Apart from the odd day where I'm too busy to bother with anything and end up eating 2 biscuits and a lump of cheese, my lunches are typically rather lavish - with the daily reward of enduring another 3 hours of work in the morning usually leaving me going a little too far at the local ALDI.
So heading to The Patron last week, I wasn't really expecting too much. Sort of like when Henry VIII got to wife number 4, The Patron would have to be pretty special to stand out from the crowd. Especially considering its location slap-bang in the middle of the NQ.
The Patron's Lunch Menu first of all represents some solid value for money. Okay, so at £10 it's not exactly cheap, but this isn't the kind of thing you're going to be doing every single day. Not unless you're Richie Rich that is.
So for a tenner you get a choice of a main and a side, and as you can see with the pictures - the portions are extremely generous. As a group, we ordered as much as we could so I could give as much of the menu a taste as possible. In no particular order, this is what we ate...
The Lamb Meatballs was the one dish which everyone agreed was a stand-out winner, mostly in part to the delicious sauce that they were cooked in. The menu describes it as a 'white sauce with fresh herbs and lashings of yoghurt', and it was so moorish that once it is tasted, nobody was able to stop.
The meatballs themselves were excellent; juicy, soft and extremely meaty - each mouthful was a pleasure. There were also lots of them – enough for a few strapping boys to tuck into and feel suitably satisfied.
One of the most difficult dishes to get right (in my opinion of course) is Shakshuka. This Middle Eastern dish is such a tough one to crack primarily because it's one of them meals where everyone's mum does the best one in the world.
Much like a Sunday Roast or a Full English, ask a Jewish person where to get the best Shakshuka and they'll say "back at home" (and probably not entertain any other opinion after that).
Well, this Shakshuka dish may end up getting ripped to shreds from the Middle Eastern community but I must say that it was one of the best I've ever had. I must admit to only ever having 3 in my life, but this one is definitely in the top half.
The balance of the tomatoes and spice worked perfectly, and the addition of cheese on top, while probably sacrilege to some, added a welcome element of naughtiness to the dish. The addition of Labneh (a sort of marriage of cream cheese and yoghurt) was another genius touch to the dish.
During the meal I managed to maintain a rather healthy grip on the Chestnut Mushroom Shawarma which was placed in front of me, a dish which comes topped with a Pickled Avocado and a Butter Bean and Red Pepper Hummus.
The mushrooms were cooked to perfection, liberally seasoned, juicy and with a very satisfying meatiness to them.
Probably a very popular choice, the Bavette Steak is served on top of a slab of bread alongside a bit of salad and some Harissa Mayo. Cooked in a Josper down in the kitchen, the steak was fantastic - soft and juicy but also considerably smokier than other steaks I've had in the past.
This was perfect alongside the twang of the Harissa and the peppery rocket.
Another big hitter, the Chicken Kebab was a monster - a huge plate filled with a thick line of smoky chicken pieces, salad, mint yoghurt and a lovely big pickle on top. Again, thanks to the Josper, the chicken had a certain BBQ'd texture, but still managed to be flavoursome and moist.
Even though there was a little too much coriander in the salad for me to truly enjoy myself, I understand that a lot of (rather strange) people enjoy it. If you do - then this is a winner for sure.
Sides consist of Sweet Potato Mash, Shawarma-Spiced Skinny Fries or a Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad. The fries were fantastic. Go for them. Or if you're watching your figure - the tomato salad. I wasn't much of a fan of the Sweet Potato - mostly because I'm not a fan of them elsewhere and think of them as the poor cousin to the much more impressive 'savoury' potato.
In addition to all of the excellent food, as you may know if you've been in, The Patron have a wealth of excellent drink options behind the bar including some constantly changing ales, a fantastic selection of bottles and cans and some great wines.
Oh and the staff there were lovely, and always have been. Pat on the back for everyone all round.
The Patron, Manchester M1 1JJ
0161 241 7079