We’d been to the launch of Annies and seen the menu as well as wolfed down a few superb canapés so Ginger and I were really excited to go and dine properly in the new eatery launched last week by Coronation Street redhead Jennie McAlpine.
“…the restaurant is actually downstairs, probably putting some punters off because you don’t know how busy or what the vibe is.”
The thinking behind Annies is that it will be a destination restaurant, similar to the Ivy – one of my all time favourite restaurants – with a homely, comfortable atmosphere and simply great food, that’s not over-priced.
And I have to say it really works, in fact it was so good it actually converted me into a black pudding fan, something I never thought I would put in my mouth.
When you enter or walk past Annies, there is a comfortable ‘lounge’ area on street level, last week Jennie told us she wanted to be like ‘your nan’s front room’ and the restaurant is actually downstairs, probably putting some punters off because you don’t know how busy or what the vibe is. Atmosphere being a key ingredient, certainly for me on where I choose to eat.
But don’t be deterred, because when you reach the basement restaurant area, there’s a cosy bar where you can snack and drink and a comfy restaurant bit. Like the Ivy, it’s designed so there’s no bling to distract from the real purpose, which is to eat fab food and have a good time.
It’s probably best to book as I can see this becoming very popular but if you want to take a gander, you can also do lunch or afternoon tea and pop in on the off chance. They also do Sunday roasts from £12.95.
The Ginger and I were met by Jennie and her dad Tom (not always on site) who go out of their way to make you feel welcome as do the rest of the team.
Annies isn’t named after the musical but St Anne’s Square (it’s just off the square opposite Sandinistas), but it’s hard not to burst into renditions of ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’ as the Ginger count was very high – and I have to come out of the closet as a redhead in my youth until magically my hair turned platinum.
For first course Ginger opted for the Bury Black Pudding Spring Rolls – yes that’s right, spring rolls with black pudding. This is something I would never normally go near but the Ginger was raving so much about it, I had to have a try and then ended up battling him for most of his starter.
It was fantastic, with melt in the mouth batter and the actual black pudding was spicy and fiery, superb and do try this, if like me you’re a bit of black pudding virgin because you don’t like the sound of what it is. The ‘Bury’ black pudding is (believe it or not) from Bury where they allegedly do the BEST, legendary black pudding and where Jennie is from.
My actual starter (the menu simply calls it ‘First Course’ which start from £4.75) was Morcambe Bay Brown Shrimp Mousse, and obviously you can tell what chef Richard Moore, is doing here – using the finest local ingredients to create superb tastes, that you are not going to find on any other menu.
It wasn’t as good as the black pudding, but then that was the star of the show, it was gorgeously creamy, light and very prawny.
Then it was onto the second course – again starting from a really reasonable £10.50, especially given the quality.
There is a pie menu and the Ginger opted for the Three Cheese And Onion Pie, which had a mash crust. He was positively grinning with delight, like a Cheddar cat and actually let out a yelp when he came across goats cheese at the heart of this dish.
I had the Annies Hot Pot – and obviously this is the dish that’s been getting most of the press because of the famous Betty’s hot pot in Corrie.
This came with a side of red cabbage, again something I have never been really into, but again I was converted.
It is a great hearty dish, perfect for this time of year and shines in the reflected glory of its screen counterpart.
It was onto to desserts and one of us had to try the Manchester Tart. This came slightly deconstructed, rather like Bet Lynch after a night out, with jam under the actual tart rather than inside. It was a lovely mixture of jam, pastry and banana.
The Ginger had apple crumble, which again was perfect comfort food as the temperatures have plummeted. Ginger’s Nanna actually used to bake apple pie & crumble so his verdict is special.
On the I Love’o’meter
This is definitely one to marry and I am going to go back to try the Sunday roasts in the very near future.
“See you at Annies.”
5 Old Bank Street (street links between Cross Street and St Ann’s Sq), Manchester M2 7PS
0161 839 4423