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Beef & Pudding Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield admires the ambition but feels simplicity is a virtue

Written by . Published on April 19th 2014.


Beef & Pudding Reviewed
 

MAKING a suet is like making a souffle, you're a second away from disaster. 

Paul Newman and Dave Mooney are pouring lots of passion and imagination into this city centre venue. Some of it needs refining particularly they need to look at the trademark suet presentations.

Cooking good quality traditional British food is all about timing both in preparation and in serving. The Sunday roast experience in most pubs and restaurants is dispiriting. If you arrive mid-afternoon the life has left the food and the spuds are sullen, the meat tired and the gravy sulky. 

Good, strong traditional British food is a difficult job for restaurants and pubs to pull off. Fundamentally it's home-cooking best appreciated in family sized units. 

To take this style and attempt to hang bells and bunting off it is harder again. This is what the New Moon Company is doing at Beef & Pudding. You have to admire their sincerity, ambition and effort

A light in the night: Beef & Pudding fires up

A light in the night: Beef & Pudding fires up

Unfortunately it's not working out at present.

Signature dish, The Pudding (£14.95 - top picture on this page) is assembled creatively with beef and venison under a suet case, stockpot gravy, horseradish paste, mash and black peas, but it's a clumsy thing.

The peas are a clever addition, proper North of England. My mum made vats of them for bonfire night. Problem is they are placed in the same bowl as the pudding, mash and so on. To get the best from black peas you douse them in malt vinegar, it gives them edge. In one big bowl with the pudd you can't douse with vinegar as it will blight the rest of the dish. The peas should be in a ramekin on the side.  

The Manc Plank

 

The Manc Plank

Meanwhile the gravy was lovely but there was so very little of it. A big separate jug of the stuff would work better to apply as required. 

Finallly, the suet mix was cloddish, a fight. I prefer a thinner suet, one with that rich fatty tang yet breaking to reveal a gloriously moist meaty interior (Bryn Evans at the Grill in the Abode Hotel does it well). Beef & Pudding's offering was dry on the inside and disappointing.

Suet mistakes pepper the menu. The No Beef & Pudding (£11.95), a veggie suet, with cheese and onion was a disaster and should be taken off and re-worked. It was sheer mush, wood glue. Not fit for purpose.

No Beef & PuddingNo Beef & Pudding

The suet and mushy pea 'feature' in the Beef'ham Tower burger was similarly unpalatable. The latter dish at £15.95 shows where the kitchen - or the concept - is going wrong. This wittily titled burger with brisket, onion rings, 'howling at the moon' sauce, brioche bun and so on is clearly a stab at the sort of burger extravagances provided by Almost Famous (review here). 

Beef'ham Tower doesn't work because it feels forced, a reaction to the market rather than a heartfelt product. The mighty quantity of food - it comes with chips - was between the brioche dry again and claggy to the mouth. In AF it would also have been at least £5 cheaper too. 

Beef'ham Tower

 

Beef'ham Tower

We were on safer ground with the Herdwick lamb stew and dumplings at £13.95 that came with root veg, peas and carrots and redcurrant and mint sauce. This was very good, the dumplings bolstering the fibrous and delicious lamb.   

Lamb stew and dumplings

 

Lamb stew and dumplings

A pasta excursion (it's mainly British here but not all) with pork belly pappardelle including chorizo and peas would have raised Italian eyebrows but provided good flavours and solid nourishment. A small (which was in fact very large) portion of this is an entirely reasonable £8.95. 

An 8oz steak at £24.95, simply executed and delivered with thick cut chips was one of the better dishes too.  Expensive again though.

Pappardelle

 

Pappardelle

TripeTripeBack to the beginning and a starter of crispy tripe with Lancashire cheese and pickled onions at £5.95 was a highlight of the meal. For those who fear tripe this is an entry levely combo to introduce you to its offal delights. 

Tempura monkfish cheeks at £8.95 were fine but the meaty nature and sizeable chunks of the fish made the tempura struggle. What was lovely here were the cracking home made lime pickle and tandoori mayo. A 'Manc Plank' (£15.95) was more hit than miss and a good sampler for groups. 

Monkfish

 

Monkfish

The attention grabber in the desserts was an exquisite Seville marmalade custard that went with a decent treacle tart (£5.95) - although the treacle flavour in the tart needs to be stronger. A creme brulee was fine. 

