One sight that you will never see leaving is the opening of a new venue. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, something is always popping up, filling gaps you never thought were their or shouting to the masses with outlandish fronts. In Manchester, it can sometimes be hard to keep up with the new offerings, but I did manage to get myself down to a place that has been making a name for itself, despite only being open for around a month now. The first time I ventured into The Blue Pig was as part of The Liquorists rum trail numero 3, and I promised myself that I would return for a few reasons. One – the decor. Two – the food. Three – the drinks, Four – the service and Five – the atmosphere. These sound like pretty bog-standard reasons that should apply to all eateries, but you can sometimes struggle to name a good list that acquire themselves to the basics. I feel however that The Blue Pig can stake its name right up their.
Located on the corner of Back Turner Street and High Street in Manchester’s snazzy Northern Quarter, its distinctive yet subtle blue floor to ceiling frames can entice you well to peer in, with the hanging blue pig as their sign a mere photo taking opportunity in its own right. Outdoor seating a plenty, it looks like a quaint coffee shop setting, until you step inside that is. With an entrance way that is entwined with vines, ivy and plants, you enter a room that could easily have you thinking you stepped back into a different era, with lots of dark colours that become complimented with the huge amounts of light striking through from the large windows. Two items that immediately catch your eye are the deli counter and the bar. Both oozing Parisian styles, stocked to the brim with delights in both food and drink. Specials boards hang from the ceiling, lit up by large hanging lanterns or old-fashioned lamps attached to scissor beams. One special that caught my eye was their 333 offer. ‘The Blue Pig presents our ever so seasonal, weekly changing menu featuring some of the finest produce around today sourced from both local and continental suppliers. Featuring 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 puddings, choose one dish from each for just £20.00 or individually priced dishes to suit.’ What better way to dive into the unknown!
Well to be fair they do have another way, they offer sharing boards – 5 styles including fish, meat, cheese and veg that have a host of delights mixed on them from salmon and monkfish terrine to chicken liver and ale pate. For this visit though I opted for a starter of Potted Duck that came with cumquat butter, toasted beer bread and onion pickle. Created from fresh (instantly recognisable from the first bite), and presented well with the duck housed in a small jar, propped with two warm pieces of toast and pickle with salad to dress. To wash it all down with, I gave the bartender a ‘freedom of choice’ i.e. I’d like a G&T but I want you to choose the gin. And choose well she did, offering me Berkely Square and Fever-Tree tonic. No sooner was I sipping away, the next course was being placed in front of me – Slow Roasted Fillet of Beef. A healthy portion of braised ox tongue, watercress and chervil puree, crushed new potatoes and veal and red wine juc. Heaven! The juices soaked straight into the piping hot ox tongue creating a mouth-watering bite every time. It was rather disappointing to demolish it though as anything that is presented in a layered effect, the ox tongue balanced upon the crushed potatoes, i think is a masterpiece in its own right. Speaking of masterpieces, i had a tipple that oddly complimented the course – a Negroni. Using Beefeater gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth, it seemed to offer a new take on the flavours that the ox tongue gave, becoming a little softer after the infusion of red wine juice.
The third and final course offered me a Chocolate and Raspberry Terrine with raspberry coulis. Not too rich and perfect for someone who is a chocoholic, but may not like it too bold. Chocolate and raspberry have always complimented each other, and this delivers straight away, with again presentation being spot on too. Now I have to admit, this was my second desert of the day here. When I arrived I ordered myself something unusual, Gin and Tonic Strawberries, gin soaked strawberries set in tonic and cucumber jelly. The power of twitter meant I had seen this posted online before, and despite not being a fan of jelly, my gin demon (or hero) told me to give it a go. Housed in a rocks glass, its freshly cut strawberries look fantastic with a dusting of icing sugar on top and the thin slices of juicy cucumber work well. A theme that has set itself during my visit started with this dish too – presentation. To cap my visit off, I yet again asked for one of the staff to choose any style cocktail for me, and i was presented with one of my personal favourites in an Old Fashioned. Using Woodford Reserve, Angostura Bitters and maple syrup, it was a fantastic way to end an afternoon.
I’m not one to rave about a venue too much, but the concept that The Blue Pig have come across is spot on, and I couldn’t recommend any higher. The service by all staff was friendly, the atmosphere was relaxed with chilled out music been played at a good level, the food was great and the drinks on par with any high-end bar. The decor has that ‘homely’ feel to it, but also has an up-market look which you can easily spend a good few hours sitting in their window booths or single table seats.
It’s a rarity that I plan on coming back to a restaurant so quickly, but in a few days you’ll see me trying out the rest of their ever-changing menu. Come down and join me!