New opening: The Lamb of Tartary sprouts up in the old Cottonopolis site with top grills and elevated pub classics

By Ben Arnold | 5 March 2024

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In ancient lore, the Lamb of Tartary was said to be a half animal, half plant ‘zoophyte’, the fruit of which was the sheep, connected to the earth by umbilical roots.

The plant in question was the cotton plant, the fruits of which Manchester is not unfamiliar with, while Tartary was the vast expanse of land stretching across Central and North Central Eurasia.

The notion of an ancient ‘Tartarian empire’ even has its own wild online conspiracy theory, with tendrils and roots which extend to this very day.

That’s a rabbit hole best avoided, unlike The Lamb of Tartary, a new all-day eatery on the edge of the Northern Quarter, on the site of Cottonopolis, one of the city’s most storied bars. 

The Lamb of Tartary

Behind the stoves at the back of this huge room, now clad in tongue-and-groove, painted in light, neutral colours, Manchester’s chef of the year Shaun Moffat, of sister pub the Edinburgh Castle in Ancoats, has done away with the previous menu of Asian-inspired dishes, sushi and small plates in favour of what he is best at.

“It’s a bit more European in feel,” he told Manchester’s Finest last week, part way through his very first service. “We want it to be an eatery and a boozer, in one, and I feel like we’re getting there. We don’t want to be [pub-style] ‘fish and chips’, there’s enough places doing that, and doing it very well.”

Indeed, the Edinburgh Castle has been a resounding success, since Moffat moved from London (via restaurants like Manteca and Berber & Q) to run the kitchen in what has become one of the city’s favourite boozers.

He’s had a viral hit – his ‘chip butty’, crammed with triple cooked chips, beef fat mayo, beef tartare, Burford brown egg yoke and pickled shallots – and made ‘the EC’ a destination for pub food elevated to some pretty lofty levels.

If the plan is to make the Lamb of Tartary any less elevated, by the standards of its opening lunch last week, it’s not doing a very good job of it.

The Lamb of Tartary

Things sound simple – cured trout (£12), bacon collar (£22), a prawn cocktail (£9) – but they’re not really simple, because they’re done right. 

The burger (£12) isn’t just a burger, it’s made from dairy cow, and the bacon collar is salted in-house, a sliced-up slab of salty pork with a glossy sauce to be mopped up with a bowl of triple-cooked chips.

Eating all-day is key here too, with bacon chops, belly bacon, fried eggs and chips, a lamb mince scotch egg, burrata with green sauce, rostis, English muffins, with grills like a lamb saddle chop from being aimed at the evening diners.

The Lamb of Tartary

The brown crab crumpets (£8), meanwhile, slathered in a perfect hollandaise, were eaten in silence. A pair of these, a bowl of chips and a glass of the black stuff would make a fine, possibly spectacular, lunch.

So while these are elevated dishes, they’re not necessarily at elevated prices. “The price points here aren’t expensive, so we want to make sure that we’re doing the best we can for the prices too,” reckons Shaun.

Drinks-wise, there will be a ‘Lamb’s Spritz’, a Paloma made with grapefruit and rosemary soda, and a championing of the classics, like the Gimlet and the Sidecar.

There is also a mean pint of Guinness, along with a range-y 24 beers on tap, from local breweries like Manchester Union and the Mobberley Brewhouse.

“I kind of wanted it to be an extension of the Edinburgh Castle, but also not the Edinburgh Castle,” Shaun says. Much like its name, this place is very much its own thing. And all the better for it.

The Lamb of Tartary, 16 Newton St, Manchester M1 1AE