I dropped whatever it was I was doing.
The Angel is an unassuming pub on Rochdale Road, just as you head out of Manchester. It's also been got somewhat of a reputation for doing particularly good food thanks to mentalist chef Robert Owen Brown - who is (inevitably) another occasional drinking buddy. Robert is always very self deprecating about his food, often saying things like "it's just shit" - but get him started on game and he gets excited and talks about getting some rabbits in or acquiring a quantity of pheasants and then how he passed on the excess plumage to a local hat maker.
So, grice! As far as I can gather, grouse are pretty difficult to get hold of this season. Even if you are as blue blooded as they come. How Robert got hold of them I don't know and won't be asking but there they were. Four beautifully roasted (with a good bloodyness factor) birds accompanied by a boat of bread sauce, proper rich insane gravy, vegetables, crisps, and a slice of fried bread underneath each bird, saturated with the juices of it all. God it was amazing. Seriously gamey. Slightly challengingly gamey, the thighs particularly so.
And you know what? I've been so excited about the main course that I've completely forgotten to mention the starter. Which was spam fritters. Again it was pretty bonkers - dirty dirty spam coated in an insanely light batter drizzled over with a syrupy sweet sauce. It's so wrong that it's good.
We were indeed privileged to get this fare - the spam I think was a normal menu item however the grouse were definitely a special favour. All-together we paid around £30 a head for this including beers, but I suspect we paid slightly under the odds given the cost of the raw materials.
And here's another first for Secret Lunch... I have actually received a "guest review" of the same place from some friends I sent there the other week:
Thanks for the lunch recommendations :) we went to the Angel for our Sunday Lunch but we made a bit of a mistake: we'd already eaten black pudding for breakfast. So we didn't fancy black pudding again, despite it being a feature of two of the Angel's main courses. Two black-pudding-oriented dishes is quite a rarity so I have to assume it was something pretty special, but I guess we'll never know.
Instead we went for the smoked haddock, and the salmon. My haddock, served with a perfect poached egg, was a bit salty for me but otherwise delicious. My other-half's salmon was pan-fried and served with creamed leeks, really nicely cooked and with a really clear flavour.
For the price (11 or 12 quid per main course) we were a bit disappointed that we had to order extras like potatoes separately, but never mind.
I also had the Angel beer since it said "only served in the Angel pub" on the tap - it was nice stuff, very straightforward and drinkable.
The people we were with had the roast beef and the chicken with black pudding sauce, both of which were good apparently. We were too full for pudding though, even the one that came with tracklements.
However before you all go booking yourself a table, rumour has it that Bad Bobby Brown has just left the Angel and is moving on to some new waterside restauranteering opportunity. This will definitely have to get checked out once he has settled in....