After close to two decades in the doldrums, Salford’s Black Friar pub has risen like a phoenix from the ashes to become nothing short of a sensation. And, with every single penny of its colossal £1.4m restoration on display, it’s easy to see why its popularity has skyrocketed with locals just months after its relaunch. This ain’t your average local boozer.
The original Grade II-listed building is still intact in all of its red brick glory from 1886, whilst the all-new glass extension with its trendy black and white tiled floor makes for an attractive and ultra-modern dining area. It’s a great juxtaposition next to the more traditional section of the pub, which is equally as beautiful with its charming throwback aesthetics.
The adjoining beer garden is also a vision, awash with lush green shrubs and tea lights giving the whole place a touch of a Mediterranean vibe. Not bad for a venue that has survived a fire and the threat of a local bypass that ripped through nearby old Salford.
The staff were also a delight, good-humoured and full of knowledge about the venue and the food and drink on offer. We were lucky enough to arrive on a rain-free evening (a rarity in Manchester of course) and took advantage by nabbing a table in the rather handsome beer garden.
By day, the Black Friar serves up an array of posh pub classics mixed with a bit of modern flair. Think Boddington’s Beer Battered Fish, hearty pies with gravy and mash, and Crispy Tempura Squid. The evening menu (served from 6 pm Mon-Sat) takes the well-trodden gastropub concept and shakes it up.
The Juniper Cured Creedy Carver Duck Breast starter with roast cherry and pickled kohlrabi zings with flavour, whilst the meat itself was possibly the best duck I’ve dined on. Other inspired options include Cornish Crab Boudin with basil jelly and smoked dehydrated watermelon and a White Port Poached Confit Chicken Terrine.
Wines range from £24 to an eye-watering £780, however, the modestly priced Morande Merlot from Chile proved to be more than quaffable, complementing both our starters and mains. The Roast Cumbrian Lamb Rack arrived beautifully presented and served with glazed baby aubergine, kalamata olive and confit tomato jus.
This bold and imaginative take on a classic dish floored me with its unique flavour profile, quite unlike anything I’ve tasted before. The lamb quite literally melted in my mouth like a snowflake, and was perfectly complemented with the sharp yet fruity flavour of the olives. The kind of dish you want to try to recreate at home, knowing you’ll ultimately fail. Faultless.
The succulent Iberico Pork Fillet is another surefire crowd-pleaser, served with chorizo, peas, broad beans and wholegrain mustard jus. Another triumphant dish that you won’t forget in a hurry. Sides too are anything but an afterthought, with such delights as Tender Steam Broccoli with toasted almonds and lemon butter and Truffle Fries with Parmesan.
An inspired dessert drinks menu makes for the perfect choice if, like us, you’ve perhaps eaten a little too much. The Collar Espresso Martini with its combination of espresso and chocolate orange liquors comes highly recommended.
The reimagined Black Friar is a wonderfully warm and welcoming gastropub that deserves to become a hit with more than just locals. Just a ten-minute walk from the Deansgate strip, it’s the ideal date night destination, serving up an assortment of culinary delights you simply won’t find elsewhere.
Add to this a venue that is nothing short of a design snobs dream, and you’ve got a place that puts the newly developed Salford firmly on the foodie map.
The Black Friar, 41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Salford, M3 7DB. Tel 0161 667 9555.