I’ve walked past ‘The Blue Pig’ on High Street, Manchester, a hundred times. It’s on the road down from the Holiday Inn Express to the Arndale, opposite the ‘Oklahoma’ health food cafe/gift shop. I’d called in to the Blue Pig for a drink when they first opened, but didn’t try the food – the menu was a bit complex for a bear of little brains like myself.
Last week I tried them again – they were offering 50% off food so, being a cheapskate, I figured they were worth a punt.
The Blue Pig is the brainchild of Cleo Farman, a mainstay of the Manchester bar scene having created the three ‘Odd’ bars (Odd, Odder and Oddest). I confess that again I haven’t tried them except for drinks.
When the Blue Pig first opened they had an ‘innovative’ table d’hote menu called 333 that featured three starters, three mains and (you guessed it) three desserts. That 333 menu seems to have fallen by the wayside, and the current menu includes an equally innovative ‘create your own platter’ option including cheeses, charcuterie and so on.
The design is Parisian Art Nouveau, very fin de siècle, with large, ornate, brass light fittings and vintage artwork – their website gives an indication of their style. It reminded me of Biba in its pomp (the old ‘Derry & Toms’ building at High Street Kensington), there are perhaps a few too many tables, it’s a little crowded.
The drinks list is reasonably comprehensive, although some of the ‘exotic’ bottled beers were a bit pricier than they should be. Draught Lowenbrau has always been one of my drinks of choice, so that worked for me and at four quid a pint, that’s about the going rate for Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
For a starter, I had a half pint of prawns. These came served, as the name suggests, nestled in a half pint ‘dimple’ glass (jug), just as I remember them being sold when I were a lad, but with a small pot of piquant chilli mayonnaise. On my first visit they’d run out of prawns, so I had a half pint of whitebait, breaded and deep fried.
My main course was the ‘Kobe’ beef burger, served medium, on a bed of peppery rocket with a wasabi mayonnaise. It was delicious, tender, and the beef perfectly complemented by the spicy horseradish. The smoked tomato ketchup, however, was simply awesome! I don’t normally eat the fries that accompany main courses, but the ketchup made these almost irresistible – at least until the ketchup ran out.
The guy at the table next to me sat with a bottle of wine and a deli platter, reading his book. Way too cool for school, but he seemed perfectly content to while away the evening. It would be a good place to spend a Saturday afternoon, maybe after a morning enduring the stresses of the nearby Arndale centre.
List price for starter, burger and two pints of Lowenbrau should have been £22; in itself that was good value for money, but when you take 50% off the food, that brings the price down to just over £15, and an absolute bargain.
I will be back, even without the half price food offer. I might try one of the deli platters, but the memory of that smoked ketchup might drag me back to the burger, and that won’t be a hardship.