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Duttons Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield appreciates the sturdy virtues of good city addition

Written by . Published on October 10th 2013.


Duttons Reviewed
 

Category: Pubs. Score 13.5/20 (Full breakdown below. Venues are compared with similar venues and measured against the best examples in their category.)

DUTTONS is all about the interior and the terrace. The former has all the sturdy virtues of timber fixtures and fittings pubs old and new share, while the latter has views of Manchester Town Hall - a whole landscape of Gothic architecture, two hundred yards away. Just watching the play of light across that beauty justifies chewing a pint of an evening.

Chain operators have tripped over themselves opening and closing here for ten years. Duttons will not fail.

Otherwise the exterior of Duttons is from the worst period of British architecture, the 1980s, when Britain lost its bottle and decided inoffensive was best. The result was offensively bland buildings such as the Commerical Union Building Duttons occupies. It's shamed by the Town Hall.

But, as already stated, inside all is forgiven.

You can sit comfortably in booths, sway on high seats, or go for trad tables and chairs at reasonable heights. There's leather and plush and comforting woods. The artwork down to the loos shows scenes of Manchester, some bad, some really good, the Toy Tram photo is excellent. A wall piece including cotton thread and reels with a redcoat's jacket refers, I suppose, to the Turkey Red dyeworks in Blackley which used to give the British Army its scarlet uniform in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Good feature that.

Good staff, good interior

Good staff, good interior

The terrace has giant fun hogsheads to sit within and of course there are heaters out there too.

Design-wise its untacky, neat, pleasantly inoffensive, except for one horror.

A big hogshead barrel to sit within

A big hogshead barrel to sit within

Please dear JW Lees, fine local brewery and Duttons owners, get rid of those dreadful plastic box hedges. This is Albert Square you know, Manchester's premier address? It's not the cafe section of a Vending Machine Convention in Barnsley.

Duttons and the hedges that never need trimming

Duttons and the hedges that never need trimming

The food is good standard pub food and the prices reflect that. Over several visits my pick has been the oven baked cod at £12.95. This is about as expensive as it gets. The beautifully flaking cod comes with mussels, peas, creamy sauce and a good mash.

Cod and mussels and mashCod and mussels and mash

A 'Nibbles' starter of maple glazed sausages (£4.95) was a let down with the sausages not given a crispy enough skin while the fatty, loose bacon that wrapped them made the whole err on the side of repellent. If there had been a maple glaze I missed it. Another starter of fishcakes (£5.95) was better, good texture, strong flavours, nicely put together.

Horrible pigs in slack blankets

Horrible pigs in slack blankets

A steak sandwich (£8.95) worked well with a lovely Stilton base that gave it that added blue cheese kick plus there was an enlivening red onion chutney.

Shame that my dining partner had asked for the sandwich without the Stilton, but the pub staff immediately offered a replacement or a free pudding.

Winsome Eton Mess

Winsome Eton Mess

We had the free pudding. The subsequent Eton Mess (£4.95) was a suitable overload of sweetness incorporating goodly amounts of ice cream, Chantilly cream, fruit and meringue. 

Previous visits have included sampling pub staples such as the fish and chips (£9.95) which provided a crisp batter and again well-timed flesh.

There's a predictable drinks range, a pub drink range.  Lees Bitter or the new MPA (Manchester Pale Ale) and a wine list that never pushes the limits - a shame given Lees owns Willoughbys wine merchants. On one visit though a New Zealander Sauvignon Blanc, Wild Rock, did a good sharp gooseberry job for us. 

It's an infamous goose

It's an infamous goose

Service on every occasion has been attentive and concerned. Clearly there's a good training programme here and strong leadership. The steak sandwich error lay with the kitchen rather than the waiting staff.

There is nothing ground-breaking about Duttons. Sometimes I feel with the food (and certainly those hideous plastic hedges) there might be too much of a suburban feel to the place, that Duttons Albert Square could be on a canal somewhere in the suburbs, that it's not 'city' enough.

But then I also think given the place's evident popularity that might be just me, an inveterate city centre user, forgetting that most of the varied audience - young and old, male and female - comes from those places.

It should also be remembered that this site has usually been about unending, consistent failure. Chain operators have tripped over themselves opening and closing for ten years. Duttons will not fail here: in a little over four months it's already an established success. 