Marmalade custard and treacle tart

 

Marmalade custard and treacle tart

The meals I've had at Beef & Pudding have provided a curious experience.

Paul Newman and Dave Mooney, the proprietors, are pouring lots of passion and imagination into their new baby - they have several other pubs in deepest Cheshire. Some of this imagination is misplaced as with Beef'ham Tower, some of it needs refining, particularly they need to look at the trademark suet presentations. 

Getting into the swing of Beef & Pudding

 

Getting into the swing of Beef & Pudding

The previous incarnation of Beef & Pudding was The Crown. This was dominated by the giveaway feature of all dying city centre boozers, a big screen showing the football in distorted digital.

That's changed.

The bar area in Beef & Pudding is excellent, the array of ales and wines very good. The general fit-out works with its distressed industrial feel. The staff have been well-trained and amiable (although they need to follow the rules in our article here). 

What Newman and Mooney have done is create interest and excitement on a redundant city centre corner - they've put their money where their mouth is and re-animated a part of the city. Good on them.

They now need to calm things down, restrain their imaginations. 

On the website Beef & Pudding describes itself as an 'urban pub and kitchen'. It's exactly that type of thing Mooney and Newman should temper. Simplicity can be a virtue. The overly complex menu in their urban pub and kitchen will only work if the promises made on the menu are consistently achievable. 

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

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

Beef & Pudding, 7 Booth St, City Centre, 0161 237 3733. M2 4AA

Rating: 13/20
Food: 6/10 (Manchester plank 6.5, Beef'ham tower 6, No beef & pudding 1, the pudding 6, fillet 6.5, lamb stew 7, pappardelle 7, treacle tart 6.5, crispy tripe 7.5, creme brulee 7, monkfish cheeks 7)
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 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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34 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Henry VApril 19th 2014.

That pudding is a not good. It's a mile away from what it should be, the suet is nearly chewy pastry, it's a dry filling and stringy over cooked meat, Sam's murders it. The Eccles cake, with cheese, then topped with supermarket custard is a complete disaster. Eccles cake with custard? It's an over sweet soggy mess. And grilled cheese on top? Ferguson Henderson serves a beautiful crispy hot Eccles cake, all crispy, with a chunk of crumbly cold Lancashire cheese wedge, it works wonderfully well. Pure misplaced arrogance to try and fix something that isn't broke, particularly when produced by a master. Mr Schofield is right, this lot need to take a complete re-look at this. 10/20 for me

1 Response: Reply To This...
Steeve HobbsApril 19th 2014.

Supermarket custard? Sounds about right, I am sure they use Bisto and nothing else in their gravy!

TomApril 19th 2014.

Couldn't agree more. THe brand they are building up doesn't suit their food/product. Either make it simple and easily accessible (www.simplebar.co.uk…) or step it up a level (blackhouse.uk.com/grill-on-the-alley…). Good effort but needs refining, big style.

Poster BoyApril 19th 2014.

The biggest challenge will be the location.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Bufty1April 19th 2014.

nonsense - its becoming a little district in its own with Vine, City Arms and a new Wine bar / wine merchants opening up in the Old Odd Bins unit....not to mention thousands of people in the office quarter being in staggering distance....

callsignponyApril 19th 2014.

I couldn't agree more. A group of six of us ate dinner there on Thursday night. The food was hit and miss, particularly the pudding, which was dry with hard, over-done pastry and a tiny portion of gravy. There were errors with service too: steak not cooked as asked and the marmalade custard missing from the treacle tart until we asked. However, my biggest complaint would be the sheer size of the portions - both the pudding and the fish and chips were so huge that they were over-facing. In addition, halfway through the meal, the lights were turned down until it was almost pitch black - it was almost impossible to see what we were eating. Overall, it was disappointing, and a real anti-climax.

AnonymousApril 19th 2014.

The arrogance shown by Mooney & Newman in advance of and since the opening of Beef and Pudding is coming back to bite them on the backside. They've courted the critics and the blaggers alike and as a result they're getting some decent coverage on Twitter. However it is very quickly clear that the food and drink offer is very weak and if they don't get beyond that arrogance quickly Beef and Pudding will be an expensive failure. I have had better beer and food in Wetherspoons for a third of the price.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 19th 2014.

perhaps you should head down there before passing judgement....

