When it comes to eating out I’m a bit of a city centre girl. Anything outside the city centre – and sometimes even in the city centre – and I need a satnav. So luckily for me, getting to Whitefield is a doddle. The trip from town takes about fifteen minutes on the Metrolink with trams runing every twelve minutes.
From Whitefield tram station it’s just a short walk. One 88 is directly opposite north Manchester foodie favourite, Slattery’s. Even I couldn’t go wrong.
The building looks a bit like someone’s house, albeit with signage and al fresco seating area to the front. It reminds me a bit of the old Aumbry in Prestwich but with less charm and quirkiness. The interior is simple and fresh – nothing more, nothing less – with over 70 covers amply spaced out over two floors.
The offer is modern British, product focused with just one menu for the food and drinks – which is good – offering brunch, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
Chef patron David Gale is a former Hilton chef who has worked his way from Wythenshawe to Whitefield via London, San Francisco and New York with stints at the 3 Michelin star Chez Nico, 5th Floor at Harvey Nichols in London, Clift Hotel, Soho House, The Hudson and Abode. Quite a CV.
One 88 is his first self-funded restaurant, opened with best friend Lee Richardson earlier this year. A brave move, some might say. Actually very clever, given that the lower rent means a far more accessible, lower-priced menu. And on our visit the space is packed with Whitefield’s ladies who lunch here in full force.
The menu is due for a change with summer on the way. Let’s hope the style of food and the quality of the product continues in the same vein because there are just so many dishes on here we want to try. So much so, that the two of us went for three starters. Greedy? No, just common sense.
Crispy organic chicken (£7.50) with pickled pumpkin and lentil dressing is such an ample portion size for a starter. This is one of those really homely dishes, made posh. The chicken is cooked wonderfully, with the crispest skin, and although the description says lentil dressing, you actually get a healthy portion of lovely lentils under there. It’s very good.
Potted ham and hot mustard (£7.50) with toasted sourdough may sound safe but it’s not. The mustard is a real mind-blowing English affair, the ham a chunky terrine – like the middle of the best pork pie you’ve ever eaten – served with sourdough crunchy melba toast and some rather fine and tangy pickles. I might not have ordered this if not for my companion. So glad we did.
Our third starter of prawn and lobster cocktail (£7.95) with cucumber on melba toast maintained the standard of the other two. A very refreshing plate, gorgeously green with fresh baby gem, meaty prawns, and the whole thing going up a notch with some beautifully decadent lobster.
For mains, we just stuck to two. Roast sustainable cod fillet (£15.95) with clams, peas and bacon came sans clams I’m sure, unless they were hidden in the sauce somewhere. The cod was chunky and well cooked, and went well with the fresh peas and bacon. My side of broccoli with toasted hazelnuts also contained no hazelnuts. They’ve lost half a point for these two omissions, although this is pretty much my only criticism of the entire lunch.
Now comes one of the stars of the show today. Roast rump of lamb (£15.95) with parsnip, kale and garlic potatoes was simply the best lamb either of us have eaten. Recommended by David Gale himself, and supplied by award-winning butchers Mettrick’s in Glossop, the meat was melt-in-the-mouth, with an almost gamey flavour. If you think lamb is normally tasty, you’ve got to try it here. Fantastic.
We had a lovely bottle of Louis Latour Mercurey Rouge (£33.50) with lunch. Not too heavy, this earthy red pinot noir is great with food. Wild berries, smooth tannins, and elegant. It went especially well with the lamb.
Our first dessert of dark chocolate mousse (£5.50) with maple glazed banana and salted cashew nut caramel came without the banana – at my request this time – as I can’t bear them with dessert, but love a good mousse. Which this was. Although it paled somewhat next to our second beauty – warm Eccles cake (£5.50) with clotted cream and strawberries.
We loved these and luckily there were two of them. I don’t even normally like the damn things that much, but these were on another level. Warm, buttery, so moreish with the clotted cream, although they could afford to lose the strawberries as they weren’t needed on the plate. I swear I want to go back for these alone.
This was a real treat of a lunch. I can’t rate the place highly enough and I can’t recommend you go more. Yes, the space could be a bit more exciting, but who cares with food this good? And at a decent price too. If I lived in Whitefield this would easily be my local. In fact, I’m tempted to start looking as I could do with a bigger house and now I know how to get there.