Review: New chef, new season at Manchester Art Gallery Cafe

It goes without saying there are more than enough reasons to find yourself on Mosley Street at Manchester Art Gallery, but over the last year or so food has also most certainly been putting the place on the map.

Mary-Ellen McTague’s residency brought a new found focus on seasonal local produce and now Matthew Taylor, previously of Gotham Hotel, has been brought in to exhibit his unique talents.

Don’t worry though melted cheese lovers, toasties are still firmly part of the lunch repertoire, but on the cusp of the autumn season the menu has being re-imagined. We popped in to see what you might find to eat after working up an appetite wandering amongst the latest displays and old artistic favourites.

Speaking of which, it’s been there forever, but in these times of seemingly unbridled expansion, the Lowry and Valette exhibition, which depicts an Edwardian era Manchester at its smokey, beguiling best, is still a beautiful reminder of this city’s rich industrial heritage.

These days we’ve got soaring, shiny glass oblongs and quinoa though- so it’s not all bad. A simple, fresh salad of succulent, knobbly, multi-coloured heirloom tomatoes and the aforementioned grain, all spiked with a nasally mustard vinaigrette, seemed a nice place to start on a sunny day, especially since we had toasties on the way.

Crisp, malty slices of toasted sourdough spilling out with generous chunks of spicy pastrami, oozing smoked cheese and tangy gherkin crunch would make a nice distraction from any bad day at the office. As it was, this just marked the precursor to more adventurous enterprise.

First a briny, proficiently frenched chunk of confit duck had all these cooler days desire sat on a fragrantly fennel-tinged puy lentil and kale brew. Midday or not, a large glass of rioja didn’t go amiss at this point either.

Star of the show though, was the home cured mackerel. A moist, charred fillet of oily skinned fish sat amongst shavings of pickled mooli, golden beetroot and that chef’s favourite, water lily-like nasturtium leaves. A smudged stripe of horseradish yoghurt brought the best out of everything else on the plate, this was a step above anything else on offer.

Your bread and butter in a gallery cafe should be coffee and cake of course, and thankfully that course was well catered for with an impressive selection of bakes. A dense, nutty little slice of raspberry and coconut sponge didn’t last long, then this wedge of light-as-a-feather aromatic, almond and orange cake finished us off.

Go for the artwork, stay for the toasties? Either way there’s a few hours well spent you can indulge yourself with at Manchester Art Gallery right now.

Manchester Art Gallery Cafe
Mosley St, Manchester M2 3JL
0161 235 8835

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