This spring sees a major refurbishment for north Manchester restaurant Aumbry, with a new look for the dining room, bar, and kitchen.
Aumbry is a tiny cottage-turned restaurant, set in the heart of Prestwich village. The interior follows the cottage theme, with an antique dresser, cream-painted Victorian kitchen chairs, and fresh linen tablecloths. But the large framed photo of Hollywood enfant terrible Dennis Hopper hints at a rather more quirky approach than the decor might suggest, and a glance at the menu confirms it: ingredients listed range from tomato ketchup to fresh curds rolled in hay ash.
All becomes clear once you know that the restaurant is run by husband-and-wife team, Mary-Ellen Mctague and Laurence Tottingham, both of whom have previously spent time working at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck. They opened Aumbry in 2009, promising food inspired by historical cookery and brought right up-to-date by the application of the latest science and technology. In less than three years, they have already won a string of awards: Lancashire restaurant of the Year in the 2010 Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards, Restaurant of the Year at the 2010 Manchester Food & Drink Festival, and Chefs of the Year at the same event in 2011.
The menu is short. Just one meat and one vegetarian option at lunchtime, four mains in the evening. The focus is on quality rather than variety, with dishes that make the most of seasonal local produce, freshly cooked. Inventive starters include a Bury Black Pudding Scotch Egg (hence the tomato ketchup), and Sautéed Snails & Wild Mushrooms, served with garlic and parsley, those fresh curds rolled in hay ash, and malt loaf. For main courses, the current menu includes Roast Wild Turbot with smoked eel pudding, parsley root, frog’s leg & verjuice, and a vegetarian Oat Groat Porage, with white onion puree & cauliflower cheese beignet.
Desserts are similarly creative. Treacle Tart fits the cottage theme perfectly – but this one is served with lemon jelly and a delicate Earl Grey ice cream. The Beetroot and Chocolate Cake comes with Heaton Park honey, hazelnut, caraway & bee pollen, and the cheeseboard features a fine selection of British and Irish cheeses soft and hard, blue and white, smelly and not-so-smelly, all brought together with chutneys and quince jelly.
And the name? An aumbry is the cabinet in a church wall that holds the consecrated bread and wine –appropriate for a bite-sized restaurant situated, as it is, on Church Lane.
Main courses cost between £16 and £26, with starters and desserts at £8/£9. The set lunch menu is £18 for two courses, £22 for three. There’s also a full tasting menu at £60 per head, and a special five-course tasting menu available just on Tuesdays for £25.
Prestwich is just 16 minutes on the tram from Manchester city centre.
2 Church Lane, Prestwich, M25 1AJ
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