HERE at ToM we love a dish with a good backstory. The name of what may become the Edinburgh Castle’s signature plateful is enticing enough: ‘Bees Wax Aged Beef with Onions Tomatoes, Bone Marrow and Oxtail.’ Intriguingly it owes its genesis to exec chef Julian Pizer’s 102-year-old granddad, whose last utterance warned against him creating delicate dishes garnished with flowers.
Beef with onions and tomatoes was the old man’s favourite meal back in their native New Zealand and this homage. Globetrotting Julian was born in the surf town of Raglan and grew up in Wellington. It has been a long road to the Ancoats pub derelict for three decades and now given a sumptuous new lease of life by Nick Muir and the Cottonopolis team.
Their mission statement is to create a ‘proper boozer with a proper pint’ downstairs while the 36-cover upstairs dining space (above) will give full rein to Julian’s culinary creativity. Judging by the rabbit canapes that came out on the launch night he’s not afraid to stray off the pub food template.
Operation manager Gethin Jones showed us around. The restaurant, due to open by the end of November is mercifully free of industrial clutter, built on simple design lines (we particularly love the bespoke Rebecca Morris pottery).
The downstairs is split into two areas, with a small bar in the front of the building and a saloon bar in the back, with lots of mirrors and a framed map of the old Ancoats. The walls are textured green and there’s lots of antiquey stuff. It feels far more like a pub than other 21st century tilts at it such as the Abel Heywood or The Bay Horse.
Yet it also boasts a strong design-led identity of its own. Artist and tattooist Gre Hale has designed menus and wallpaper and the signage outside, re-working the old pub sign using the dominant typeface of Ancoats’ industrial past – hand-painted in 24 ct gold by street artist and designer Lei-mai.
One slight disappointment, just the two handpumps for cask beer, albeit one was dispensing well-kept Northern Monk ‘Don’t Mess With Manchester’. Real ale diehards may decide to stick to the nearby Crown and Kettle and Smithfield Tavern. Whisky lovers may well gravitate to the Edinburgh Castle snug – cocktail guru Gethin has real affinity for the single malt.
Nick Muir told us: “We hope to be a welcome addition to Ancoats. The Edinburgh Castle pub has been popular and serving locals for centuries and we can’t wait to add our stamp on its legacy. We look forward to becoming a part of this wonderful neighbourhood and will ensure we give the area, our neighbours and visitors what they want – a quality place to eat and drink and a stylish twist on traditional with exceptional standards.”
Edinburgh Castle Ancoats, Blossom Street, Manchester M4 5DH. Open Sun-Thu 10am-11pm, Fri-Sat 10am-12pm.