The Hive Stretford, Unit 124, 125 Chester Rd, Stretford Mall, Stretford, M32 9BH – Visit Now
It’s fair to say The Hive, Stretford’s best new restaurant-bar, has had a more tumultuous time than most in 2020. Open for just one day before the first lockdown hit, they impressed in a big way during our visit in late summer. And now they’re offering something special for the festive period with the launch of a delivery service of their Christmas menu this December, now that we look to be in Tier 3 for the next few weeks. Delightfully, Santa Claus (or it might have been one of the owners, dressed up, I’m still not sure) popped by CT Towers, aka my flat, in his big white van to drop off an advance preview of the wares on offer.
Enough for two, the goodies include a freshly cooked bag of hot mains and a cold starter, along with a more-than-welcome bottle of prosecco. First up, the starters.
The country farmhouse terrine is a fine way to kick things off, consisting of roughly hewn pate and smoked streaky bacon, a neat wafer-thin pickle to add a bit of tartness and bite, plus a next-level spiced cider chutney that’s a lot more potent than it looks. It’s the kind of opener you’d expect from a high-end restaurant, as is the smoked salmon starter. Multiple layers of quality smoked salmon give way to a deeply satisfying and crayfish mousse, fresh and creamy and a perfect counterpoint to the lightly-spiced parsnip remoulade and sprigs of watercress. As cold starters go, these are great festive-tinged dishes that take the classics and add a smart modern twist.
Half a dozen thick slices of beautifully-cooked lamb
For mains, no less than three hearty options, again, enough for two. The Moroccan lamb rump is arguably the finest option, with around half a dozen thick slices of beautifully-cooked lamb topped with chermoula, a North African marinade, and a little dollop of baba ghanoush to dip it into.
Then there’s a herb and hazelnut crusted cod loin, a beautiful piece of white fish dressed up with suitably wintry flavours. It comes with potato fondant, a Champagne reduction for extra decadence, and some salty cabbage leaves. It pairs wonderfully with the Prosecco, unsurprisingly. And the roasted Hispi cabbage is an unexpected delight, all crunchy textures and seasonal additions like hazelnut stuffing, lovage and chunks of softened onion.
It ends on a high with the chocolate and orange mousse, a rich, gloopy concoction that could satisfy any sweet-toothed chocoholic. My favourite part? The thick chunks of praline dotted throughout that snap in half with a delightful crunch. It’s billed for two but I must point out I’m a very, very greedy man.
The Hive are doing South Manchester proud. While Stretford has long waited in the wings, it looks like now its time has come, led by the excellent crew at the town’s latest and greatest restaurant. Check their website (link below) and social channels to find out how you can try their wares out during December.