Three years ago Chef David Mooney (pictured above) and restaurateur Paul Newman began their New Moon Pub Co brand by renovating ‘The Lord Binning' in Kelsall, Cheshire. Their simple aim was to breath life back into an old village pub making it a welcoming hub for the local community, whilst serving great food people wanted to eat, using locally sourced ingredients.
It’s going well, the formula works, but the plan was always to open in Manchester.
When David went up to receive his ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Industry’ award at last year’s ‘Chester Food, Drink and Lifestyle' Awards, they introduced him by saying that if you cut him in half he'd have Cheshire running through his centre, but that’s not actually true. Although he has lived and worked in Cheshire for decades and uses a lot of local Cheshire produce on his menus, he’s a Manc through and through, so this opening on home turf means a lot to him.
I don’t want to go into details (because I don’t know them) but I suspect watching his former business partner Tim Bacon hoover up the Manchester restaurant scene recently is also providing plenty of motivation for Paul Newman to succeed in the city centre.
Paul is one of those people who really understands how to work social media and you’ll find him all over various virtual platforms. He’s even created an app so people can access discounts and special offers for all New Moon Co pubs via their smartphone.
So here it is, Manchester’s Beef & Pudding, officially open to the public on Friday 4th April after a week-long soft launch. Again they’ve chosen a previously unloved, sticky carpeted pub ‘The Crown’, and injected a bit of New Moon Co love into it. A total refurb has given this perfectly situated but neglected pub an urban edge softened by a lot of wood and that fashionable ‘all things to all people’ seating including banquettes, regular tables and high bar stools.
My day job with Taste Cheshire is to promote local producers and Cheshire’s better dining establishments and David Mooney is a fellow champion. So I’m overjoyed to see he’s included a lot of the good stuff on the Manchester menu; water from Peckforton Hills, Tatton Brewery ale, bread and desserts from Williamson’s of Castle bakery, Hunter’s Gin and locally sourced meat.
The menu is Cheshire first, Northern second, and Best of British third.
The Beef & Pudding kitchen is headed by Nic Duncan who previously lead the team that won the Observer Food Magazine’s best Sunday lunch at The Parlour in Chorlton.
Cocktails are a big feature here, as is the carefully chosen wine list and Tattinger Champagne, so they’re aiming to attract city centre drinkers as much as diners with a decent appetite.
To start, I chose Dublin Bay Prawn Thermidore with organic spinach and garlic toast £9.95 - 5 juicy prawns bound in a light mornay sauce which reflects David’s classical culinary influences (Raymond Blanc, Marco PW) The whole thing is covered with scorched Gruyère and served in a scallop shell.
'Nearly A Pig's Ear!' £7.25 features an earthy round of Lancashire black pudding, pig cheek, and a curry scented lentil and Tatton ale gravy - a proper iron-rich stomach liner.
Although mainly what you’d describe as ‘hearty’, the menu also features a range of sharing planks (made for New Moon Co by Cheshire’s brilliant Bark and Burr) as well as salads, pasta dishes and steaks.
For my main, I chose Poussin Curry £13.95. It’s not really on to judge a new menu practised at a soft launch but it’s likely someone in the kitchen got the hair dryer treatment from Nic once I told her about my poussin’s ‘supermodel’ proportions - all legs no breasts. I’d also ordered a side of vinegared black peas which worked as perfectly as pulses do with curry.
My husband used to work for the architect that designed Manchester’s Beetham Tower and remembers it when it was just a rough sketch on the back of a beer mat so he had to choose the namesake burger.
In a town becoming saturated with burgers ‘you’ve never seen before’, ‘The Beef’Ham Tower Burger” £15.95 is doing its best to hold its own. From the ground floor upwards it’s a house made burger, sweet chilli brisket, horseradish, suet pudding with mushy peas served with chip shop gravy, onion rings and salad. It might be a nice touch to top it with an olive in a nod to the chap that owns the top floor triplex complete with it’s own high rise olive grove - I kid you not.
This towering treat is sandwiched between a brioche bun and served with dripping chips and a squeezy pipette of ‘howling at the moon’ sauce. Their own recipe chilli sauce is made with scorchingly hot Scotch Bonnet peppers and, although we’re no wimps when it comes to heat, it still needs refining to take the sharp edges off a bit.
The desserts are much the same as they are across all New Moon Pub Co sites; mainly Northern classics such as Bakewell tart, sticky toffee pudding and Eccles cake with cheese, all prepared at David’s stepson’s Cheshire bakery. They also serve Mrs Dowson’s excellent Ribble Valley ice Cream but I’d have been happy just pouring that jug of proper crème anglais all over myself.
Children’s menu available - No McRubbish.
If you want to make someone happy, gift vouchers are available.
37 Booth Street off Fountain Street
0161 237 3733