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Gabriel’s Grocery Store reviewed

Jonathan Schofield learns Gabriel’s Kitchen is to close, but the Store is here to stay

Written by . Published on February 21st 2011.


Gabriel’s Grocery Store reviewed

So there was no time on Saturday to get a leg of lamb; then there was football on Sunday blocking out the morning. The roast dinner was in jeopardy.

Its breakfasts are up there with the best in Manchester. The coffee is too. If you’re in Chorlton, even on a Sunday, it makes for a cracking cafe stop-off.

Normally it would be leg of lamb, or a rib of beef, but the only meat purveyor within walking distance open on a Sunday is a Tesco Metro. I really didn’t want a £3.50 reconstituted battery chicken assembled from various parts.

There was only one choice: a late afternoon all day breakfast of great size and loveliness from a trusted supplier.

The logic went like this. If you can’t enjoy the greatest gift to food from Britain then go for the next best. And since it was going to be an all boy family Sunday, sons and father, then as long as there was a large amount of food including lots of meat we’d be happy.

The trusted supplier was Peter Booth. I’d only been to his newish Chorlton fooderie Gabriel’s Grocery Store, once before. On that coffee occasion I’d read the menu’s breakfast description, and a deep yearning had settled in.

Booth under his Modern Caterer company runs the wonderful Whitworth Art Gallery caff, the catering in the fabulous International Anthony Burgess Foundation and will soon be commanding large scale catering at Jodrell Bank. His first independent venture Gabriel’s Kitchen is also well-loved in the city. Sadly it’s not long for this world - more of that later.

The Grocery Store is all about the catering. The shop stocks fruit, veg, and a bottled and packaged range of food and drink, but it’s limited. There’s not enough critical mass to fulfil a determined shop.

So the menu is all important. There are specials plus little stars such as a soft boiled egg and soldiers (£2.50), hot porridge, sultanas and honey (£3), brushetta of chilli beetroot and Wensleydale (£5.50), chargrilled rib eye steak (from Mettrick’s butchers in Glossop) for £9. The children’s menu comes contains such things as sausage, bubble and squeak and chocolate and almond brownie with organic cordial for £5.50.The fourteen year old and I went for the ‘Full English’ (£6.50) – our alternative Sunday roast.

I’ll mark the components out of ten. Dry cure bacon (8/10), pork sausage (7/10), black pudding (9/10), runny egg (9/10), sautéed potatoes (4/10), potato wedges (5/10), mushrooms (8/10), beans (8/10), fried bread (8/10). Mix the individual elements with the sheer joy of the gooey, mixed together messy delight and the collation was a proper winner. The bacon and the black pudding were top of the bill.

The ten year old had the American pancakes which came with crispy dry cured streaky bacon and maple syrup (£5). “Looks good,” I said. “Um,” he said. “Don’t lick the bowl, it’s bad manners,” I said looking back a minute later as the lad polished it off. “That was delicious, couldn’t help it,” he said.

I managed to steal some of the pancakes off him. He was right, the heavy sweet American pancake danced a jig with the superb bacon and the glorious maple syrup. A chocolate and almond brownie as dessert maintained the standard: the cakes are of a high standard.

For drinks the boys had Fentiman’s Dandelion and Burdock (Booth should really get in the better Fitzpatrick’s Herbal Health version from Rawtenstall) and freshly squeezed orange juice. I had lemonade and then a coffee. The latter was smooth, non-bitter. Exceptional.

Later I talked to Booth. Business is growing well. The building might not be the best looking, an annex of the Post Office, set back from Wilbraham Road in the most claustrophobic part of Chorlton, but the footfall is high. In fact it turns out that it was the Post Office people who invited Booth into the building in the first place.

That link is clear in the toilet which is entertainingly decorated in letter boxes snapped in Manchester, Wales and the Lake District. This was a talking point with the boys.

But there was sad news too.

“We’re selling Gabriel’s Kitchen, the overheads were high, there’d been a flood from the flats above, and it wasn’t really working out. We’re proud of it and the food we produced but with all the work we’re putting into Jodrell Bank and the other sites we were a bit stretched and something had to give,” says Booth.

Gabriel’s Grocery Store needs to improve the shop offer if it wants to be credible in that aspect of its business, but its breakfasts are up there with the best in Manchester. The coffee is too. If you’re in Chorlton, even on a Sunday, it makes for a cracking cafe stop-off. The place closes at 6pm during the week and 4.30pm on Sunday.


Rating: 15/20
Breakdown: 8/10 food
4/5 service
3/5 ambience
Address: Gabriel’s Grocery Store
Wilbraham Road
Chorlton-cum-Hardy
Manchester

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: Gordo gets carried away

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

John HarrisFebruary 21st 2011.

