After a first Sunday Dinner in what feels like forever, I'm calling off the search on day one.
Give the end of my weekend a solid bottle of red and some scran like this and there’s no need to look any further.
If I had a clipboard with some neatly printed scoring sheets, each containing sections with headings like ‘potato crispiness’, ‘rareness of beef’ and ‘gravy drip-ability’ then – after about a year and half of sloppy Sunday afternoons – I could probably tell you where the best roast dinner in Manchester is.
In the meantime could I recommend that you try Mr Cooper’s Bar and Restaurant, because it’s pretty bloody good.
Before and after the main event you can choose from the usual week-long menu of starters and desserts. This means picking your way through lovely things like Pan fried scallops with sweet, caramelised rims and a subtle, smooth shallot puree speckled with a toasted hazelnut and caper crumb.
Or better still Slow cooked crispy pork belly that gets stuck in your teeth, only because it’s so damn delicious. There’s also a sharply acidic pickled, spiralised celeriac slaw, black pudding croquette, little blobs of apple sauce and a pork scratching.
If you’re not usually tempted to spend £8 on a starter I suggest you start investing here, although it may quite possibly be all downhill from then on.
We’re here for roasted meats and vegetables though and, without getting my tape measure out to test the height of the Yorkshire puddings, I can say that you shouldn’t be disappointed.
The Roast topside of beef comes in generous thick, pink-centred slices whilst another slab of Slow cooked crispy pork belly was so good we unashamedly ordered it a second time.
Mashed parsnip and swede purees, roasted spuds and greens are cooked just how I like them, at least, and sides include tart and sweet Spiced red cabbage or a perfect skin-topped pot of Cauliflower cheese.
I’m not usually one to appreciate props with my pudding, but then I’ve never been served dessert embellished with a little plastic shovel before. Whether or not you’re supposed to eat The Allotment with said shovel, I did and you probably should too.
Either way the gimmicky presentation doesn’t hide the deliciousness of sherbety strawberry sorbet or the genius of sticky little baby toffee apples.
Boozy kirsch cherries and micro herbs complete the homage to the original Mr Cooper, whose garden sat on this site some two hundred years ago.
He probably didn’t grow many pineapples or coconuts, but thankfully we can enjoy them, and the Slow cooked pineapple with coconut crumble was actually my favourite of our two final dishes. Simple, light tropical flavours that nicely sweeten the palate before coffees.
You’re never going to please everyone with a roast dinner, if you grew up on this odd little island then it’s guaranteed you’ll have your own peculiar opinions about how things should be done.
However, I challenge anyone to spend their Sunday afternoon here and not leave feeling a little fuzzy about the food. So, until we’ve all decided where’s best at least, shall we just meet at Mr Cooper’s?
Mr Cooper’s Restaurant and Bar serve Sunday dinner 1pm – 8pm every Sunday
Mr Cooper’s, The Midland, 16 Peter St, Manchester M60 2DS
0161 236 3333