Located on a back street in the area of Salford known as Walkden, Grenache is a small place with a lot of attitude - they recently won The Good Food Guide's Best North West Restaurant and have a new chef at the helm who's got some big ideas. Couple this with the big personality of the owner and a friendly front of house team you know it's not just the Good Food guide that's going to be throwing accolades their way.
Grenache - small and surprising thanks to Phil Taylor Photos
As I was dining on my own (sob sob) I asked the kitchen to send me our their favourite dishes - I was keen to see what their new chef, Mike Jennings, had been concocting. First out was a light as air smoked haddock ball – full of fish, slightly smoky and matched brilliantly with a mustardy piccalilli on the side (a smooth piccalilli, controversial, but much better for dipping).
Big salty ball
Then the biggest scallops I have ever seen – placed on a bed of avocado, radish and fennel; I was a little sceptical of the match, but the chef has obviously thought this through a great deal as it was served with a bloody mary jelly that brought the whole dish together - cutting down but also being calmed down by the avocado and scallop, with a crunchy freshness from the radish and fennel. Could have done with a little less tabasco as I began to loose the sweetness of the scallop, but still an inspired dish.
Another dish that surprised was the mackerel with goats cheese – I’m one of those old fashioned people who doesn’t like to pair fish and cheese, but again each constituent part of the dish played out in harmony. The lightly baked fish was cut through by the slight sharpness of the cheese and mandarin – the wafer thin beetroot provided an earthy undernote, but the whole dish was kept light and fresh; delicious on a humid evening.
Next out was the softest, most succulent and massive piece of lamb I’ve eaten in a long time. The spice crust wasn't over powering, just warm and smoky playing into the subtle sweetness of the lamb and adding a delightful crunch to a dish that could otherwise be over soft. Ensuring there was a lightness about the lamb and lentils, a salad of carrot and creme fraishe was a welcome addition to the plate rather than a boring garnish as you find in many places.
Smoky, sweet lamb and lentils
Having ensured after all that food I had room left for pudding (I’m a girl, we have another stomach for puddings. Fact.) I was then surprised with a pudding amuse bouche – a light little brownie with divine candied orange peel. And then the main event; I was talked in to the panna cotta because it was lavender – I hate panna cotta, but this was edible in a big way. The merest hint of lavender combined with the floral notes in the sweet slivers of strawberries, the berries adding a slight tartness that the dish needed to stop it becoming over-powering.
Perfectly perfumed panna cotta
Grenache really is a super surprise – given the décor is a little Homebase and the music needs an overhaul, but for food and service you can't fault it. A few little tweaks here are there and this will definitely be an award winning destination.
Ps try the homemade focaccia - the best I've had in Manchester.
Price for all the above food – £35.65
Food – 9/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10 (one knocked off for the awful music)
Value for money – 10/10 (the portions are VERY healthy and you get two amuse bouche AND homemade bread)
Total – 36/40
Go back? Yes definitely – I want to see Mike grows as a chef and how the food develops, plus I had a bloody good time so will be back!
Please note the restaurant knew I was there and my meal was free, however I am under no obligation to write nice things and all views are my own.
Grenache, 15 Bridgewater Road, Walkden, Salford M28 3JE - 0161 799 8181 - Twitter