Sunday 30 October 2011

Albert's Shed, Manchester

Albert's Shed has a lovely canalside setting in the historic Castlefields area of Manchester. Inside, it's as impressive as the setting, with a good, buzzy feel. They have a number of large private dining areas and here I must state the major caveat: I was at Albert's Shed for a large private function with a set menu.

Everyone had pre-ordered, and knowing that this would be a full-scale banqueting meal, I'd selected dishes that I thought would not suffer from being held on the pass and might actually improve by being served up in quantity.  Service throughout was good, with the "who's having what" being efficiently managed, though it did rather remind some on my table of the Dad's Army episode where they have to buy fish and chips for the crew of a German U-Boot: "Also, aufpassen! Wer will Fisch?"  Except here it was "hands up whose having chicken" etc.

I'd picked mushrooms in a garlic cream sauce and lamb tagine from the menu. I didn't have any great expectations for the food given the circumstances, and they were entirely met.  The mushrooms were absolutely fine.  Utterly uninspired, but fine. Oyster and I think a few button mushrooms in a very garlicky cream sauce on a piece of toasted baguettish bread.

It was a bit of a surprise when the tagine came out to find that it wasn't a Moroccan inspired stew, but rather a whole lamb shank in a tomato sauce with more than a hint of ketchup to its flavour.  I don't know if it was bought-in and just reheated.  It was, however, remarkably consistent from plate to plate, which makes me suspicious. Really, if it wasn't bought-in, then it might as well have been. 

Apart from a decent camembert, the cheese was all the sorts of cheese with flavours and bits in that I don't like, but that's my taste.

It's curious, but there was nothing actively bad here.  It was a menu of limited ambition - rightly limited to what they knew they manage for the numbers. 

Looking at the menus on their website, the regular diner will find a menu of more interest, so do not rule it out on my experience on this occasion.  I'd like to say I'd like to go again and try it properly, but Castlefields is the other end of town to where I usually am in Manchester (indeed, this is the first time I've been down Castle Street), so it may be some time before I can get round to doing so.

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