Updated: Tuesday, 19th February 2019 @ 2:58pm

Annies @ St Ann's Square, Manchester

Annies @ St Ann's Square, Manchester

By Barrie White

There’s one thing promising delicious food in a homely atmosphere, but it’s another thing delivering it and Annies does just that.

The restaurant, off St Ann’s Square, is co-owned by Coronation Street star Jennie McAlpine, who set out to offer a fine dining experience while having the feel of an Auntie’s house.

With a gentle soundtrack of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, our orders were taken in the comfortable bar area, which house the restored dining club style chairs – so comfortable, we thought about how we could smuggle them in our jumpers and away.

Our table became available and starters arrived not too long after – Bury black pudding spring rolls with Thai dressed coriander salad leaves and mussels cooked in a white wine and sauce.

While the spring rolls seemed an unusual combination, it provided a superb taste sensation, with crisp pastry adding to the chunky black pudding.

My dining companion was delighted with the mussels, and with so many in the bowl, he wondered if he was going to finish.

Even in its infancy, Annies has already established a signature dish with their version of a hot pot – and if there is ever a time to go with popular opinion, this is it.

The hot pot is covered by a topping of crisp potato, with a mixture of slowly-braised lamb shank and vegetables, while it was served with caramelised red cabbage, and a side order of fat chips.

There’s a reason it’s so popular – it tastes great!

The richness of the cabbage, which was cooked to perfection, complemented the broth-like nature of the hot pot, where the soft meat melted away in the mouth, while the spot-on fat chips provided further delights for the palate and were perfect for mopping up the hot pot.

Many of Annies’ fans also herald the '3 Cheese & Onion' pie, but my companion shunned opted to go for pan fried chicken, stuffed with garlic and thyme mousse served with fondant potato, roasted shallots and a mustard sauce.

The chicken was superbly cooked and was complemented by the mousse, providing an excellent choice of main meal.

Both main meals were accompanied by the house wines – I enjoyed the red, which was a Chilean Merlot called Vicuna, while my friend had Vicuna Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, which are both part of Annies’ exclusive wine list. 

For dessert, my long association with my sweet tooth is set to end, so to go out with a bang on Annie’s sticky toffee pudding, vanilla ice cream, was almost delightful, and the mixture of the sponge pudding and hot toffee sauce was one of the best I’ve had.

We also had a chocolate chilli cheesecake with ice cream – not in my top ten choices of dessert, to be honest – but I’m assured that it was as good as anything on the menu.

The chocolate was still the dominant ingredient, but the added sensation of the chilli was enough to make a positive impactat least according to my friend. My take personally is not to mix chilli and chocolate in the first place!

For an early Friday night in January, there was enough people passing through, and while the staff are keen to ensure Annies is about the food and not Jennie’s celebrity, her table visits are not intrusive and add to a good evening.

Post-meal, we both headed back to the bar seats for one or two more drinks in superb comfort, while live swing singer Hayley Smith provided entertainment.

Whether in winter or summer (often the same thing in the UK), Annies is a perfect destination, with good, affordable food and superb surroundings.

To book a table, call 0161 839 4423, or email at: bookings@anniesmanchester.co.uk, and visit their website at www.anniesmanchester.co.uk

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