The perfect opportunity for us to visit Mud Crab arose at the beginning of December as we were going to see a preview screening of Seven Psychopaths with the lovely Rob and Kat. We decided to pop in for a post-movie meal and Bailey had already emailed the manager who had been very nice and sent us a copy of their menu.
I had previously seen the folk at Mud Crab tweeting about their top notch mulled wine so mulled wine lovers Kat and I decided to go for one of these each. The mulled wine was great and I think came in at second place in my Manchester Mulled Wine Mega List (just behind Soup Kitchen - although full of bits of cinnamon stick theirs is the booziest and most warming mulled wine I've had this year, although Kat actually said of Mud Crab's "Ooh this is better than Soup Kitchen's" so there you go!)
As we began to peruse the rather intriguing menu (think of a menu you'd expect from a fancy American diner, which had then been gatecrashed by a few Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours) everyone faced some gut-wrenching decisions. Mud Crab's menu is so full of delicious sounding treats - particularly for the meat lovers - that you find yourself thinking there are too many dishes you are dying to try and the only way to fit them all in will be on a return visit. I know both Bailey and Rob were both struggling to choose between a couple of different options!
I was really torn between the Crab Tartlette and the Kumara Sweet Potato Frittata starters but eventually settled for the Frittata and what a choice this was! I was never expecting to be presented with such a beautiful board of food - I loved seeing my frittata in the little frying pan with such an appetising salad. The fritatta was light, perfectly oily and smooth with a lovely smoky flavour, complemented perfectly by the crunchy salad and crispy shallots. The refreshing, yogurty tahini dressing tied everything together perfectly. I absolutely loved this and honestly spent most of the next day thinking about it.
However, it wasn't just my starter that was beautifully presented - our little table was like a colourful feast for the eyes. Both Bailey and Rob's starters came in a little Chinese takeaway box (like in the movies) which I was so jealous of. Bailey was very impressed by his choice of Grinch Wine Bar Special Fried Chicken - super crunchy chicken in a peppery, almost spicy batter served with a plummy, sweet and tangy barbecue dip. His only quibble was that he would have liked more dip.
Onto the mains and Bailey had really struggled to choose between the Pulled Pork Burger and the Calzone. In the end he chose the Calzone which was deliciously sweet and indulgent but Bailey felt lacking in crunch - possibly a few more moments in the oven would have helped. Like the other dishes, it looked brilliant but I know he did get a bit of meal envy of Kat who had ordered the burger which looked amazing and was served with the most fabulous of super salty, super spicy, super crispy fries. Drool.
Despite also having faced a difficult menu choice, Rob had eventually decided to go with his "gut instinct" and order the Slow Cooked Beef Brisket Chilli which looked brilliant- I was very interested in what looked like the crispiest of 'Home Style' cornbread. Rob was very pleased with his choice and thoroughly enjoyed his chilli.
My choice of main was relatively simple - by not being a meat eater my choices were (luckily) more limited, I was in the mood for something hearty to warm me up on a cold wintry evening and therefore had ordered the Aubergine and Puy Lentil Cottage Pie. After the meal Rob said he felt a bit sorry for me when my main arrived as it didn't have as much wow factor as the others but it made up for this in deliciousness. The mash was creamy and cheesy and the filling packed full of flavour. Great stuff.
After all this good food we couldn't resist dessert, although I was quite good and decided to share with Bailey and try out a cup of Fallen Angel decaf coffee which was perfectly pleasant. Bailey chose the Pear and Frangipane Tart which was pretty good but not quite as exciting as the other food we'd eaten - nicely presented with good pastry but a bit too dry - we could have done with more sauce.
Rob and Kat were both pleased with their desserts - Rob very much enjoyed the Home Made Oreos with Peanut Butter Milk while Kat had the Baked Alaska and very kindly gave me quite a few tastes - we both liked the little bits of crunchy cookie crumb which were mixed up with the strawberry and ice cream filling.
So the food at Mud Crab had been really good and the restaurant's atsmosphere was perfect - although quiet, there is nothing quite like sharing the good company of great friends like Rob and Kat in a relaxed environment. However, there was one low point about the meal which didn't particularly mar our experience, but was a bit of a disappointment. Less than a week earlier we had paid our first visit to The Beagle and had experienced such excellent service so we were definitely comparing Mud Crab to that. Unfortunately we felt the service really let Mud Crab down - the waiting staff seemed quite disinterested and there were never any checkbacks on food, empty glasses weren't cleared up and we weren't offered any drinks. I know reading that you may ask why we didn't just get someone's attention to ask for more drinks but it felt like if the waiters weren't bringing our food over (I find when delicious food arrives at the table you are distracted and forget to ask for another drink which is why I always appreciate being asked!), they were nowhere to be seen. We spent considerable amounts of time with dirty plates in front of us, we had to pretty much wave a waiter down for our dessert order to be taken and during the long wait for our payment to be taken, someone pointed out that we could genuinely have walked out without paying and no one would have noticed. Tom and Heather, who have now been in twice on busy Saturdays, said they'd always received good service so we concluded that perhaps that as it was quiet, the waiting staff had been given too many jobs to do - one waiter spent a good portion of the evening polishing cutlery with his back turned to us.