Albert’s Shed opened in 2004 and is still going strong. Neighbour and sister-business Dukes 92 might be the one you head to in Castlefield when the sun’s out and you’re in need of an ice cold beer or quick bite, but when you want something a little special this is the one we’d choose.
Famously named after Uncle Albert and his shed of tools, the family run business focuses on British classics with some influences from further afield, particularly Italy. Situated next to the Rochdale Canal and under the railway arches, the location is perfect for people watching and taking in a bit of industrial Manchester’s history.
The sheltered outside area isn’t as open and might not offer the suntrap that is Dukes, but given the Manchester climate and its tendency to rain, this is far more agreeable when you want to dine outside. Comfy seating and heaters mean you aren’t making a mad dash every time the heavens open. We’ll take the cover thanks.
Inside is equally inviting and slick. We appreciate the fresh linen and easy soundtrack. It feels grown-up. And although it’s vast with plenty of seating, the tables aren’t squashed together so there’s still that feeling of your own space with privacy when needed. It covers all bases and caters to any size of party which can be hard to accommodate so effectively under the one roof.
Lunchtimes can be a bit hit and miss with many restaurants, frequently changing two- and three-course offers so you aren’t quite sure what you’re getting and the dishes are often a work in progress. This lot have managed to perfect their offer with a seasonal lunch menu available at all their sites (Castlefield, Didsbury and Worsley) with tried and tested recipes they know their customers love.
Although they are due for a change as we move into spring, there’s still a few weeks to give the winter lunch dishes a try. At only £11.95 for two courses that’s reason enough. Still need persuading? Take a look at this lot we ate last week for lunch.
For starters we tucked into smoked Peterhead mackerel pate with sourdough crisps and beetroot chutney. The pate was light and fresh and decidedly tasty.
Rabbit gnocchi showcased their Italian influences with beautifully cooked golden gnocchi, the rabbit earthy, all enveloped in the creamiest white wine sauce with pancetta and mushrooms. This one will be coming off the menu in spring and we can’t urge you enough to give it a try whilst you still can it’s that good.
Two main courses impressed us. The baby scallop risotto was a refreshing dish of pine nut pesto risotto with pan-fried queen scallops and buttered tender stem broccoli.
Steak frites consisted of a tender 5oz rump steak cooked perfectly medium-rare as requested, with herb salted thin cut chips and peppercorn sauce. A real classic.
We had to order a dessert to share as we couldn’t quite manage one each after the generous starters and mains. Chocolate volcano (£6) was a shiny warm chocolate pudding with a gooey chocolate fondant centre served with honeycomb ice-cream. An all-round pleaser.
Service is friendly and professional but not too formal. We didn’t want to drink a heavy red wine at lunchtime so our server suggested the no-nonsense La Lotte Chablis (£31 bottle), a great choice that could handle our different choices – rich and buttery but also crisp, fresh and dry.
It’s easy to see why Albert’s Shed works so well. It’s easy. It’s accessible. It’s good. You could take your boss, the whole office, a first date, or your mum here (but not all at the same time). It manages to cater to them all and we can’t think of many places that do it this well. And lunch is such amazing value that it’s worth walking the extra mile (or few minutes, come on this is Manchester not London) if you aren’t quite local and the sun’s not out. Just remember. Don’t worry, they’ve got it covered.
18-20 Castle St, Castlefield, Manchester M3 4LZ