Steeve HobbsApril 19th 2014.

Great space, great decor, except that the big TV for football remains firmly in place. Really slow service on a quiet night, four of us tried two planks to start, odd selection of food and wildly overpriced for what it is delivered; cottage pie as a starter is just odd and it is really OK to serve food in cardboard trays in a restaurant and a not very good value one at that. Our mains were all poor without a quality ingredient among them, think below-par Frankie & Benny's but double the price. One positive, the staff are pleasant enough. A confused, disappointing menu, poorly executed - one to avoid and my 2014 nomination for 'Worst meal in Manchester'.

AnonymousApril 19th 2014.

Poor old Manchester, if you want to eat out it's either football/soap "star" self-conscious crap. Or third rate chop house/all you can eat/we don't need any of your Michelin stars around here pal, stodge. Oh for a St John, a Spuntino or a Hereford Road. Good, honest, well cooked, don't need to break the bank scran. Some hope.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 19th 2014.

A bit of a silly comment but the prices do seem to be a pound or two more expensive than they need to be and I do dislike the design of this place. Not the place for a family meal I don't think. What the city centre needs is more more places like Bristol's Cow Shed. Informal, stylish, spacious, grown up and non-gimmicky design serving quality, non-gimmicky food at reasonable prices (at lunch time at least). thecowshedbristol.com/… Granted Beef N Pudding is in a very different building but Cow Shed's approach is what I would like to have seen here.

Bufty1April 19th 2014.

Went part of a small group on the first monday when it opened - a very good meal, decent ambience, trendy premises with a distressed style and friendly staff. We had the beefham tower burger and the fish and chips - tasted great and good portion sizes. In respect of pricing its no more expensive than anywhere else for decent pub grub with a twist. Overall a decent menu with traditional british through to a quirky take on home cooked favourites. Arrogance - please? They've have found a gap in the market and it works well. Tried to take some clients in there on thurs and there was a 1 hour wait for a table - they must be doing something right....

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 19th 2014.

Yeah Nick, feeding food bloggers for nowt.

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

"No more expensive than anywhere else for decent pub grub"? 'With a twist' or not...give over.

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

Buffy, were you on one of the freebies? Most of the bloggers were and they have really showed themselves up on this one. I had the chowder. It has shredded lettuce on top and a solid, overlooked, burnt, in fact, fish cake on top. The shame was the chowder was really very good.

avoApril 20th 2014.

Went for a drink on the first Sunday after they opened. Pleasant atmosphere and the live singer (Andy Stones) was great. Ordered drinks at the bar. Barstaff really need training. Hopeless at free pouring. They should be using jiggers before they get the hang of pouring 25ml shots by eye/count. Second time I went back to the bar, I asked for a wine menu in order to pick some champagne. Rather than be handed one, I was directed to a wall to the left of the bar where the menus were pinned and I had to stand there in the way studying the menu whilst barstaff were buzzing around me.

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

Dry suet pudding, Pappardelle, tripe, chorizo, tempura, marmalade custard. An international feast? No, by the sound of it, just a bloody mess. No thanks.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

Have you tried it yourself yet?

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

It's best to slag places off without having been there. Cos, yeah, that's fair.

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

No, that's why one reads reviews. If the review is middling, I believe it's only common courtesy to give the place a go. However, when one reads that "tempura, chorizo and suet" is being served in one room, it's time to be grateful to the guinea pigs of Man Con and give the place a miss.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

Seems rather narrow minded. I still don't see why you wouldn't try it for yourself before commenting - you never know you may like it! Try reading some of the glorious reviews its had off most visitors, it's easy to gravitate towards the negative comments. I've read the negative reviews, I didn't make my decision of whether to go based on one review like one - I loved it! Always better supporting local business', especially those that have just opened their doors! They offer so much more to the food industry and cities like Manchester than big chain brands. They need all the support they can get. Honestly, I'd say give it a go! If you don't like something, tell them there and then and they can take it as constructive criticism. Better that than missing out because of a review like this one!

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

I agree. What is it with this city, does any chef actually stop and think what they are throwing - literally - together. Simple and good wins the day, stop trying to be all things to all.....

