Chorlton is hardly Cape Cod but Neil Sowerby still rates this new seafood shack
THAT old (Ian) Brown chestnut about Manchester having everything except a beach should really be segued into “…a beach where decent seafood can be landed and enjoyed”.
Our fish restaurant record is woeful; the salty spectres of long-departed Livebait and fish! lie strewn across the city centre’s barren shore, where only newcomer Randall & Aubin is seriously trawling the oceans on our behalf (and even their new bar snack menu majors on chipolatas and devilled eggs).
Oh yes, and bobbing along bravely out in Heaton Moor there’s Easy Fish, a terrific ’monger that cooks the stuff, too, in its smart cafe.
I gave it 14/20 back in 2015; earlier this year Lucy Tomlinson edged it up to 14.5/20. This is where Chorton’s The Oystercatcher sources its raw materials.
Deep-fried brown-meat crab cakes were gloriously crisp and crabby.
I’d expected their suppliers would be Out of the Blue down the road, where I’d purchased a brace of lemon sole, some monkfish and new season samphire en route. I was spoilt for choice, as usual.
I’ve just returned from America’s Eastern seaboard, where we had feasted on leviathan lobsters and soft shell steamer clams the size of small mammals.
Saturday lunchtime in downtown Chorlton is hardly Nantucket or Cape Cod but the former Grey’s Larder, with lots of light planking, could pass muster as a seafood shack.
On first impression, though, with a gaggle of babies and some breastfeeding underway, it might also have doubled as a creche.
We concentrated on the – sensibly concise – menu while broaching the perfect daytime fish wine, a 11.5 % Quinta da Pousade Areal Vinho Verde (£26).
A world away from most thin, prickly VVs, citrussy fresh but with surprising complexity.
After all those creamy New England clam chowders, The Oystercatcher’s tomato-based Manhattan version came as a culture shock, but for £6 it packed in a lot of prime fish and spice.
My trio of dainty, deep-fried brown-meat crab cakes, for the same price, were gloriously crisp and crabby.
A delightful start, but then we waited a long while for three mains to arrive – by which time all the wee ones had been toted home for their afternoon nap.
Denied any view of lapping waves or wheeling gulls, we fretted. Still eventually, thar she blows and it was all worth the wait.