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Oct 24, 2011 02:01 PM

[Salford] Mark Addy

I remember the Mark Addy when it opened in 1981. It was a manky city centre pub at best. Renovated in 2009, it looks like the cellar of Victorian riverside warehouse. For me, it’s a place for which the word “gastropub” was invented. That’s the right mix between “gastro” and “pub”. When you enter, you hit the bar area serving a good range of beer. There’s also a range of bar snacks that set the style of the place - Spam fritters or a Blacksticks Blue bhaji, for instance. And then there’s the more restauranty end – with an open kitchen so there’s chefs to watch should conversation flag.

There’s a changing menu which reflects the seasons and local produce. It’s supplemented by the odd special or two. And my starter was one of the specials – mushrooms on toast. Now, these weren’t just any old mushrooms. These were foraged wild mushrooms, lightly fried and retaining some bite. They sat on the toast which, unfortunately, had collapsed into a soggy morass due to the generous portion of sauce which had been ladled around it. Tasted fab though.

The other starter also had issues on the soggy front. A baked Morecambe Bay shrimp soup topped with puff pastry. Again, a fab flavour but the pastry kept falling into the liquid which drowned it. Possibly a deliberate reference to history – the real Mark Addy saved over 50 people from drowning in the Irwell during the 19th century.

For mains, two mackerel fillets had been lightly smoked, providing an interesting little backnote of flavour. There should have been another backnote of Leagrams blue cheese. Presumably it was in the sauce but, although this was savoury and enjoyable, there was no real sign of cheese maestro Bob Kitching’s work. There was a little chard, some new potatoes and a scattering of chestnuts which seemed an odd combination with the fish.

Mutton was absolutely bloody delicious! Long cooked melt in the mouth mutton. Packed with flavour. Rich sauce. A spoonful of a celeriac cream. And Nodding Pudding. No, me neither. It’s a mashed potato and flour mix – a sort of bubble and squeak without the squeak. Just the thing for mopping up the sauce. I really liked this plate of food. I liked it a lot.

Service was that sort of relaxed, friendly, efficient style that was well suited to a pub. Also well suited was the excellent range of well priced wines by the glass.

I think we might just become regulars. Well, there’s the brawn and piccalilli toast to try. And the oxtail/tongue combo main course. Oh, and the dandelion & burdock roast duck with Lyth Valley damsons. And it’s probably the only place outside of an Oldham chippy that you’re going to see rag pudding.

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  1. That does it! Next trip I'm going oop North. How nice to have a place like that handy.
    And pray tell what is rag pudding?

    2 Replies
    1. re: buttertart

      I have had a couple of nice meals at the Mark Addy, and I do love their big, heart, tasty approach to things. However, the thing I can't get over, is the room. I just find it depressing (has it got a flat roof? It feels like a flat roof pub). Maybe it's just the case that every time it's been chucking it down and grey, but it's something I can't shake, even though I like the food.

      1. re: buttertart

        Rag pudding. It's a suet pudding steamed in a cloth.

        'Tis exceptionally local food - as mentioned you'll rarely see outside Oldham (a town on the north east of the Greater Manchester metro area)

      2. Harters - I thought it was quite upmarket when I used to go in '82, but then we were staying in the flats next to the Kestral brewery. From the sound of the menu it sounds just the sort place that group of friends would enjoy when we get together.

        3 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          I used to go for their Cheese Lunch in the early 90s, but defected to Dukes 92 because it wasn't like sitting in a suburban conservatory.

          I had the Addy booked for a meal when over in August but had to cancel due to riots.

          1. re: mr_gimlet

            Ah - you want a cheese/pate lunch in the Manchester area? You want the Royal Oak in Didsbury. No frills. Gut-busting quantities (the only place I know where doggy bags are left out for folk). I don't drink these days but herself usually enjoys a very decent pint of Marston.

            1. re: Harters

              Royal Oak only does cheesy weekdays, so was only suitable for retired gourmands or people on holiday.

        2. Now closed (at least the restaurant part of this pub), as reported in today's Observer.

          I looked at the website a couple of weeks back and thought it a bit odd that it hadnt been updated for a goodly while.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Harters

            Disappointing. Do you think manchester can actually support a handful of decent restaurants, or is there not enough trade? Or fickle clientele?

            1. re: mr_gimlet

              According to the Observer, it was the cost of renovations (presumably to the kitchen) that has done for it.

              The city centre which, as you know, is quite small is probably in better shape for "decent" than it has been for years. I've over a dozen places on my list.

              That said, there's a lot of mediocre about - as mentioned elsewhere, Chinatown is stuffed with mediocre. As is the glitzy bit of King Street, with the likes of Jamies Italian and the like. Both stuffed full of customers, so what do I know.

              The Mark Addy and, in particular. Robert Owen Brown was always a bit quirky and I'm sorry to see it go.