Another week into the new year, and another new venue opening in Ancoats. We began with Seven Bro7hers opening their beer house, and Ancoats General Store, and it’s gone from strength to strength. I can’t wait to head to Canto, and the Hip Hop Chip Shop in their new home. Oh and stop by Elnecot for more croquettes, because they’re so good.
But last night was the launch do for The Counter House. Think Melbourne style – food with a healthy twist, comfort food that’s good for you, and you get the vibe. And after sampling food at the launch, it is most definitely delivering on what it’s promising.
Welcomed with a cocktail of fresh pressed juices and vodka (if it’s simple and tastes good, don’t mess with it), we were lucky enough to be seated at the pass. I do adore watching people work – especially in a kitchen or bar setting. I can watch, learn, and enjoy, whilst firm in the knowledge that my side of the pass or bar is where there’s a comfy chair and a drink in my hand.
And so to the food. We began with a selection of dips – artichoke and white bean, carrot and cumin, and beetroot baba ghanoush. I have a sensitivity to cumin, so whilst I liked the carrot and cumin, was more than happy for my date to enjoy the majority. That said, I’d have fought with her over the other two. I love artichokes (both types), and the beetroot baba ghanoush was delicious. A little earthy, a little sweet, and creamy. Oh and totally vegan, so accessible for everyone.
Plate number two was a stunner too. Runny yolked poached egg, Hollandaise sauce, baked avocado and tea smoked salmon on toast. Again simple, but so tasty. The malted grains of the bread, with the crispy but creamy avocado, the flakes of hot smoked salmon and the runny egg.
On a related note, I really shouldn’t write when I’m hungry.
For vegan diners, a the salmon was swapped out for aubergine ‘bacon’. We did manage to snaffle a taster of from a fellow diner. Yes, I know it’s not real bacon, but it still had a crisp texture, and smoky flavour, that would work well as a contrast to the tofu hollandaise and crisp charred asparagus.
Our next dish was again one for everyone. Being seated at the pass meant we could not only watch plates being put together, but also smell every dish as it was cooked. The smell of the turmeric cauliflower as it was brought out of the oven was heavenly. Served with nutty chickpeas, a gently sour yoghurt tahini dressing (there was an alternative vegan version), and gently cooked spinach, cherry tomatoes and red onion, all topped with a few toasted flaked almonds, it was something that even as a confirmed meat eater, would have me happily ordering a plateful.
There were more teasers to come. A big pan full of wild rice and edamame beans appeared in front of us, and the smell was so good, I knew this dish was going to be good.
And I do like to be proved right.
Sitting on top of the wild rice was a coconut sauce, and almond coated chicken. A katsu with a difference – and one that was so good, I regaled my Uber driver with details on the way home. I would eat this every day for lunch at work and it would take months for me to get bored with it. The wild rice and edamame beans were a nutty umami base, the coconut was creamy gently spicy, and then the chicken was tender and creamy, with a little crispness.
Jan. Please. I’m begging. Can I have the recipe please? Or just let me watch someone make it, I won’t share it, I swear. It will be for personal use only.
For the vegans, the chicken was swapped for a coated aubergine, which I’m pretty certain will have been just as delicious, if only because the base components are exactly the same.
All too soon dessert beckoned and whilst I’d have probably swapped it for another portion of the chicken, it wouldn’t have been fair. Dessert was coconut yoghurt cheesecake with blueberries. The cheesecake was chilled up to two minutes before service to keep it’s shape and texture perfect. With a sweet syrup, the fresh fruit, compote, and seeds for texture, it was a lovely end to a fabulous meal.
The Counter House is a fantastic addition to Ancoats, and to the city as a whole. And for me, a damn good reminder that I need to walk up to Ancoats more often than I do.
So who fancies coming with me so I can have more chicken?
As a launch event, all food and drink on the evening was paid for by the venue. It’s good. Very very good. Please go, but not too many of you because I want to go too. Thank you.