Indeed with this place and the refurbished Joseph Holts pub, Ape and Apple, and Jack Sprats on John Dalton Street plus the far more upmarket Albert Square Chop House, the Armenian Taverna and Tampopo, Manchester's main civic area has developed a very welcome local accent. Only the pisspoor Slug and Lettuce belongs to a grim chain. There's something pleasing about that local dominance.

One last thing. I'm arranging a skip to arrive at 5am next Tuesday. Going to guerrilla assault those plastic hedges. Bin them. Who's in?

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

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

Duttons, 2-10 Albert Square, City centre, M2 6LW 2DS. 0161 241 6849

Rating: 13.5/20 (remember venues are rated against the best examples of their type - see yellow box below)

Food: 6.5/10 (sausages 5, steak sandwich 7, fishcakes 7, oven-baked cod 7.5, fish and chips 7, Eton Mess 6.5)
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

Steak sandwichSteak sandwich

FishcakesFishcakes

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

AnonymousOctober 10th 2013.

Just goes to show how biased Man Con is. Duttons is truly dreadful: born the food and interior / exterior. Jar because Duttlms advertises with Man Con it doesn't get the slating it deserves. We need more of a brasserie-type very offering reasonably-priced dishes such as moules, proper sandwiches and salads rather than paninis and than Caesar salads. The food is over-prices, the interior reflects the worst of suburbia and it must go. May be Living Ventures could step in and tranFo the place.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldOctober 11th 2013.

Oh dear. I reviewed Duttons as I found it on several visits, never once having a hosted meal but paying every time. Editorial is independent from sales in Manchester Confidential. I know this because I'm editor and that's my agreement with the publisher and how we work together. This is what I'm going to do with you Anon. I'm going to set Angry Beetham Tower on you twitter.com/AngryBeetham…

AnonymousOctober 10th 2013.

*transform

4 Responses: Reply To This...
ThornersOctober 10th 2013.

Wow, if "transform" is the only mistake you think you've made in that rant...

Paul CarterOctober 10th 2013.

Ha ha ha

IanOctober 11th 2013.

hahaha

Calum McGJanuary 8th 2014.

I love you, Anon

AnonymousOctober 10th 2013.

Thanks, 'born' should be 'both' and 'Jar' should be 'Just'.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 11th 2013.

...and you need to go back to school!

CharlotteOctober 13th 2013.

You missed "Duttlms"

AnonymousOctober 13th 2013.

OK Charlotte, point taken! I blame it on iPhone. :-)

AnonymousJanuary 8th 2014.

Erm...

Hero
Manc GuyOctober 10th 2013.

This place, like Velvet, struck lucky with the brilliant summer weather we had in Manchester and that's probably played a part in their early success. It's a great little place, the ale's top and they do daily drink deals too. The staff are friendly and on the ball. Just make sure you're not wearing shorts at night, because security won't let you in. I realy hope the place does well.

AnonymousOctober 10th 2013.

This is THE best location in town and wasted....

paulOctober 10th 2013.

I think Ill try the steak sarnie trick

AnonymousOctober 10th 2013.

A bigger Pâtisserie Valerie, Paul or Apostrophe would be ideal.

CulldoggOctober 10th 2013.

I like ManCon and often read and believe the reviews. But I have to agree with the first commenter. This place is prime location but comes across as cheap and tacky. If you are in the city and have all the great choice we have in Manchester today, why the bloody hell would you go to a pub that makes you feel like you are on the high street in xxx (insert crap town of your choice) ?

Hero
Manc GuyOctober 11th 2013.

"This is THE best location in town and wasted...."? "A bigger Pâtisserie Valerie, Paul or Apostrophe would be ideal."? Listen to yourselves!!! Hey!...let's have something that's already in Spinningfields or something that the Spinningfields crowd like. You know...twelve quid burgers and eight quid cocktails. Maybe have an Italian restaurant there, coz Manchester's screaming out for ANOTHER Italian restaurant. Awww heck!...why not have another Nerocostabucks because coffee seems to be the national beverage now. It's Duttons people and the only one in town. To all you ManCon trolls...please alllow Duttons to stay :(

1 Response: Reply To This...
Blue PeterOctober 19th 2013.

Well said Anonymous. Why is it that someone posting their view in a robust manner these days is immediately labelled a troll? It's the internet equivalent of that other overused term, 'bullying', which is now often defined by the aggrieved party's perception alone. Please stop being so precious people.

