Isinglass Part II

So, where was I before yet another dinner interrupted proceedings?

We'll get onto tonight's meal in due course but it had a lot in common with Isinglass. The Marcliffe, like Isinglass, knows its audience and takes pride in doing the best by them. Isinglass has spotted a gap in its regional market - decent local eaterie - and taken it up a notch or two. The menu features lots of simple grills and things but there's some considerable flair here, hence the stew is made with ox-cheeks and cherry ale, the ingredients are all locally and, more importantly, well sourced and there are side dishes like haggis mash, kale with cream and bacon and cauliflower in a tempura-style batter with anchovies and capers. It's a great compromise between not scaring the locals but giving it some appeal to the more foodie-oriented.

As mentioned before, it's not without its flaws. The chips were poor and floury, the tempura batter, while tasty, was oily suggesting the pan might not have been hot enough, and the bread was pretty poor. But then that stew was exemplary (horseradish and oregano dumplings? yes please), I'm never going to turn down a starter of Lancashire Cheese Crumpet with beetroot and when it's all finished with a Horlicks pannacotta with shortbread "spoon", I was very taken. So, the pannacotta wasn't quite soft and wobbly enough and the shortbread was a little too soft. The flavours were lovely and it's something I'm going to try at home. Plus service was charming, there's a great room upstairs (think wine bar meets lounge in a Scottish country house) and they'll keep serving til very late in the evening. Given that it's a very short drive from Old Trafford, anyone watching United can now shun those infamous prawn sandwiches and get a decent stew instead. Before driving back to London...

A lovely meal, excellent value and a little inspiration: that's not a bad night out in my book.


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