This little modern bistro is tucked away down a cobbled side street, just away from the ghetto of chain places that infest this end of Didsbury. My partner had been before but today’s lunch was a first time experience for me.
As you might expect, there’s nothing adventurous about No. 4 – just decent offerings of Brit bistro food. Like a cheddar cheese soufflé, which was light and cheesy and came with a splodge of tomato & chilli sauce. Like a goodly sized portion of four king scallops, just cooked through, and thankfully, still with the coral attached. They sat on a slice of crisply fried prosciutto, some pea puree and a sprinkling of pea shoots.
This bit of spot-on cooking preceded another spot-on bit of cooking in the form of calves liver. I’d been asked how I wanted it cooked and I’d replied that I’d like it how the chef would like it. Thankfully, he doesn’t like overdone liver. The thin slices must have been in the pan only a matter of seconds to come out as pink and delicious as they did. There were a couple of slices of back bacon, a dollop of spinach, a bigger dollop of none too sloppy mashed spuds and a well seasoned light sauce. And, for a bit of texture contrast a few battered onion rings. It was the sort of plate that I reckon to be a nigh on perfect lunch dish. Oh, and they offer this in large or small portions and, yes, of course I went large.
Another dish offered in two sizes was my partner’s fish and chips. Small in this case but certainly sufficient that she wasn’t about to go away hungry. Fish comes as haddock goujons, in a very light, very crisp tempura batter which makes it a very different dish than you get at Fosters Chippy at the other end of the village. Not necessarily better – but different; more refined; more elegant. Good chips – proper chips, not fries or “fat” chips. Mushy peas, of course. And tartare sauce that was probably out of jar.
Desserts kept up the decent standard. A salty caramel cheesecake did everything you’d expect by way of a rich dessert. Apple and rhubarb pie was in lovely crisp pastry with the tartness of the fruit softened by a good sprinkling of sugar and clotted cream.
No, Number 4 is not going to set the food world alight. Not even the South Manchester food world. But it’s enjoyable food. And it must disappoint them that, on a Friday lunchtime, ours was the only table occupied.