Sometimes it’s hard to remain un-biased. The Rose Garden on Burton Road in West Didsbury only opened in May. It’s a small, independent, family concern - much like my own deli in that respect. Head chef is the owner William Mills whose architect father designed the interior which was fitted out by his brother. Various friends and family ensure that front of house runs smoothly. The modern British menus are inspired by the seasons, and they insist on prioritising local producers and suppliers when sourcing ingredients. So I was pre-disposed to like it before I even stepped foot in the place - all it had to do was mess up, but it didn’t.
The name ‘rose garden’ conjures up romantic whimsy in the form of pastel shades, trellis wall paper and vintage tea cups but this is anything but. Walls are mostly painted white and colour is introduced with clever lighting and modern art.
Before I get onto the food, I just need to spend some of my word count praising our waitress. I didn’t get her name (it says Chloe on the receipt) and wasn’t sure if she was a sister, niece, aunt, cousin or family friend, but she was great. Attentive but not pushy, professional but relaxed, and she didn’t refer to us as ‘guys’ once (which I hate, as I do not live in an episode of ‘Friends’.) She also provided us with a magic self-filling water bottle because it always seemed to get refilled unasked, even though I swear I didn’t see her touch it once.
Remember, I’m on this crazy high protein diet at the moment which dictates what I order but I needn’t have worried. To start, two of us had wild boar carpaccio (£7.25). 7 thin slices of lightly cured and tender meat complimented by a centre of remoulade which was sweetened with apple and packed with a horseradish punch. To give depth to the overall texture of the dish he’d scattered the plate with crumbs of delicious crackling and some micro leaves.
Our friend ordered the Scotch egg (£6.95) – a ubiquitous inclusion on most current menus. This one was perfectly cooked with only a very thin layer of meat surrounding it which apparently maximised the crunchy texture of the outer batter. It was served with a tiny jar of home-made rhubarb chutney. The other starter was a huge bowl of steaming mussels, decent value at £6.95.
For mains, two of us chose the sea bass with a trio of scallops – smoked, seared and lightly battered (£19.95). It was a delicate, well-balanced dish which consisted of various components all working well together.
Our friend ordered beef ‘two-ways’ (£19.95) this was a huge, robust dish consisting of both rare fillet and slow-cooked shin, roast tomatoes and layered potatoes.
My husband was mildly disappointed with his venison with a Rubik’s cube of beetroot and carrot (£21.95) mainly because despite it being more expensive, it was quite a bit smaller than the beef dish. Also, since listening to a recent Radio 4 documentary he’s learnt that venison is only a generic term for a number of wide ranging breeds of deer and always (quite unreasonably) expects restaurants to be more specific.
We shared a couple of bottles of house red the Sicilian Nero D’Avola (£14.95) which slipped down nicely with the meat dishes but was too hefty for the delicate sea bass – not their fault, obviously.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to review desserts until I make friends with my skinny jeans again. Once I firmly declared I wasn’t going to indulge it had a domino effect on the rest of the table, so no-one ordered pudding. Glancing at the menu (I’m allowing myself to at least do that) it consists of dessert classics such as lemon tart, Pavlova and warm chocolate fondant which, if done well are all you need really.
The total bill for four came to £144.85 which we considered to be a fair price as it included two bottles of wine, starters and mains.
It’s early days yet for ‘The Rose Garden’ and Will is possibly still finding his feet as first time head chef in his own place. At this rate, once he’s bedded in and formed a working relationship with his customer base, he has every chance of creating something really special here. What with the excessive parking charges in central Manchester, the suburbs are definitely worth a visit and I echo the cry that can be heard all the way down Burton Road, ‘support your local independents’.
The Rose Garden, 218 Burton Rd, West Didsbury, M20 2LW
Tel 0161 478 0747 www.therosegardendidsbury.com