JohnnyTheGoatApril 21st 2014.

Anonymous two above, the reason I read confidential is to ensure I don't waste my money on crap dinners. I have used it for seven years now and it hasn't let me down. I have been having read a blogger who I have since found out that she was given a free meal. She was probably one of your "Glorious" reviewers. The pate was great, everything else was a complete mess. By the way, which one of the owners are you, David or Paul? When you say 'yes, we got it a bit wrong, have overhauled the menu/recipes" I for one wil be back. Keep refusing to accept that nothing is wrong will ensure failure. Front of house are great by the way and I like the bar.

Simon TurnerApril 21st 2014.

Anonymous says; "Always better supporting local business', especially those that have just opened their doors!" Customers aren't philanthropists looking to give someone a few quid and a leg up, they're people who've worked hard so they can treat themselves to a decent meal. They're entitled to a good quality meal. Whether it's served by an independent or not, a new business or not. Don't plead this place is some kind of special case. It rises and falls alongside every other business in the city.

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

The first reply from anonymous is SO obviously from one of the owners, and then to say "I didn't make my decision of whether to go based on one review" is a joke

Olly BeatApril 21st 2014.

Jonathan, great review and balanced as always. I wanted if I may to add my quick notes from our visit a couple of weeks ago. I chose the "howlin at the moon" or more like "bark in' mad to eat this " chicken burger as I'd heard the suet pudding wasn't up to scratch just yet. Nice charcoal grilled chicken which isn't difficult to get wrong, but when the head waiter/server asked how was it I said it was the ****kin' hottest meal I had ever eaten and would give a phal a run for it's money! His reply was "I'll ask chef to tone it down a bit!" Well, if they're removed 6 jalapeño peppers perhaps that might go some way to make it edible. Clearly the chef prepared it using a NBC suit in a lab. Whilst I'm no man v fad nutter I don't mind zingy spicy and hot food, but this was insane. Although I like the idea of adding of rocket fuel to your meal if you need using the supplied pipette (nice touch) but not having chicken marinaded in the stuff for 3 days. As we all know it's easier to add flavour but not take away. We"ll return and give it another go once they get the suet pudding right. By the way Front of house service very attentive and made an effort to look after us.

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

I went a couple of weeks ago thought the food was lovely! good price, nice food, nice restaurant, polite staff what more do you want!!!

1 Response: Reply To This...
anonymousApril 22nd 2014.

Is it just me, or do all the posts on here that look to be by members of staff or friends and family have loads of !!!! marks in them?

rEddie_brekApril 22nd 2014.

My thoughts from opening weekend: seem to strike a similar note of 'hit and miss'... hardcorevaughan.blogspot.com/…/brief-pudding.html… Intended to go back and try some of the mains; still probably will after giving them a bit of time to sort a few bits out. N.B. I paid for my meal, as I do all my meals, more's the pity.

ChrisApril 22nd 2014.

Surprised with these negative comments. I've been twice and the biggest positive is the chips, definitely the best in Manchester. I liked the meat in the pudding, and agree it was a bit too much like pastry and I'd welcome trying it again if they changed it a bit. I did have to ask for more gravy as well. Had the fish and chips the second time, chips spot on again and the fish was very good, far superior to the Grill on Alley and NY. I'd definitely order the fish and chips again, maybe not the pudding unless i was absolutely starving. I'd also say this is a good place to go for a pint and a bowl of chips.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

They're called "Beef & Pudding" and can't get the pudding right (at £15). And you're surprised by negative comments?

HelenaApril 22nd 2014.

I don't see how anyone can comment on here without having been and tried the food. When I first heard about this place I thought it sounded great...yes there are a lot of negative comments/reviews out there but surely no two experiences are the same? I agree I think that a pudding should be tried, tested and perfected before opening a restaurant called 'Beef & Pudding' but I'm still going to give it a go and see for myself.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Henry VApril 22nd 2014.

Helena, reading back it appears that everyone on this thread have been there and tried the food?

Stewie BAugust 14th 2014.

Went this Sunday, food was great, staff were great. Little group of us have a "Sunday Lunch Club"; we meet once a month just to keep in touch. We've rated B&P as our 3rd favourite overall. And we've been to plenty. 9/10, recommended. Not least because it's really not expensive.

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