Guest post: Arnero Restaurant

You may have seen that the number of blog posts has dropped off in recent weeks. That is because Amy is going through the hell that is the end of 3rd year, with the delightful examinations and hand-ins that it brings. Unfortunately that means she doesn’t have time to blog, so you’re stuck with Rory this week. Feels weird writing a sentence in the 3rd person….. anyway.

This week, as an attempt to take Amy’s mind off revision, we decided to go out for tea on Saturday, and we opted for a curry at Arnero, which is just off Canal Street. I’m yet to find my Indian in Manchester. Everywhere I’ve ever lived I’ve always had an Indian which I could go to to stuff my face full of Naan bread, and assault my insides with lovely curry (The Ahad in Newcastle is still my all-time favourite), but in Manchester I’m yet to find one that quite hits the spot.

Arnero looked promising. It’s been around for a long time, is extremely well rated on google, and appears to sell good food, at a reasonable price. When we walked in it all looked good. It was full (always a good sign), and smelt fabulous (which is one of my favourite things about a good Indian).

We were quickly shown to our table, were given water (which I swear is the standard by which Amy judges the quality of a restaurant… seriously, go back and look at how often water on the table is mentioned!) and ordered ourselves a bottle of Prosecco (£17.95, What do you mean Prosecco and curry don’t go???). The menu itself was small, which I like (in contrast to some places which have massive menus, and you wonder if they can actually cook it all / has it been made fresh), and it was very reasonably priced, especially when you consider it’s in Manchester city centre (A starter is £5 and mains around £7.50, with rice and naans on top). They also offer a 15% student discount during the week.

Poppadoms

To start with, we opted for Aloo Poori Masala, and some onion Bhajis. The Aloo Poori Masala (£4.50) is a curried potato dish, served with little Indian fried breads. I would have to say it was my favourite dish of the night. The potatoes were served in a tomato based sauce, which was absolutely divine, and the fried breads were cooked beautifully. I could have eaten it all day. The Onion Bhaji (£3.50) was also well cooked, and was very good. However you can’t rave about an Onion Bhaji… It is after all, an Onion Bhaji; very difficult to get wrong.

Aloo Poori Masala
Aloo Poori Masala – £4.50
Onion Bahji
Onion Bahji – £3.50
The starters were swiftly followed by the mains (the service was excellent all evening). Amy opted for a Chicken Makhani (£7.25), whereas I went for the Lamb Banjara (£8.25), as well as rices and Naans. The Chicken Makhani is a classic Amy choice. Her favourite curry is Butter Chicken, and the Makhani was in many ways very similar, cooked in a creamy, buttery tomato sauce. It was very well spiced, with nothing overpowering it, and was excellent for dipping (Always a good judge of how good a curry is, is how much Naan is dipped in it). Unfortunately, it was somewhat let down by the chicken in it. It was very rubbery. We couldn’t work out if this was because it was poor quality chicken, or if it had been nuked in a microwave, which tends to give chicken that texture.

Chicken Makhani
Chicken Makhani – £7.25
The Lamb Banjara also resembles a favourite dish of mine (I love a spicy lamb curry). It is a curry with garlic and ginger, cooked in yoghurt based sauce, and a healthy amount of chilli. Again, like Amy’s it was well spiced, with nothing overpowering anything else, but it was just missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it, but I preferred Amy’s.

Lamb Banjara
Lamb Banjara – £8.25
All in all, a good Indian, but not the amazing one I was hoping for. It does a decent plate of food, for a reasonable price, and is definitely worth a go. Unfortunately, it’s missing that X factor you look for in an awesome Indian. I hope you liked my attempt at blogging. Normal service will be resumed soon.

The Coore Arms in Scruton, Northallerton

This weekend we went to visit our friends Tom and Sue up in Northallerton, so this review is of a pub we went to near there. I would recommend the area for a visit – Lovely greenery, and lots of nice countryside to relax in.

Growing up in a small village really makes me appreciate a proper pub dinner; not a chain like Marston’s but a classic, landlord lives upstairs pub that has the warmth of a home and delicious home cooked food. The Coore Arms in Northallerton is just that.

As soon as you walk in to this pub you are greeted with friendly bar staff, the smell of pub food and a great deal of warmth. The atmosphere is perfect for a good pub, plenty of tables to sit in the bar area with an open fire and comfy chairs. A great array of drinks including real ale, wine and gin (many others of course).

After ordering drinks at the bar we were shown to our table in the restaurant. Walking round the back of the bar and down a short corridor leads to a lovely dining area with great big comfy chairs and wooden oak tables. Even seated near the kitchen was not a problem, no draft from the door being opened and didn’t even notice it was behind us. The menu itself was brilliant, so many choices all freshly prepared and homemade meant choosing quite difficult.

After talking myself down from ordering all the starters for myself Rory and I decided to share the brie with cranberry sauce and the chicken goujons. Tom and Sue ordered the pate and a beetroot and feta salad which looked delicious. Battered anything is usually good, but these chicken goujons were better than good, the batter was so crispy and light, clearly homemade and freshly cooked. The brie again was delicious, small pieces breaded and fried exactly the way I wanted it. All plates were empty and we were very much looking forward to the mains.

Brie with cranberry sauce
Breaded brie with dressed leaves and cranberry sauce – £5.50
Chicken goujons
Fresh battered chicken goujons with sour cream and sweet chilli dip – £5.95
Pate
Chicken liver and ginger pate with red onion marmalade and warm ciabatta – £5.95
Beetroot and feta cheese salad with toasted pine nuts – £5.95
Unfortunately, they had run out of the burger which is what I really wanted, but instead I ordered a sirloin steak. Steaks all round for the table, two sirloin and two rib-eye, not the most adventurous choice but I really wanted onion rings. The steaks came with a generous helping of sides, and were clearly good cuts of local meat. The waitress sadly got the plates mixed up and gave me the medium well and Tom the medium rare, it wasn’t till near the end of the meal we realised he had mine and vice versa. This did mean I was a little disappointed but the onion rings were delicious and the chips were great so it wasn’t the end of the world. Tom kept telling us how good his steak was, so that’s a positive side, hopefully he won’t be ordering medium well steaks again. In hindsight, I probably should have spoken up but in a typical British fashion, I just let it slide.

Sirloin steak
10 oz sirloin steak, field mushroom, oven baked tomato, chips and onion rings – £18.95
Desserts, is it really a question anymore. A great selection of puddings including sticky toffee pudding, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate and hazelnut roulade and a selection of ice creams. Rory and Tom ordered the STP with only a glance at the menu and Sue ordered the roulade. I almost ordered the cheesecake but the saw they had rhubarb crumble ice cream which I just had to try. I am so glad I did, what an ice cream! Creamy, delicious with just the right amount of tang from the rhubarb. Delicious end to a lovely meal. I am told the STP was delicious too, beautifully moist with a generous helping of toffee sauce.

Sticky toffee pudding
Sticky toffee pudding, hot toffee sauce & ice cream – £4.95
Pate
Chocolate and hazelnut roulade – £4.95
Rhubarb crumble ice cream
2 scoop vanilla and rhubarb crumble ice cream – £2.95
If you are ever in the Northallerton area I would highly recommend this brilliant local pub; I hope to go back again soon!