[Manchester, city centre] Choice
We’ve always liked Choice but, like so many other places over the years, you sort of realise that you havnt actually been for ages. It’s in the gentrified part of the city centre now known as Castlefield but, for those of us of a certain generation, it’ll always be Knott Mill. As always, there’s a decent “Modern Brit” a la carte, supplemented by a keenly priced set menu (three courses for £16.95). I’ve never known it really busy but it was quiet when we were there – just three tables occupied on a midweek evening. I suspect they must have lost business to the recently opened Brunning & Price pub just across the canal which feeds you on very much the same style of menu.
Dinner was to be a game of two halves. Or, to stick with the same metaphor, a game from two divisions. My meal was certainly Championship while my partner’s was languishing down the bottom of League 2 – the sort of place that Stockport County can only aspire to these days.
Crab cakes had a nice balance between crab and potato and had a decent crisp coating, but they were woefully underseasoned. There was a little rocket, a scattering of brown shrimps (Choice has always liked local produce) and a basil dressing. Similarly underwhelming, was the main course – a tomato & Ticklemore tarte tatin – what it lacked in seasoning, it tried to make up for with alliteration (unsuccessfully). More rocket and tomato in an accompanying salad. Jersey Royals provided the seasonal carb.
Back in the Championship, I was getting stuck into a fritter made from a vegetarian black pudding (yes, Bury has heard of vegetarians) and Blackstick’s Blue. Think of this as a sort of Scotch egg thing – with the melting cheese surrounded by black pudding and then breadcrumbed and fried. Oh, yes, it was good.
Free range chicken breast formed my main course. Alongside, baby carrots, a lovely carrot puree and griddled baby leeks. Served separately, a chicken pie. Well, actually a ramekin filled with casseroled chicken and veg and topped with a little puff pastry. Tasted great but was a right faff to try and eat. In the end, I managed to get a napkin round the very hot ramekin and tip it onto the plate, where I basically stirred it in to the existing sauce. That worked and, overall, this was a rather lovely plate of food.
Didnt bother with dessert or coffee.
Do we keep it on our list? Well, yes we do, at least for now. I remain an advocate for the place while herself is more doubting, fearing it is becoming the stuff of relegation to the Blue Square Conference.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the chips. These were real chips. Proper chips. The sort of chips you'd make at home. Uneven in size and fried to brown - just the right side of being burnt. And perfectly seasoned.
Herself didnt even want to taste one. I think it would have changed her attitude towards Choice.