We’d had Grenache on our “to do” list for a while and were interested to see it pick up the “Manchester” award in the Hi-Life Diners Club awards the other week. However, once inside the restaurant, I found myself getting peeved quite quickly. Nothing about the place. Nothing about the food. It was the owner. He’s just one of those blokes who irritate me just by existing. But he got off to a really bad start with me. In the middle of taking our order, his mobile phone went off. Did he ignore it? Nope, he checked it and answered. “Hello, Mum” ....and picked up the menus and walked off to have his chat, leaving us with wine unordered. Now the situation was rescued by his excellent young waitress who must have realised what had happened and swiftly came over to take the order. In due course, he came back to apologise saying Mum was more important than customers. Yes, he really meant that as an apology.
Now I’ve got that off my chest, let’s talk about the place. Decoration and furniture is very modern – there’s a few quid been spent here. They style themselves as “decadent dining” – for sure that’s the owner’s take on his menu which, in reality, has nothing of the decadent about it. But it’s a well constructed Modern Brit bistro affair offering a fixed price three course menu at a bargain £16.95 (although a couple of dishes will add a few quid supplement) or a more extensive, but well-priced, carte.
My partner went for the fixed price but choosing both the dishes with the supplement. A starter of accurately cooked scallops sat on little discs of black pudding. There was a little sharp apple puree and a smoked cheddar cream (the latter just bland and white). She followed this with a sirloin steak, red wine and pancetta jus, chips and some perfectly cooked cabbage. Pretty standard bistro food and none the worse for that.
Meanwhile I’d started with a smoked haddock risotto, topped with a poached egg. Good concept, except for the risotto being a bit too claggy in the way it often is in Britain. But it tasted good. I followed that with pork fillet, simply pan-fried, a fairly rich fondant potato (I’d have happily eaten another), some just wilted spinach and a few blobs of an overly sweet berry sauce.
Grenache doesn’t offer half bottles of wine but does have a good selection of above average offerings by the glass, including a champagne.
It’s the sort of food a reasonably competent home cook could handle but, some nights, I’m happy to let someone else do that cooking. They’re certainly getting things right with their customer base – place was busy.