Those anticipating a Dickensian dining experience have got the wrong end of the stick. Street Urchin is, of course, a pun of the ocean variety rather than a restaurant with an Oliver Twist theme, so there’s no gruel on offer and the service is a tad more friendly than that dished out by Mr Bumble.
A pleasingly succinct menu of small and large things is fluid enough not to warrant putting pen to paper (if it’s fresh in, it makes the cut) so you’ll find the night’s plates sketched out on a pair of blackboards- one for seafood and the other for everything else. Accordingly, we split things down the middle and shared a little from column A and a little from column B.
Our first foray in to the fishy dishes is strikingly hued, coral-coloured trout flesh is stained with the vibrant plum of its beetroot cure, all accentuated by a snow-white apple and horseradish cream. The luxurious, glossy and slightly sweet result is excellent, it’s a wonder we don’t eat more rainbow trout in this country. For me it’s usually at least on a par with any smoked salmon you’ll come across.
A fat, baton-sized spring roll of lamb breast is just as impressive. Bursting with minced meat and ideal to grapple between thumb and forefinger for a dip in cranberry and mint jam, spiked with pomegranate. My only criticism is the garnish, which looks fresh out of a salad bag. It doesn’t really add anything and finds its way on to everything we eat- save for, mercifully, our desserts.
A whole grilled plaice, sat waiting to be smothered in preserved lemon, parsley and caper butter, is the sort of simple service that fish of this quality deserves. If you’re in to seafood, you’re really going to enjoy yourself at Street Urchin. It requires passion for produce, and a confidence in it too, to knock up dishes like this.
Meat-lovers won’t go disappointed either though, and black pudding and walnut stuff pork belly with red onion potato cake and red currant gravy is a heaving celebration of umami and tender textures. Our side dish of beautifully roasted carrots has all the seasonal sweetness that the vegetable sings with at this time of year and joins everything together nicely.
Note to self, vegan desserts are a bit of a risky order. The Coffee and pear granita, a fresh sorbet-style bowl is an interesting creation but doesn’t quite hit the right notes. Perhaps we were a little distracted by the other pud though, Manchester Moneybags, which is as good an after-dinner delicacy as I’ve tried in a long time. Coconut crusted balls of dough, filled with custard and dished up with a little gravy boat of raspberry sauce. It’s clever riff on the Manchester tart which really works, frankly those little bites are worth your visit alone.
From this airy, modern but comfortable setting you’ll find inventive, fresh plates of food that will put a smile on your face, whether you choose surf or turf. Street Urchin is certainly one to watch, swing by and see for yourself.
72 Great Ancoats St, Manchester M4 5BG