Housed inside a former Edwardian dairy, Chorlton restaurant The Creameries focuses on creative menus that minimise waste and are defined as much by seasonal flavours as by chef patron Mary-Ellen McTague’s ethical and sustainable values.
It’s won over locals with its great value, accomplished dishes and zero-waste policy. And now, The Creameries has got a glowing review in The Observer, to boot.
Critic Jay Rayner starts his review at the end: with a treacle tart that tastes of “all the good things, including attention to detail and a determined eagerness to please”.
Light and fluffy in a thin and crisp case, it’s been made by someone who must have made a lot of them, notes Jay.
And indeed, Mary-Ellen McTague has. She made her name at the Aumbry in Prestwich before opening The Creameries in Chorlton in 2018.
She has experience working in Michelin starred kitchens, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, and was also involved in the Real Junk Food Project, which took food destined for landfill and transformed it into wholesome pay-as-you-feel meals.
The restaurant itself is big on hard surfaces, writes Jay: polished concrete floors, gunmetal-grey painted walls, softened by foliage from hanging baskets.
There are wooden tables and benches that, in busy times, you will have to share. The menus are on blackboards, for ease of changing quickly.
It’s the opposite of one of those flash outfits that does “the restaurant equivalent of kissing a bicep in the mirror,” writes Jay. The Creameries will never bang on about taking you “on a journey.” Mary-Ellen doesn’t want to take you anywhere “except to your happy place.”
Jay is especially impressed by the “vast amounts” of technique evident in the dishes: a soft, savoury purée of split peas; salty matchstick-thin crisps; savoury mushroom ketchup.
And, of course, bread and butter – something which also turned our heads when we visited: “the best of sourdoughs”, writes Jay, served with nutty brown butter and a butter churned up with a sauerkraut liquor.
The critic is impressed by two meaty pieces of their own lightly smoked mackerel, seared and served with a purée of pickled beetroot and a mustard cream, and a thick cauliflower soup swirled through with a Killeen cheese sauce.
Meat makes rare appearances on The Creameries menus, but Jay enjoys the game pie with pheasant and partridge as well as seared cabbage with long-cooked split peas.
As well as the “joyous” treacle tart, Jay is intrigued by the wine list. And he also praises the price: the two of them are presented with a “ludicrous” bill for a three-course lunch of just £46, he says.
He commends the commitment to sustainability (“we are in Chorlton,” he notes, where these things are “taken seriously”).
But what you really need to know, he writes, is this: you get all that, as well as “seriously good, thoughtful food from someone who knows exactly what they’re doing.”
You can’t ask for more than that.
And while he was in Manchester, Jay also checked out newcomer Bistrotheque at Cultureplex, which he says is proving to be a thoroughly reliable late-night dinner option.
The critic enjoyed “very good” duck rillettes followed by cod with chilli, garlic and sage, as well as our recent favourite – a Swaledale rump steak with café de Paris butter.
Well played, Manchester.