Have you ever read a restaurant review and disagreed with it? Or been to a restaurant and had a completely different experience from your companion? She Says, He Says brings you two reviewers for the price of one. How’s that for great value? She is a bit of a foodie. He just likes his food. They share the same dishes and make their own notes – and strictly no conferring.
As Bangers and Bacon, James and Heather Taylor and Richard Brown were one of six street food vendors to be shortlisted for Allied London’s street food project, The Kitchens, back in 2014. They fought off the competition and were named winners.
The prize was a permanent unit on the site in Spinningfields, subsidised rent for a year and the business support often lacking when independents first go it alone.
Finally launching last month, Beastro Manchester is a development of the Bangers and Bacon brand, offering menus from breakfast to lunch, right through to dinner. The emphasis is still very much on meat, which is understandable as the Taylors are third generation butchers.
Locally sourced ingredients are at the forefront of the brand. Having worked their way up from farmer’s markets to street food traders to a permanent unit at Spinningfields, Richard, James and Heather have forged relationships with local suppliers like Bobby’s Bangers, the Manchester Veg People and Winter Tarn Dairy.
The space is light and airy, seating over forty covers, and there’s even a chef’s table next to the open kitchen. The tables are a little on the small side but not too close together. The finish is soft, functional and tasteful with some rather nice touches like their very own imperfectly wonky plates made especially for them by Salford Fire Station Potters.
Manchester Egg with home made brown sauce (£4)
She says: This is one of those plates you would go back for again and again. A really meaty, tasty and generous snack, especially at the pricepoint. It’s not featured on the lunch menu, but is listed under Pots & Plates on their evening offer. Here is where I think they are missing a trick as these little dishes are ones I’m sure would prove popular throughout the day.
He says: Robert Owen Brown’s legendary creation is alive and well and living at Beastro. Sausage meat + seasoning + egg + black pudding + home made brown sauce = OMG.
Super Green Soup with artisan bread (£4)
She says: A very thick and healthy soup made from spinach, pea and asparagus. Really fresh and bright green in colour. Lovely. What especially worked was the gorgeous bread with which it was served, supplied by Bread Factory. It’s nice to see they’ve really thought about both veggies and vegans considering their background, and that the offers aren’t an afterthought as in many establishments.
He says: Healthy and tasty. What more could you ask for?
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with rocket, tomato and mayo (£5)
She says: I’m not a fan of sandwiches but this one was good. I preferred the bread they served with the soup, but what I can’t get over was the quality of both the chicken and the bacon in there. Again, you won’t find much on the market as good quality for the price.
He says: Excellent value for a sandwich made from nice bread and quality ingredients which was more than enough for two people. Why pay more for an inferior product made from inferior ingredients at a high street chain?
Vegan Moroccan Curry and Rice (£5)
She says: Another well executed vegan dish. The nutty rice was cooked perfectly, and the curry itself generously had all the right Moroccan spices, not too hot, but full of depth and flavour. I didn’t miss the meat at all here.
He says: I’ve nothing against vegan food. And some of my best friends are vegan. But this was not my cup of tea. Or curry.
Fillet Steak and Chips (£17)
She says: A fillet steak at this price is amazing. It was cooked rare, and had bags of flavour. I was, however, disappointed with the triple-cooked beef dripping chips. They were overly oily, and I would have expected better.
He says: Loved it. Why pay upwards of 50% more for a melt in the mouth fillet steak of this quality and triple-cooked chips at one of the fancier places in town? Came with a lovely green herby sauce, a bit pesto-ey with parsley but don’t quote me on that.
Lemon Posset with meringue, white chocolate and lemon essence (£4.50)
She says: This is where I think improvement is needed. Although the posset was ok, it lacked the finesse, technique, and smooth creamy finish you’d find in a good one. It was also too sweet. Desserts can be one of the hardest thing to get right, with many top chefs having years of training until they perfect their formula. Maybe they should stick with more homely baking that might actually sit better with their restaurant?
He says: Lovely sweet hit at the end of the meal. Spot on (apart from the white chocolate which I’m not a fan of).
We drank some rather good house wines with our lunch. A South African Flagstone Noon Gun white (£5 175ml/ £6.30 250ml/ £18.50 Bottle) made up of chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, and a viognier blend.
The standout was The Guv’nor, a Spanish red, a wonderful blend of grenache and tempranillo grapes (£4.70 175ml/ £6.50 250ml/ £18.50 bottle) which was the easiest drinker. We’d have happily finished the bottle if we weren’t heading back to the office.
Richard looked after us attentively and their passion for their first restaurant is evident in everything they do. The food is excellent value and the quality of the ingredients shines through.
It’s early doors for Beastro. They are still very much in the early days of development, but with three different menus, are they trying to be everything to everybody? Could a breakfast menu plus one main menu where you can enjoy any of the dishes any time of day be a better way to go?
We’re keen to re-visit and see how this dedicated team develop their brand.