You, like me, have probably heard a lot about Damson, the Heaton Moor restaurant that’s won a fistful of accolades and has now also opened in Media City (or Salford as we used to know it).
“Damson gave us a warm welcome with its muted plum tones and understated elegance…”
And so it was with great expectations that Ginger, Dubai and I braved a very windy night, straight from the other recent pillar of sophistication brought to TV-land, the fabulous On the Seventh private members’ club.
We’d been there for Brazen PR’s ‘Winedays’ networking do which was great fun and we exited with brimming goody bags that included a tin of Ronseal – “what do we do with that” queried Dubai. We do exactly what it says on the tin, was the chorus of replies.
Giddy with our wit and in high spirits, Damson gave us a warm welcome with its muted plum tones and understated elegance and a view that makes the Salford skyline look good.
We were trying the pre-theatre menu which changes on a weekly basis and is very reasonably priced with starters and puds from under £4 upwards and mains starting from under £8.
The friendly-staff had been manic the night before with pre-match fans (is it still too early to mention Madrid?) and you can see this is a great venue for match day posh nosh or indeed the Lowry Theatre (does anyone else feel sea-sick when the go to the Lowry theatre, it’s the weird sloping corridor that does it I think).
I’ll get straight to the point. This was good food, good value for money and in a great setting but it wasn’t WOW.
But is that their fault? Because I and the boys were expecting to have our socks blown off. Should we have gone for the full monty a la carte to get a better feel for the cooking. I don’t know, but we all felt a little let down – like you do when you get the Shepherd part in the nativity.
I had the parfait which was mixed with foie gras (one of my pet likes), but to be honest the honeysuckle slither of foie gras didn’t come through, although it was a good parfait, on a par with those at Annies and Dubai’s monster portion in The Wharf (parfait that is).
Ginger had the velveteen or very posh mushroom soup to you and me. This was a smooth, delicious spoonful that was indeed like velvet as it trickled down your throat with a satisfactory warmth. An excellent dish.
Dubai, seemed to get the duds of this meal. He ordered the hake starter and to steal from Dickens again, thought it was nice (is there a more damning phrase) but very very small, he wanted ‘more’.
My hake main came in a subtle, Thai influenced broth, that had a huge chunk of good meaty fish and aromatic sauce that gave a glorious kick after swallowing. It was good, but sorry to be sacrilegious, probably on a par with dishes I have eaten and adored in Wagamama.
Dubai, had the gnocchi, which again he wasn’t wild about and it was deep-fried, which seemed a little strange. In fact he thought it was a bit like scampi, the kind of scampi that doesn’t actually have any fish in it.
Ginger struck gold with his pork belly that he described as full of flavour and said filled him up beautifully, however lacked a bit of colour or excitement.
Onto puds and this is where the boys were quite damning, pronouncing as something they could have got from Tesco. Ouch. They look decent, though.
My cheese, which they do like they do in France, was brought to the table for me to select and was delicious, but again the portions were tiny. My two bits of cheese were the size of lumps I usually down while I’m cooking.
I remember when I worked with Paul Heathcote he said the difference between North and South had a lot to do with portions and he always made sure he served bigger portions ‘Up North’.
I will go back to Damsons (I often work in Media City so it’s good to have on the doorstep but would go back anyway), but next time I’m going a la carte.
The following night we went to Grenache in Walkden, with no real expectations and that, our dear readers, was the sock blower.
On The I Love’o’meter
I wanted so much for this to be love at first sight, but on this outing the spark was missing.
Damson MediaCityUK, Orange Building, MediaCityUK, Salford M50 2HF
(Located above Prezzo at the Central Piazza)
0161 751 7020