When you think about posh tasting menus, you might think of a luxurious hotel in the Lakes or a posh Yorkshire pub, or even an expensive Michelin star restaurant in Ancoats. You probably wouldn’t come up with a tiny former café on a row of shops in deepest Urmston. But the truth is, one of Manchester’s most exciting new openings this year is in Urmston. It’s a tiny restaurant called Örme and it’s doing monthly changing tasting menus for just £45 a head. We went to investigate.
The restaurant is the project of chefs Jack Fields and Tom Wilson, mates who grew up in Urmston, and honorary Mancunian Rachel Roberts who happens to be Jack’s partner and has lived here for 13 years. Rachel, who manages front of house and acts as sommelier, came to Manchester as a student and like many who fall in love with its charms, never left. Jack probably had something to do with it too.
Tom tells us his mum spotted the unit up for sale when she was walking her dog and suggested they try and make something of it. He admits he thought it was a terrible idea at first but since the restaurant has been fully booked every night since they opened just a couple of months ago, he’s coming around to the idea.
The tasting menus here are astonishingly good value. Jack says they manage to keep costs down by championing cheaper cuts and using every bit of the whole chunks of animal they buy in. This also ties into their policy on sustainability. The three owners are on the floor and in the kitchen grafting too, which keeps staffing costs down for now while they build their brand.
Music from northern bands like The Coral and the Arctic Monkeys plays softly in the background as a reminder that this place may be doing fancy tasting menus but it’s still very much a youthful northern indie venture. Decor is modern and understated with striped pine panelling complementing the navy walls – to which the chefs have matched their uniforms.
There’s none of your tablecloth stuffiness and service is relaxed while confidently knowledgable. This is clearly their baby and they are proud of it. They tell us they want it to feel like you are being welcomed into their home.
We start with mini loaves made with maple and oats that come with an intensely delicious Marmite and balsamic butter, and snacks which change daily. On our visit they are a sweetcorn and basil spring roll and a one-bite Welsh rarebit – playful takes on comfort food that get us in the mood to eat.
We love a first course of red pepper, dehydrated and then rehydrated to give an almost candied feel. It comes with Yorkshire Fettle, a clever name for feta made in Yorkshire, and a custard made from the same cheese. It brings out a red pepper note in an accompanying English wine from Lyme Bay.
Ahh the wine… Rachel says she wants to “bring amazing British wines to the forefront.” So there is a choice of classic or English drinks pairing with the tasting menu. While both are great, the English one wins our hearts overall. It’s adventurous and enlightening – one of the English wines is made from grapes grown as locally as Cheshire and Birmingham.
The next dish will send you right back to your childhood, shelling peas with your nan and eating as many as you can get away. French mussels are married with the classic vermouth and cream and a handful of raw peas just kissed by the BBQ. It’s finished with a drizzle of elderflower dressing and what Jack calls ‘burger pickle’. Those peas have come from his uncle’s allotment. You can’t get much more locally grown than that.
The grape Bacchus is sometimes described as the English Sauvignon Blanc as its lively aroma leapfrogs out of the glass in a similar fashion. The one matched with the mussels here has bags of elderflower, dried mango and sugar snap pea that complements those flavours in the dish very well indeed.
Next, a bowl of sticky rib with dehydrated tomatoes is dressed in basil puree and covered in a blanket of Old Winchester cheese sauce. It hits like a premium lasagne without the pasta. As rich and comforting as a good mattress. This one is a supplementary dish for an extra £9 – just do it.
Next comes a dish described at the table as Mancunian chicken, which makes us think about strutting cockerels wearing parkas and calling each other ‘our kid’. It turns out that the Mancunian element actually comes from its being steeped in Brightside Brewery’s Mancunian blonde IPA (the chicken’s from Lancashire).
This is served with a sausage made by Jack and “courgettes nicked from my uncle”. Chef points out that the Polyspore Girolle mushrooms in the dish are “not quite perfect yet”. They taste great to us.
The cheese course is served with a brown butter and hazelnut cake that’s giving Kinder Bueno vibes and really compliments a creamy Buffalo Blue cheese (from Yorkshire dairy Shepherd’s Purse). It’s served with chilled English vermouth over ice.
It’s clear that Rachel is passionate and knowledgable about wine. She has worked for big wine suppliers and smaller indies and her matches are exceptional. She doesn’t just stick to wines though.
Following a zingy pre-dessert of white chocolate custard with blackcurrants, a lemon verbena meringue tart is matched with a sour beer from Track – lemon curd in liquid form. A thrilling end to a fantastic meal.
Sometimes, when an ambitious venture opens in a small town, locals like to complain. Not so here. Local reaction has been “way better” than the team expected and it looks like Örme is settling right in as a neighbourhood restaurant in the truest sense of the word. On our visit, a diner at a table by the window waves to at least two of her neighbours as they walk by.
Even if you’re not a local, we highly recommend that you check out the wonderful things the team at Örme are doing. It’s only a 15 minute walk from Urmston train station and there’s a fantastic wine bar, Kelder Wines, at the half way point if you’re in need of a pit stop on the way back.
Opening Hours: Wednesday and Thursday 6 pm–12 am, Friday and Saturday 12–4 pm, then 6 pm–12 am
Address: 218 Church Rd, Urmston, Manchester. M41 9DX