By Jo Cooksey
In the five years I have been editing Taste Today, I have been lucky enough to visit a large proportion of the city centre’s eateries. However, I had never been to Tariff & Dale for food and frankly I have felt I was missing out. Last week I filled that gap in my experience and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.
If The Walls Could Talk
The bar and restaurant opened four years ago, in a former cotton showroom and weaving factory, on the corner of Tariff Street and Dale Street. See what they did there? The building itself is very atmospheric with bare brick, industrial machinery and huge iron girders. You get the feeling, as you wander between the bar on the ground floor and the restaurant in the basement, that if these Dickensian walls could talk, this 160-year-old building would have some spellbinding tales to tell.
I popped along with my buddy and font of all dining offers info, M-DOG, for a mid-week early dinner, (as in evening meal not lunch). I’ve only ever been in Tariff & Dale for drinks prior to this, including the now infamous Gin Journey Gin-cident but let’s quickly gloss over that. So, I haven’t been downstairs into the restaurant before. It and the kitchens sit in what were the basement weaving rooms. The eating area is a cosy space with a low ceiling and a mix of booths and high tables. Dominating the open kitchen is a large wood burning pizza oven, one of the dishes that Tariff & Dale are renowned for. In fact, they have a great pizza offer that runs every Friday lunchtime. From 12.30pm to 2.30pm you can enjoy unlimited pizza and a soft drink for only £9 or with a house beer, cider or wine for £11.
We were shown to a booth and began to peruse the a la carte menu, in between chattering ten to the dozen. The staff bless them, were very patient in waiting for us to finally get around to ordering. There is a section for appetisers and one for starters, which I found slightly confusing because I always think of appetisers as being little treats to snack on with a drink prior to your starter arriving. Don’t get me wrong there are tempting nibbles on the appetisers menu, such as Nocellara Olives and Wasabi Peas but then there are more filling dishes such as the Mackerel Pâté that I chose for my first course. The pâté itself was creamy and delightful, if a little bony but it was served with big hunks of artisan, crusty, white bread. Lovely bread to serve with a rustic meat pâté, but I would have preferred to eat this delicate delight with a daintier mode of transport from plate to tum. Just me then? A couple of toasted, thin slices of a nutty brown loaf would have worked better for me but at £5.50 it was good value.
My ‘canine’ companion chose one of Tariff & Dale’s famous rough puff pastry sausage rolls, that have been on the menu since they opened and featured in the Ancoats and Northern Quarter cookbook I worked on last year, It’s Cooking Good. Having eschewed Veganuary on the grounds of the multitude of January 50% off offers, my little furry friend was in the midst of Veggie February, so he chose the Mushroom & Lancashire Blue Cheese one, served with dressed leaves and Curious Porter Ketchup. He really liked it and even I, who has an aversion to blue cheese, thought it was most delicious. A moist and flavoursome filling, not overpowered by the cheese and encased in a top notch, rough puff pastry. I’d like to try a whole one of these to myself next time.
The Main Event
For mains you can eat off the pizza or grill menu or choose one of the classic gastro pub dishes; comfort food made with well matched, seasonal produce. I umm’d and ahh’d over my choice for a while, as there were two entrées that set my mouth watering. Roasted Cod Loin with Cockle Sauce or Crispy Pork Belly with Black Pudding & Potato Terrine. A tough decision but in the end the pork won, and it was excellent. The crackling layer was crispy, the fat juicy and the meat just fell apart. The terrine was a really nice way to introduce black pudding to the party and the broccoli was charred on a griddle, just the way I like it. There were also caramelised shallots and a mustard vinaigrette, the sharpness of which cut through the richness of the pork beautifully. The menu did say it came with a Scotch Egg, but I only realized later that mine was missing. Can’t say I missed it though, I was stuffed.
The veg-munching one opposite me ordered the Spiced Falafel Burger. It was of a very generous size, served in a wholemeal bun with lettuce, red onion, plum tomatoes, dill pickles, fries and sweetcorn & pepper relish. Falafel has a habit of being a bit dry and the boy felt it could have done with something like melted cheese or tzatziki to add some additional moisture. He said he thought it was lacking a little flair. The accompanying salad ingredients were ultra-fresh, and the chips were hot and crispy.
To be honest we were both rather full by now, but we hate missing out on dessert, so in the end we decided to share one. A White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake with a Hazelnut Crumb and Fresh Raspberries. This was soooo damn good. Despite our full tummies, we managed to demolish it, along with a pot of tea for him and a coffee for me.
Will We Return?
For sure. I have been wanting to go to Tariff & Dale since it opened and I’m really glad I finally got round to it. I like the feel and the vibe of the place and the food is just my sort. It’s also handy for Piccadilly train station and has lots of nearby parking. A word to the wise, Monday’s between 5pm and 10pm it 50% off food. Best to book in advance. Fill yer boots!
We were guests of Tariff & Dale but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.