I loved the breakfasts in Gabriel's kitchen, although the drink selection could have been a bit wider. Hope the new owners keep the faith

JeanieFebruary 22nd 2011.

I loved Gabriel's kitchen especially the breakfasts and the burgers, shame to see it leave, will have to be the Whitworth for us now!!

M30February 22nd 2011.

Mettrick´s = The Best Butchers in England. It's the sort of shop that exists everywhere in Scotland and Ireland yet conspicuous by its absence in the Manchester area. Just wish they had a shop in Salford. The lack of butchers in Manchester is a nothing short of a disgrace, so this appears to fill a gap of sorts.

markFebruary 22nd 2011.

Yep, thats a point M30... there are no butchers around... I'd love to start buying from a butcher... Anybody any good suggestions for one in or around city centre? Man Con.. theres an article there...

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2011.

You're a year too late, the butchers closed down because Tesco opened.

M30February 22nd 2011.

Anonymous, please back this up with more details. Which butchers has closed, and why has it closed as a direct result of Tesco?

Tescobashing has become a cliché.

There are no butchers within Manchester City Centre, and Tesco Metro have been there providing a service (one which nobody else was willing to) since the early 90s. The blame doesn't lie with them.
The nearest thing is the meat stall at the Market, which is crap, and mostly involves frozen meat and rabbits imported from China (I was unmaware of a Great Lancashire Rabbit Shortage)

Other than the Halal places on the Cheetham Hill Road (which I avoid for ethical reasons), there's only a couple of butchers in places like Chorlton and Didsbury. There are some brilliant ones out in the sticks in places like Milnrow, with Hopkinsons in Lymm being well worth a meat-run.

Some enterprising meat aficionado should open a butchers somewhere in the city centre. If it does half the business the (very expensive) new wet fish shop in Chorlton does, it'll be a smash,

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2011.

There used to be a butchers off Lincoln Square but it closed perhaps a year or so ago.

What a shame that Gabriel's Kitchen on Upper Brook Street is closing. Had many a good breakfast and lunch there (even if the different chefs meant quality went up and down). With the redeveloped hospital campus, a new hotel up the road and the large student population I'm surprised it's not sticking around to make the most of it. But perhaps the area isn't quite there yet. Perhaps the over representation of student accommodation means trade is too irregular; perhaps there was just too little passing trade to justify the overheads, perhaps the recent opening of a subway finished it off? Whatever the reason thanks for being the first decent cafe in Chorlton-on-Medlock and putting the area on the foodie map for a while. Here's hoping something decent will take its place because I don't want to have to treck all the way to Chorlton-cum-Hardy for a decent brekky!

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2011.

m30 it's a simple math. There are no butchers in the city centre, but lots of tescos.

City + tesco's = no butchers

M30February 23rd 2011.

It's not simple "math" at all, Anonymous. The much mentioned butchers in Lincoln Square has been closed for around 10 years from what I've been told.

Tesco came to Manchester City Centre and provided a service that no other business was providing, or was willing to provide.

If you honestly think that there was a butchers on every street corner before Tesco arrived in town then you're only kidding yourself.

I've just returned from a town in Scotland which has one of the highest numbers of Tesco stores in the UK, yet it still boasts several butchers and bakers - and not of the poncey type that sell wild boar and olive foccacia, proper shops for normal people who want a pound of mutton or a sliced loaf.

Brian CFebruary 23rd 2011.

As an alternative to traditional butchers we do get the farmers markets. I visit the one in Picaddilly and nearby to home in Eccles. Problem is that generally I wont pay the extortionate prices. It's as if the use of the word 'farmer' or 'market' or 'organic', coupled with hand written labels doubles the cost, however it doesnt double the quality. If these markets dropped the silly prices, they might encourage consumers to make a monthly meat shop and become decent alternatives to the supermarkets rather than 'something to do and maybe buy a venison burger or so'

M30February 23rd 2011.

Having visited the Farmers Market in Eccles many times on a Saturday morning, I feel that it needs to come down to earth somewhat.

I don't really want a pound of ostrich meat or some kangaroo burgers. I'd settle for a pound of sausages, some bacon, and a couple of pounds of beef skirt.

I'd be interested to hear what Pat Karney would do about it.

FoodographicFebruary 24th 2011.

Why hasn't anyone mentioned the fantastic Frost's in Chorlton precinct around the corner? I've been using them for years both personally & professionally. Lee Frost especially is always happy to offer advice and if they haven't got it, they'll get it for you. Always good to have a good butcher on side.
As for the Manchester markets, I love the white beef from Savin Hill in Cumbria. It's not all expensive, Michelle offers cheaper cuts like shin which is marvellous slow cooked in a stew.

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