My first experience of Beastro was a pop up in Albert’s Square providing hearty street food to hungry masses at a cycling event. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was looking forward to testing out their offerings in a less rough and ready format. And you don’t get less rough and ready than Spinningfields in Manchester; great steel and glass structures loom, flanked at their feet by trendy bars, restaurants, and luxury shops, all hovered over by the cranes raising the skyline ever upwards. Beastro wouldn’t be out of place in Manchester’s great hipster playground, The Northern Quarter, everything from the open hot plate to the paired down menu would be met with approval from the bearded brigade. The decor is modern and simple with flashes of bronze and twinkling fairy lights. It’s cosy with the open kitchen creating a wall of heat and drool-inducing smells as you open the door.
One big takeaway from Beastro is simply the passion and commitment from the staff. The unrehearsed ease and genuine desire to talk about the food and drinks menus really added to our experience. As a customer you’re invited to be part of the dream and invest in their vision of tasty, locally sourced, and ethical food. Unfortunately, we arrived at an awkward time – just before they were about to launch their new christmas menu so a few of our drinks choices were not available but they were really accommodating and offered excellent substitutions. We had the opportunity to talk with the owner about Beastro’s ascent from street food and pop-ups to settling down in their current location. The lunch menu is much closer to Beastro’s roots than the dinner and they certainly sold me on popping in later this week to check out the “Bestive Fake”.
For starters I had Lancashire grown mushrooms served four ways. The mushrooms were sweet and earthy with the seasoning perfectly bringing out the deep flavour. The homemade crumpet was generously sized and spongey: a perfect base which kept the mushrooms star of the show. I loved how the tang of the ketchup cut through and lightened the mushrooms. My partner plumped for the duck and orange pate which was rich and smooth which contrasted with the sweet n sour roasted pear chutney. Go easy on the chutney or it can take over the more subtle flavour of the pate. The artisan toast was unpretentious and came in a cute toast rack serve.
For my partner’s main course, true to form, he went for the Beastro steak burger. If there’s a burger on the menu he will have it. It was well cooked, although ask for it medium if you prefer it a bit pink. The toasted brioches held well against the juiciness of the burger and salad and the signature sauce brought out the flavour of the beef and would have made a nice dip for the chips. The chips (bonus points for coming free with the burger) were excellent the triple cooking with beef dripping made these skin on chips perfectly crisp with exactly the right amount of salt.
For my main, I opted for the pearl barley risotto and it didn’t disappoint. The pearl barley had a firm texture and held the flavour of the dish well, while my partner’s shredded ox cheek was soft with a gamey flavour broken up by the sweetness of the beetroot. The risotto didn’t succumb to stodginess but was filling nonetheless.
As a side we shared the bacon cauliflower cheese to get that homely comfort food feel we needed on a drizzly Thursday night. The salty bacon hits your tastebuds first then the freshness of cauliflower comes through – all this covered by gooey melted cheese made me regret not getting one all to myself.
Rounding up with dessert, I chose the chocolate fondant tart which was beautiful to look at as well as expertly cooked. Fondant can be a balancing act but Beastro executed it perfectly: crisp pastry which held its shape and the rich gooey fondant felt luxurious as the ice cream melted over it. Ever the adventurer, my dining buddy went for the signature sticky toffee pudding, and I quote it was ‘up there with the best sticky toffee pudding I’ve ever had’. Needless to say I wasn’t allowed to taste any, so can’t add much more to that!
The drinks menu was on the brink of being replaced so we were a bit limited, however they very kindly offered me the Touraine Gamay-Malbec by the glass which made up for it. The Malbec paired well with both my starter and main course – punchy red berry flavours which justifies the ‘fresh and fruity’ title. I moved on to a Manchester Three Rivers gin served with standard tonic and gin soaked apricots. The overall effect was of a bright, delicate, slightly sweet drink which showed of the subtlety of the botanicals. As a nightcap, I had a Beasty Old fashioned, and it was a great contrast to the gin. Citrusy and warm it catches your throat and warmed me up before we headed out into the damp night.
My partner started with a Wild Beer millionaire. He described it as ‘root beery‘ with delicious biscuity and caramel tones without becoming too sweet. It’s definitely one we’ll stocking up on for Christmas. He then had a Small Packages instead of the Hoi Polloi which had sold out which was sharp, citrusy and refreshing. As he had work in the morning he finished with a latte; Beastro use local ‘Ancoats Coffee Company’ coffee, simply served and with a smooth flavour.
I love to support independents who are offering something unique and thoughtful as well as caring about the whole local supply chain, so I will definitely be back. If you work in Manchester City centre you have to check Beastro out, we got a peek at the Christmas menu and it looks perfect for lining your stomach before disgracing yourself on the work night out!