watching too much Breaking Bad of late, but if you own a chippy, and are reading this, spend a few Sundays in the shop experimenting and then spend the time during service to produce to perfect combination of fish and chip and surely you'll have them cueing out the door - like they used to in JS's day (probably). If not, I will be forced to compete.... one day.

1 Response: Reply To This...
FoodieNovember 21st 2013.

Zzzzzzzz

AnonymousNovember 21st 2013.

The shop looks like a 'theme' chippy inside.

AnonymousNovember 21st 2013.

You possibly were getting mixed up with the chippy on the road between Littleborough and Tod, JS www.grandmapollards.co.uk/… There's often a queue out the door. TBLZebra (still can't login)

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

Biggest custard slices ever!

Mike WDecember 7th 2013.

We need more proper chippies in central mancs. Looks like The Lowry on chapel st is no more/up for sale at least

AnonymousDecember 17th 2013.

the one on Liverpool road imo does the best chips and gravy when driving past and starving.

AnonymousDecember 20th 2013.

This place has an impressive fit out. The good feedback ends there. During my visit, the staff were in the middle of what seemed to be a family row, with no regard for customers the service was shoddy. And I've never eaten such a soggy, tasteless cod thus far. Shame!

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