Watching Simon Rimmer and Tim Lovejoy lark around on Channel 4’s ‘Sunday Brunch’ has become a weekend ritual of mine. Simon always seems to cook up a storm on the show (either that, or the various guests have been practicing their ‘yummy faces’), so I was keen to try his food for myself. Simon and Simon [Connolly, co-owner] opened Greens Restaurant in Greater Manchester’s restaurant-packed West Didsbury back in 1990 and it was an instant hit, described as one of the most exciting new restaurants in the UK by The Guardian. With minimal culinary experience behind them, the two Simon’s created an exciting menu, and Greens became a pioneer of contemporary vegetarian cuisine. At a time when, in my opinion, affordable (for a student such as myself) meat is scarce, I have been cooking more and more vegetarian dishes, and I have come to love the variety of colours and flavours that vegetables can bring to a dish. So what better place to get a little culinary inspiration.
Greens is always bustling with the weekend crowd, and as you sweep in through the heavy velvet drapes, you are met by the deafening clamour of enthusiastic diners. There is a great ambiance, but a few soft furnishings to absorb some of the noise wouldn’t go amiss. The menu here changes frequently, bringing in seasonal flavours each month. However, its basis remains fairly uniform, comprising of a curry, pasta dish, pie, sausage and mash and some variation of stew or cassoulet. The menu spans all cuisines; choose between British, Italian, Greek, Thai and Indian amongst others. Starters and desserts pair well with the mains so you can construct yourself a polished three-course meal.
Designated drivers often miss out on the fun, sipping iced water while their friends enjoy a tasty cocktail. Well, not at Greens. They offer a great selection of non-alcoholic cocktails, some of which are very similar to your bar favourites. The mint, ginger and lime drink captures the vibrant flavours of a Mojito, while the strawberry and lime blend conjured images of a Caribbean sundown.
Greens’ light starters whet the appetite and promote quality and interesting flavour combinations over quantity. The roasted plum and buffalo mozzarella dish executed ‘sweet as a savoury’ with absolute class, pairing sweet plums and creamy mozzarella with an intensely flavoured plum reduction, nutty hazelnut and peppery rocket to offset the sweet. The artsy arrangement made it a painting on the plate.
The cauliflower cake was a cross between a Spanish tortilla and an omelette, with chunks of roasted cauliflower, a golden crust, plenty of seasoning and a sprinkling of the much underused dill. The delicate slithers of cucumber and radish were pleasingly refreshing, and a drizzle of grain mustard vinaigrette added some sweetness and intensity to the plate.
This month’s gnocchi dish baffled my tastebuds. I couldn’t quite believe that their was no meat in the rich and full-bodied ragù. The texture of soft truffled gnocchi, meaty chestnut mushrooms, melting ribbons on Parmesan and fresh watercress kept each bite interesting.
A massamam curry was this month’s curry of choice, with cubes of roasted sweet potato, green beans, peas, red peppers and fresh coriander peeking out from the surface of the warming coconut spiced sauce. The curry was accompanied by a tomato, cucumber and red onion kachumber-style salad, and pilau rice. Sensational flavours, but a little tricky to mix the rice and curry—were you supposed to tip the curry onto the parchment paper that lined the tin tray?
The mains were fairly rich, therefore one dessert between two rounded the meal ideally. The custard tart was silky and light, laced with vanilla and nutmeg and set in a buttery pastry crust. The ‘apple crumble’ accompaniment had a toothsome sweet apple compote with crunchy apple, however, the teeth-shattering crumble I could have done without.
Come to Greens to try something new, get your five a day and soak up the weekend excitement. You’ll be ideally located to move on to one of West Didsbury’s bars or pubs to continue your evening. Or reverse that plan and head to Greens for a hearty hangover banishing Sunday lunch with a generous slice of nut roast, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. I’ll definitely be making a date in my diary for this!
41-43 Lapwing Lane
T: 0161 434 4259