John EdwardsOctober 11th 2013.

JW Lees are a local brewer giving that bit of Manchester something it really needs - a good pint of ale in nice surroundings at under £3.50. Good on them. There are plenty of places to get a pint of gassy over priced lager just round the corner. Can't comment on the food, as I have not eaten there.

Mark GarnerOctober 11th 2013.

Trolls. Yes, we have a few that's for sure. Duttons has now become, along with Alberts, my local, simply because the beer in both places is nothing short of top. Both family owned; the food in Alberts is far better, it has to be said. However, as somewhere to sit down and kick back, drink a couple of pints then, having got the munchies, start on battered onion rings, moules, dipping chips, bloody great. I shan't be taking a date there for dinner any time soon but i really enjoy the gaff. The staff, like the Albert, are a sheer delight. You Trolls, especially the first, why don't you go and do one to any other online mag that has the same trusted brand as The Confidentials. Oh, there isn't one.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
John EdwardsOctober 11th 2013.

Well said!

AnonymousOctober 11th 2013.

Trolls?? No, just opinions. Isn't that what this comment area is for? To air ones opinions and experiences? Or do we need to keep it all nice and fluffy and bow down and agree with whatever ManCon's opinion is? As for Duttons, I don't rate it. My reason for that, I tried it twice and on both occasions it failed. The first time there was a group of us. The waitress got our starter orders wrong and very rudely tried to blame us for it then stormed off in a huff. She completely forgot one of our mains and mine was stone cold in the middle! When I sent it back it came back obviously nuked in the microwave because it was far far to hot, and it got that hot too quickly which is why it is evident it was nuked. We than had a gaggle of waiting staff and restaurant manager trying to appease us but it was like being in a circus rather than being in a restaurant. Bunch of clowns. But as I am one for giving somewhere the benefit of the doubt I returned for a second time and it wasn't much different I'm afraid. The rude waitress was nowhere to be seen but the food was either undercooked - like the sausages and bacon mentioned above - or over cooked, and they always get something wrong - like the steak sandwich ordered 'without' the stilton as mentioned above. Surely that prime location could have been given to something more inspiring and of better quality all round. Waste of space.

AnonymousOctober 11th 2013.

I think I'm great, even though I know that I have a personality only a mother could love.

Calum McGJanuary 8th 2014.

There are far too many trolls on ManCon wrecking the site for everyone else. Not all anons are trolls, but all trolls are anons... is it time to ditch Anonymous posts? :D

AnonymousOctober 11th 2013.

Great pub with lovely beer - Just love the Manchester Pale Ale!! Not tried to food but will venture down there soon to sample - well done JW Lees for changing this place from the crappy pasta / pizza places this gaff has always been.

AnonymousOctober 11th 2013.

Uninspiring and dull with a dated suburban-boozer type interior. Yuk.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 11th 2013.

I think I'm great, even though I know that I have a personality only a mother could love.

AnonymousOctober 11th 2013.

I think Slug is better than Duttons and that's saying something.

1 Response: Reply To This...
rinkydinkJanuary 8th 2014.

Erm, no it isn't

JimOctober 12th 2013.

I like it but all my friends say it's the worst pub in Manc and they refuse to go! Selfish barstewards...

AnonymousOctober 12th 2013.

A hole of a place. The steak-frites place which was there a couple of years ago was much better.

AnonymousOctober 12th 2013.

I would like to see this succeed. Albert Square needs a decent, relaxed Brasserie type place, somewhere to go with visiting family for a nice coffee and a bite to eat but Im not sure the food offer here is up to it. Those pigs in blankets look truly horrible. In fact some of the pictures make it look more like a traditional boozer. Nothing wrong with that of course but if thats the market its aiming for, it should just do away with the pretence (ie the plastic topiary!!) and present itself accordingly.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 12th 2013.

The menu and look of the food in the pictures looks utterly bog standard. I don't think I would be comfortable taking my visiting parents here unfortunately.

Ghostly TomOctober 13th 2013.

I just can't bring myself to go past those tacky, plastic box hedges. Get rid of them and I just might give it a try....

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