Beef and Pudding, 37 Booth Street, off Fountain Street, Manchester, M2 4AA – Visit Now
Beef and Pudding, a new gastropub in Manchester, is quintessentially Fountain Street – man-shaped and vaguely corporate. Kate assesses its hearty menu…
Beef and Pudding, Morecambe and Wise, Chalk and Cheese, Fear and Loathing, whatever. Fountain Street is a weird one, a narrow tributary snaking through that characterless precinct between Market Street and St. Peter’s Square. This workaday borderland I associate with banks and temp agencies, cheap suits and perspiration. Beef and Pudding, our new gastropub from the Cheshire-based New Moon Pub Company, is quintessentially Fountain Street – man-shaped and vaguely corporate, just the ticket for a happy hour meal with the lads from the office. They’ll even be able to polish their handles on the bar’s giant Twitter screen, an ill-advised decorating flourish if ever there was one. There’s also an app. Pubs just shouldn’t have apps. Just. Shouldn’t.
Beef and Pudding comes to us singing a big song of hearty food and quaffable ales, a siren song to the likes of me. But when we’ve sat down, my friend and I, and are getting to grips with our food and drinks, all I can think of is that fine old American expression: the mouth is writing checks that the ass can’t honour.
It’s not bad, mind. It’s very much okay. It’s early days. It’ll do fine. But it’s exasperating to tally up the missed opportunities here. Beer-wise, my friend is not at all pleased with the way his Tatton’s been kept, but a pint of Merlin’s Sir Galahad for me is green and hoppy and happening. The selection of ales here is frankly disappointing for a pub chain coming to us from the craft beer-bounteous land of Cheshire. Not much of interest to go at before you get to the knee-jerk big breweries.
There’s also an app. Pubs just shouldn’t have apps. Just. Shouldn’t.
The meal’s single great play comes from a starter of Dublin Bay prawn thermidor, a big scallop shell full of briny prawn, cream and cheese, alongside garlicky toast, which gets me all excited. But my friend’s “Proper Cheshire Cheese Bon Bons” are little balls of bland, which is odd, because proper Cheshire cheese is anything but. For mains, he orders the suet pudding and mash, which has beef and venison in it, because one of us has to. I order the Old Spot pork belly and mash, thinking it’ll be a change and seduced by the promise of Calvados gravy. On paper, these plates read different, but when they arrive we see we have essentially ordered the same thing, down to the identical sauce. The pork is dry and flabby. The suet pastry is dry and flabby. The portions are generous, but neither of us wants to get more than halfway through this lot.
If you’re looking to impress someone, there’s The Manchester Meet, a beef rib joint feast for four at £98. But then we are in Cheshire. Going to Cheshire, even while actually staying in Manchester, is always going to cost, and this meal is no exception – getting on for £60 for a two-course meal with a couple of pints, which sends us out the door feeling stung, stuffed and yet, somehow, still hungry. We are full but this place did not feed us. Beef and Pudding, yes. But good beef? Good pudding? Not on the evidence of this meal. If these things matter to you in life, keep on walking down Fountain Street and go find somewhere else to eat. But if you don’t mind so much you’ll probably like it.