The Jane Eyre, 14 Hood St, Ancoats, Manchester , M4 6WX – Visit Now
The Jane Eyre bills itself as a neighbourhood bar, but it’s much more than that. This Ancoats venue has an impeccable reputation, with the kind of word-of-mouth hype money can’t buy. Why? Because the food and drink options here are as first-rate as it gets.
This Ancoats venue has an impeccable reputation
The venue is a treat, all high ceilings and big open windows looking out onto Cutting Room Square, an area raved about by some of the biggest publications in the world, and rightly so. This whole area is relaxed, upbeat and all about communal eating and drinking, which has been a treat over the summer, after the weirdness of the last couple of years.
When it comes to food, it’s small plates, which is de rigeur across the Manchester food scene lately, and this is no bad thing – it gives the chefs a chance to show off their best dishes and switch things up when necessary, as well as giving the diner a chance to sample a whole host of dishes.
With this in mind, we sample a host of dishes, from salads to seafood, vegan plates to heavy meat. First up, a couple of bar snacks. The simply-titled croquettes are a must for all meat-lovers. Piping hot with a breadcrumb coating, they’re packed to the brim with soft, salty ham hock that tumbles out after a single bite. There’s a hint of manchego cheese in there and a simple but delicious pea and mint dip to round it all off. It’s a must try.
The crab salad is on the other end of the spectrum, all light and bright and summery, cleverly tangled up with fennel and some deceptively hot chilli. The fennel adds a unique but fitting twist to make it a great starting dish.
The bang bang cauliflower is a steal at £6 for a big bowl full of fiery hot cauliflower baubles, dark and ashy from the heat, and coated with a superb siracha sauce. In fact, the bulk of the menu is around this price point, with only a couple over £10 – surprising for an Ancoats restaurant and all the more reason to pop by.
However, the two £12 dishes, the pork chop and the gochujang king prawns, are as good as it gets. The prawns are big and bold, covered in a glorious sauce that seeps heavily into the toast. And while it’s probably the messiest dish I’ve eaten in a long while – you need to dive in, fingers-first to extract all the prawny goodness – it’s also one of the most memorable. I’ll get this again on my next visit, without doubt.
The pork chop is a thing of beauty. It’s thick and juicy, with a nicely serrated edge of crackling running along one side; plus a few chunks of soft tangy apple resting in the groove of the meat and the whole chop rests on a truffle pomme purée so good someone should write poetry about it.
The salmon is another work of art, all bold colours and separated sections – a bright red segment of pickled onion, some chipotle mayo, and a little blob of pico de gallo (a Mexican salsa), all working magic with the fresh, crisp-skinned salmon fillet.
The dessert, an apple tart tatin with ice cream, is high-quality and delicious. Slightly less awe-inspiring that some of the other plates but a fine end to a glorious meal.
The Jane Eyre isn’t just one of the best restaurants in Ancoats, it’s one of the best in the North. It’s that perfect mix of unfussy service, exceptional ideas and pitch-perfect cooking.