Jonathan Schofield has a meal with an 18ft woman and approves the food
I shared my lunch with a beautiful woman called Serenity who slept all the way through. She was slender, had a lovely red dress and, wow, she was tall, around 18 feet. From what I could gather she seemed to be dreaming of full equality between men and women. You could say she was ‘woke’ but she was never going to wake.
Bunched on a fork together, the fries, the steak and its attendant juices delivered a proper satisfying mouthful
Of course, it might have been better if she’d been at the same table, or even in the same building. Instead, she decorated a wall outside the Quarter House restaurant window, part of the Cities of Hope art project scattered across the Northern Quarter. The artists of this particular work are a collective called Snik and if you sit at the right table, Serenity, a suffragette, snores on her red bricks in her red dress, all through lunch or dinner.
Quarter House used to be Rosy Lee restaurant which was, I think, a sort of trad, updated British restaurant. Fitzgerald cocktail bar, lies on the floor above, unchanged. Quarter House, meanwhile, subtitles itself ‘beer & bbq’. The menu looks a little like it’s 2013 once more, when every UK city was invaded by a glut of restaurants rammed solid with Americana dishes of 2,800 calories - and that was just the starters.
Remember those days? That was a time when napkin and kitchen towel sales rocketed as faces and mushes became caked with various hickory-smoked goo that might be hot as August in Houston but always as achingly sweet as a daytime soap. The names of dishes were headlines from lads mags with the words ‘hardcore’, 'porn' and ‘dirty’ popular. Quarter House goes down this road with titles such as 'Drunken Angry Cow' and 'Still Jerkin’ About' but, thankfully, reins it in before it goes too far.
I wasn’t, I confess, keen investigating further, but the duties of an occasional food reviewer weigh heavy and one has to do one’s duty. So, I tried the entirely reasonably named, rump steak and fries (£12). The flattened steak, 'cooked over charcoal embers', was just so, couldn’t have been timed better, while the bone marrow butter (there’s a garlic herb butter or chimichurri sauce option as well), lent it an oily suavity that glistened on the flesh and kick started extra flavour. The fries were skin-on with good crunch too. Bunched on a fork together, the fries, the steak and its attendant juices delivered a proper satisfying mouthful.
Another glistening delight, the pork belly lollipops (£7) came with a mysterious Cuban marinade (slightly hot, very sticky and sweet) and constituted a big starter with lots of personality. There were three skewers of pork and a vinegary kimchi-like cabbage to add some welcome yang to the ying of the pork’s glaze. There were clever little carrots on there as well and good boost was provided by the apple sauce. This is a good-looking dish but oh so very rich, a little too rich for my taste.
Desserts include an attractive mango sorbet (£5) with, of course, a bbq pineapple, and a vanilla rum compote. It's an attractive beast. The mango really comes through, barbecuing the pineapple adds interest (my friend Lisa put me onto it.) There are lots of cocktails and there are lots of beers on tap or in cans, although there seemed few local ones. What was standout was the service from the waitress-cum-barmaid. She was a natural at the job.
The décor is rough and tumble Northern Quarter, ‘distressed’ as the interior designers call it, with a feature wall featuring, guess what, yep, that's it, bees. Still, this was all in all a pleasurable experience, with a cracking rump steak and fries and great service.
Quarter House is not maybe an out and out destination restaurant but there is talent in the kitchen. This is provided by Jason Latham who has won awards for his BBQ-stylings and displayed them during my meal. If you’re in the area and want to start the night off with a full stomach, then both the prices and the quality on offer, here should make it a contender for a meal. I glanced up at Serenity, as I left, and I think she mumbled approval in her sleep.
Quarter House, 11 Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DB
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All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
(Pork belly 7, steak 7.5, sorbet 6.5)
Laid back and easy
Enthusiastic and attentive