Over the past three months we’ve been out and about looking for the best Sunday roasts in Manchester. We know there are some worthy contenders in the suburbs but we restricted our search to the city centre, otherwise we’d have been tasting all year.
Traditionally consisting of roast beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, lots of veggies and gravy, not much has changed with this winning formula since way back when families would leave their cut of beef in the oven before going to church of a Sunday morning so it would be ready to eat when they arrived home for lunch.
Our scoring system is based on food, comfort, service and value. Where overall scores are the same, we have given priority for the mark for food. Where the scores for the roasts are the same, we have judged on the overall meal including starters and desserts.
So without further ado, we present in true Top of the Pops countdown-style our Top 10 Sunday roasts.
Hydes Brewery opened this gem of a pub in The Northern Quarter a couple of years back, named after a former mayor of Manchester who was instrumental in overseeing the construction of the Town Hall and after whom the clock bell is named. Apparently he was no ordinary man, and this is no ordinary pub (or so it says on the front of the menu), so was it an ordinary roast?
Far from it. The beef was a decent sirloin and cooked medium rare as stated. Yorkshire pudding was light and crisp, plus the carrots and parsnips were rather finely roasted and buttery. There were a couple of things that let the plate down on our visit, the roasties tasted fine but there was no crisping on the outside or fluffy middle. Also the cauliflower and broccoli could have done with some nice cheese. But overall a good effort in a warm traditional pub.
Priced Individually £14.95
Evelyn’s Café & Bar
Another Northern Quarter contender, Evelyn’s Café & Bar is set in the gorgeous Smithfields building. What used to be Superstore has been subtly transformed. The original features of the bricked warehouse are still on show, with the addition of lots of fresh, beautifully maintained and gloriously green foliage. The effect is a light and refreshing space that is both relaxed and vibrant.
Their sirloin of beef was served just pink which is a good middle ground all round. The meat was juicy and tender without being chewy at all. It came with a great big Yorkshire pudding, and loads of well cooked vegetables, easily taking me over my five a day. A rich, sticky and stocky gravy although not enough of it on the plate so we had to ask for more. And we would have liked stuffing or cauliflower cheese on the plate to add a little naughtiness. A cracking roast, with large portions meaning we needed a nap when we got home. Just how a Sunday should be.
Priced Individually £16
Neighbourhood has had a makeover. Never a shrinking violet, the already indulgent glitzy interior has been opened out and made even more glamorous capturing a club lounge feel. The new pink neon sign hovering above the bar says ‘Best View of Heaven is from Hell.’ Wonder how they know? It is trying to be all things to all people – bar, restaurant and club all rolled into one. The food and drink has never been short of sophistication.
The roast sirloin of beef looked impressive, was tender and juicy and cooked pink to perfection but four very large thick slices was a bit too much cow on the plate for even the most devoted carnivore. There were a couple of schoolboy errors – the Yorkshire pudding was a bit thin and hollow and the roasties slightly anaemic. But the veg and gravy were fantastic, and the mashed potato possibly the best in Manchester? If we had been judging on the cocktails and starters, Neighbourhood would have been higher up our chart as these were top notch!
Priced Individually £15.95
Hawksmoor seems to have hit the right note since opening in Manchester last year. Set in the impressive Grade II listed Courthouse building on Deansgate, Hawksmoor is inspired by the building’s late Victorian heritage. The place oozes grandeur with an old gents spin, and service is some of the best in the city. Their mission is to serve the best beef and cocktails – which is pretty much what they do.
The Sunday roast is slow-roast rump with all the trimmings. The beef is aged 55 days in a climate-controlled room on a farm built especially for Hawksmoor. And it is amazing, so tender and soft with the ageing process increasing the sweet, brothy taste. The melting buttery carrots were the best vegetables throughout the competition, and the Yorkshire pudding was golden and light as air. But there is a but. Our roast potatoes weren’t fully cooked through on our visit. Shame. Still, this is a beautiful restaurant and always delivers an unforgettable experience. This is reflected in the prices, but for those special occasions you can’t go wrong here!
Priced Individually £20
The newly refurbished Dukes 92 boasts what is without doubt Manchester’s busiest beer garden with little needed to improve this side of the operation apart from sunshine – not always guaranteed in Manchester. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the interior has been transformed with a cool £1m investment. The bar itself has been extended resulting in over 50 feet of counter area – meaning less queuing and faster service. And the space has been stripped back to feature more exposed brick reflecting its industrial heritage.
