‘Hispi’, besides being a bugger to type without being autocorrected to ‘hips’, ‘hippo’, or ‘hippy’, is a cabbage more commonly known as a ‘sweetheart cabbage’, which, admittedly, is something I had to Google before we paid a visit (our first) to the mighty bistro that is Hispi, from Gary Usher, of the acclaimed Sticky Walnut and Burnt Truffle.
I’d been after a reason to visit, and so last night, we headed just out of Manchester, to Didsbury, to have dinner with our friends who are newly engaged and busy planning their wedding, as well as being in the middle of renovating their 1930’s house, so we had lots to celebrate and discuss.
We were among the first to arrive for dinner but by 7, the bistro was bustling and the atmosphere, food, drinks and company made for a great night.
Being early, and already hungry when we arrived, we ordered appetisers to share: fresh bread and butter, and crisp beer battered salt pickles with parsley and a tangy tarragon mayo. That was a good move. They appeased our taste buds in all the ways you’d hope, and left us ready for more.
You’ll soon figure out that I don’t order fish (over meat) very often, but I was craving something light and fresh after the battered pickles, and the poached hake with fennel and parsley salad, pickled apple (I need to make some of this) and celery sauce, with a glass of the featured white wine, Verdelho from Australia, that had hints of sweet melon and lychee, was exactly what I wanted. And, it was everything I’d hoped for: just a little bit sweet, delicate and cleansing.
For mains, I ordered the pan roast venison loin that was served with a deliciously crisp and sweet pear tart fine, kale ragu and a deep and satisfyingly sticky confit shallot sauce.
I added chips too, because who doesn’t want hand cut truffle and parmesan chips when they’re on the menu? Naturally, I scoffed the lot using the chips to mop up every last bit of that sauce. Oh, THAT sauce.
Dark chocolate cake and beer ice cream beckoned to me for dessert. Chocolate cake is always a gamble, don’t you think? It’s a hard thing to do well, to make sure it’s not too dry, or sickly sweet. Since everything I’d eaten so far had been so god damn good, and, it came with beer ice cream, I was up for a punt.
This dish, this firm and slightly sticky cake loaded with dark chocolate chunks, befriended by toasted honey oats and a hazelnut butter so comforting it could put me to bed, is the dish I’ll go back to Hispi for again and again and again, because, simply put, it was perfect. PERFECT.
Dinner came in at around £65 each, including wine, which felt completely reasonable considering the quality but, if you’re on a tight budget, don’t be put off: early diners (Mon-Thurs) can have three courses and a glass of wine for £18, which is incredible value for money and makes me wonder, why am I even bothering to cook?
1C School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6RD