Battle of the Sunday roasts: Tariff & Dale bar and kitchen with a touch of Frosty

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Tariff & Dale is the big white building set in this impressive former cotton warehouse on the corner of Tariff Street and Dale Street. Brick and bare wood are an honest backdrop for lovingly restored industrial features, with soft leather and bare yellow bulbs creating a tactile and warm space. General manager Nikki Beckly is still firmly in place. Always a good sign when staff are still around more than a year into opening.  It’s the first time I’ve visited since the arrival of new head chef Stuart Valentine, so I’m curious to see his influence on the menu.

I see little change in its simple presentation – a sheet of white A4, allowing for frequent changes with dishes listed more like a list of ingredients than lengthy descriptions. It’s simple but effective, emphasising good honest produce. The menu itself consists of boards to share, sourdough pizzas, and specials, with a separate Sunday fixed price menu (£22 per person for three courses.)

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It’s the first time I have eaten in the restaurant in the basement. I have to say I prefer upstairs for our lunchtime visit as there is little natural light down here and a bit less atmosphere. I have no doubt the space comes into its own in the evenings.

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Starters are hit and miss. The Roast Tomato Soup with croutons looks beautiful in its wonky oval bowl but appearances can be deceptive. There is not enough ripe tomato sweetness, it’s a little tart and watery, and desperately missing cream.

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The Squid Thai Salad with glass noodles and Nam Jim dressing is much better. A lovely zingy and light salad, with well battered squid and heaps of Thai flavour, perfect before a big roast. And very tasty with a glass of Abadia Meria Verdejo (£4.40 175ml), a rather fresh and aromatic little number.

Now we come to Frosty’s Rare Roast Topside of Beef. It was that shiny it glistened. A really fine looking piece of meat which tasted as good as it looked, served wonderfully pink and tender. The slices were big and thick but you hardly noticed as they melted and slid down with ease. No big chewing action needed here. But would the trimmings let it down? I’m pleased to say the answer is no.  All the veg was good and didn’t take away from the star of the show. Well cooked roasties and Yorkshire, creamy mash, meaty gravy with extra on the side, and with the addition of the cheesiest cauliflower cheese. I can happily say it scores full marks – only the second place to do so.

I wasn’t as keen on my choice of red though – a Chilean Montevista Carmenere (£5.60 175ml). A little too smoky, I think it would have worked better with something spicy maybe.

Desserts were OK. But if you are going to only list a few words then they need to be more accurate. Dark Chocolate Mousse with Pear and Blackcurrant sounded right up my street but it arrived with big chunks of brownie on it and I thought they had brought me the wrong dish.

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I’m not a fan of brownies and would never have ordered it had it been written on the menu.  I had ordered the mousse as I wanted something light to finish off with after that huge roast, and it was just too heavy and rich. Blackcurrant Syllabub was Chantilly cream, blackcurrant and toasted almonds – exactly as stated on the tin – but it was a little too sweet and felt like it was missing one component to bring it to life. Not bad though.

Tariff & Dale benefit from the scoring system because the food score is only based on the Sunday roast dinner. And I couldn’t fault that. Service was lovely and low key and the drinks were good. I just hope that next time I go for Frosty’s topside the starters and desserts are as good as the mains.

 

www.tariffanddale.com

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