The roast rump of beef was sliced quite thickly but served pink and juicy. The roast potatoes were crisp we are pleased to say as we struggled with this one element more than any other in the competition. And with a nice fresh Yorkie, creamy mash, maple glazed parsnips and French beans, and lots of gravy, this is a very strong all-rounder. Good pub grub and fantastic value here.
Priced Individually £12.50
Sam’s Chop House
Sam’s Chop House is a thoroughly British boozer. Established in 1872 by local businessman Samuel Studd, it’s traditional, cosy, with heritage lovingly preserved. Its patrons have included some of Manchester’s finest including artist LS Lowry who can still be found sat at the end of the bar, immortalised in bronze. They have one of the best wine lists we’ve ever seen in a pub, let alone a restaurant, and their food is best of British.
The roast rump of beef is from Dukesmoor and aged for 28 days. Although the colour looked fantastic it was slightly over if you like your beef pink. It had bags of taste though. Tere was no fat and it was seasoned well. The rosemary roast potatoes were crunchy on the outside with the fluffiest middle and easily the best of the competition. Served with a huge golden Yorkie, beautifully sweet carrots and greens including a rather unusual baby gem we really liked, and robust gravy, this was a very British affair. Bravo.
Two Courses £19.95 / Three Courses £24.95
Grill On The Alley
This place has always felt like a ‘proper’ old school restaurant with a warm, contemporary and bustling restaurant vibe. It’s very much a restaurant with a bar, and not the other way round, as is common with many newer venues across the city. The staff are lovely and the venue a joy to dine in.
Their beef was pink and so tender, just as you would hope from a steakhouse. There was a huge Yorkshire pudding, a fresh and bright orange in colour mashed carrot/swede type combo, green and buttery cabbage and superb roasties with lots of beefy gravy. Nothing unexpected on the plate, but everything very well executed indeed. A really colourful roast and nice to look at too.
Priced Individually £12.95
Tariff & Dale
Tariff & Dale is the big white building set in this impressive former cotton warehouse on the corner of Tariff Street and Dale Street in The Northern Quarter. 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. This was the first time we’d eaten in the basement restaurant. We prefer upstairs as there is little natural light down there, but the space does come into its own in the evenings.
The rare roast topside of beef was superb. 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. The trimmings were as good with well cooked roasties and Yorkshire. You can tell we are in the top three, with creamy mash, vegetables al dente, and the cheesiest cauliflower cheese. Full marks for this roast, friendly staff and a good value three course menu.
Three Courses £22
Mr Cooper’s House & Garden by Simon Rogan
Mr Cooper’s House & Garden is named after Thomas Cooper whose renowned 19th century garden once occupied the same site. Our only slight criticism is the garden furniture which, although comfortable enough, hardly do their glorious setting justice. A small point we know, but we couldn’t find fault anywhere else.
The roast here has more of a fine dining edge so your plate isn’t overflowing with food and presentation is perfect. The roast topside of beef was the most succulent, juicy, fillet-like beef we ate over the entire competition. The roast potatoes were dripping with beefy flavour and again cooked perfectly. Bubble and squeak croquettes were a lovely light and fluffy extra on the plate, plus a champion Yorkshire pudding, colourful vegetables, with a sticky gravy they probably call a jus here. We can’t praise it enough.
The food and service were impeccable. Three courses cooked by Simon Rogan’s kitchen for £20 is beyond good value. The décor was the only area where this restaurant lost marks, knocking it off the top spot.
Three Courses £20
Under the railway arches on Whitworth Street is where you will find the well-oiled machine that is Gorilla. There are two floors of bustling bar and restaurant, with a further 700 capacity live venue/ club space at the back. Industrial meets American diner and it’s well maintained. The place is always bursting with customers with a cool mixed crowd streaming in throughout the day. We sat upstairs on our visit and got a real sense of being under the arches. The little booths are cosy and great for people watching. We loved it here.
Our jaws dropped when they placed the roast on our table. It was huge. An outstanding topside of beef, cooked two ways for two preferences. Pink and medium were both spot on. We ate the best Yorkshire pudding, crisp and light, and the beef dripping gravy it was soaked in made it the tastiest yet. Some great veg and very creamy buttery mash. You might be surprised that their potatoes weren’t the best. Although they tasted good there was no crunchy outside or fluffy inside. So how did Gorilla come top, we hear you ask?
Because when you go out to eat, you go for the whole package. Food, comfort, service and value. Gorilla only lost one point for the potatoes but everything else was perfect. The friendly and knowledgeable staff, the quality of their drinks, the amazing starters and desserts, and the fantastic music and vibe. It felt like one great party. And it was only one o’clock.
Priced Individually £13.50