The suburbs of a city can throw up some fantastic gems when it comes to the bar scene. Here in Manchester, we are fortunate to have the likes of Hale, Didsbury, Chorlton and Worsley amongst others, surrounding the city centre, and all within easy reach. Living in the south, i’ve frequented the likes of Chorlton and Didsbury a fair bit, but the northern town of Prestwich has always alluded me.
An invite to check out one of the up and coming names on the scene, Cuckoo, is always a delight, and the timing could not have been better – I was in need of a place to lunch.
Cuckoo can be found on the main road through Prestwich, within an exposed brick building complete with hanging bare bulbs. The scattered layout of the wooden tables feels more cafe than restaurant, especially with the soft music, and the leather sofas overlooking the street offers the just drinkers crowd a comfy option. Downstairs, a spacious snug named the Library Corner looks perfect for that quite drink or first date nerves, whilst its secret door leads to, well, you’ll have to experience that for yourself. Myself though went for a small table next to the open fireplace.
A menu that includes headings such as ‘Grid Iron Sandwiches’, ‘Sliders’ or ‘Three Good Things Sharing Platter‘, means that for someone who eats out regularly, this is an intriguing menu. With options such as barbecue pulled pork sliders (£4.50), MT chef salad complete with lettuce, watercress, warm caramelised pears, blacksticks blue cheese, toasted walnuts and wholegrain honey and mustard dressing (£5.25) or the meat board (£8) where you can choose three between chorizo, pastrami, Serrano, roast beef, green pepper pastrami and oak smoked ham, for lunch, this turned out to be a very hard decision.
In the end, the Homemade Aberdeen Angus Beef with added cheese (£5.10 overall) from the ‘Sliders’ menu came the recommended choice, complete with one of my favourite dishes, sweet potato fries (£2.50). Whilst waiting, I asked my server for gin and tonic, with whatever her recommendation on the gin. After perusing the bar on my way in, the likes of Warner Edwards, King of Soho, Hendrick’s and Tanqueray 10 stand out to you, but it was Portobello Road that got the nod in the end.
Served with a side of sauce, the freshness of the beef came through on the first bite. Juicy, thick, hot, and not overloaded with salad garnish, it’s perfect. The cheese had been melted nicely on top, and again didn’t over-bare the flavours as some restaurants can do with these ‘added toppings’. The sweet potato fries looked to be home-cut too, served within a navy sailors mug. A good portion, and complimented the three burgers nicely. For lunch, it’s a good portion, and didn’t leave me wishing I had ordered something bigger. It was a good answer to have though, as it meant I could divulge in a desert from their ‘Sweet Treats’ blackboard.
Complete with a cookie syrup based cappuccino, I opted for the home-baked cookie, complete with chocolate chips within. Light, plenty of flavours and a good size to finish off lunch.
With a small, yet impressive back bar, I thought I’d finish my visit with a cocktail. Well, I actually enjoyed a rather exclusive offering, as Cuckoo had just finished their new menu to launch in May, and made me a creation that would be appearing. I wouldn’t want to give it away, so make sure you check back when I cover the launch in a few weeks time!
In the meantime though, a fully stocked bar has many a delight to entice you, including a small but good selection of wine (the New Zealand and Chilean offerings sound great!), as well as beers and ciders including Estrella Damm, Alhambra Reserva and US stalwarts Samuel Adamns and Brooklyn Lager. Cask conditioned options are also a speciality, with Brightside Brewery offering some of their expressions, as well as Cuckoo’s own brew from Prestwich based Five-oh Brew Company, which during my visit, came with the batch named Chipotle Black IPA! Cocktails are also available, with many of the classics to be found, using the likes of Chase, Wild Turkey, Diplomatico and Warner Edwards.
Going off what I mentioned above, the drinks are well worth a check out. The cocktails especially are expertly created, and the new menu will be one to watch out for. I say this for the fact that Susie Wong, Manchester based bartender and consultant, has been on board with Cuckoo to develop their offerings, and part with some of her wisdom from the trade, as well as being hot off the heels from the launch of her menu at The Violet Hour, another suburb venue in Didsbury.
Susie’s recommendations on both the food and drinks that I enjoyed were spot on, and couldn’t fault her service either. You can tell when someone takes pride in their work, and to be honest, Susie is one of them.
I’m looking forward to returning to Cuckoo in May to experience the rest of Susie’s cocktail creations. To be fair, the food alone is a reason to head out of the city too. Spot on.
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