The Times review the Ancoats eatery that "seems to come from people who genuinely like to eat"

The Sunday Times critic Marina O'Loughlin went down to Ancoats recently and visited one of our favourite venues...

By Ben Brown | February 4th '20

This week’s Sunday Times featured a review from food critic Marina O’Loughlin, whom visited Erst in Ancoats recently – and well, what did she think?!

Starting by examining the change of direction in recent years for so-called ‘wine bars’ – venues which were once run by “plonk-eurs” but are now aiming to be “accessible, fun, as smoking hot as they are supercool”, providing “unpredictable pleasures of the lesser known.”

Which swiftly moves onto Erst in Ancoats, a venue Marina describes as a place that “seems to come from people who genuinely like to eat.”

Short though the menu is, it’s no afterthought: a magpie collection of, apparently, whatever tickles — pickles? — their collective fancies.

Erst’s menu of small plates have been lauded by the Finest team ever since they opened last year, an always changing and evolving menu of sustainable Modern British delights. Delights such as their “fiendishly good crispy potatoes” with a yeast sauce that is described as “a touch of genius“.

Marina continues; “Salads and cold dishes are inspired: burgundy spears of radicchio dotted with fried, salted walnuts and slivers of pear: bitter, sweet, salty, smart as. Or petals of venison loin, seared at the edges, raw in the middle; on top, a salty drift of ricotta forte and scatter of fried capers.

The Boudin Noir (blood sausage) is described as a “splendid, priapic thing” with her pupils “dilating at the thought of it.” As someone who tucked into this sausage just a few weeks ago on their January Lunch Menu – I must concur.

Finally, the flatbreads were “puffy and pleasingly blistered, slathered with the pungent, zesty green ointment of gremolata or veils of lardo.” Once again – a dish on an inspired menu that should be tried by all.

There are a few gripes in there, which I suppose is to be expected from any national food critic, by the negatives are seemingly condensed by the writer as “fearsome nitpicking.”

So, there we go – a riveting read and something that, as a regular visitor to the venue, I can only agree with, nod my head and perhaps snidely say “I told you so”.

The one thing that Marina seems to gloss over though is the wine, something which has always been an absolute pleasure at Erst, a selection of carefully curated and inspired bottles, many of which you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the city (at least not for very long anyway).

Well done to the team down at Erst – well deserved praise indeed.

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