*All prices correct on 29/04/18. We were invited to dine at The Midland FOC, however, all opinions are my ownI‘m always up for trying foodie places that aren’t already on my radar so when I was recently invited to try out the new lunch menu at The Midland in Marple Bridge, Stockport, I happily obliged. Located approximately 40 minutes south-east of Manchester city centre by car, it’s hard to believe that this quaint little village isn’t much further afield, with its greenery, postcard-perfect shops and the River Goty proudly running beneath the picturesque bridge.
With Adam as my date, we arrived in the village at around 2pm on a Saturday afternoon and, after circling for while, managed to find a spot to park opposite Brabyns Park in the public car park, just next to The Midland (the pub car park was already full). I was surprised at just how busy Marple Bridge was for such a small place, however, it’s a good indication of its popularity.
Inside The Midland, we waited at the bar for a few moments before being directed up to the dining area (which we failed to spot upon our arrival – I’m not very observant). Adam and I were then shown to our table which was right by the window and overlooking the river. As we sat down, we both commented on how big and comfy the chairs were.
The lunch menu was extensive and each of the dishes had detailed descriptions. During the week, The Midland offers two courses for £12.50 or three for £15.50 from a fixed menu, which is more than reasonable and especially handy if you really don’t feel like cooking by the time Wednesday rolls around.
I’ll share an unpopular opinion with you now: I don’t particularly like ‘pub grub’. While Adam enjoys a good old Sunday roast in the local when he gets chance, I find traditional British pub food incredibly bland and avoid it as much as possible. Maybe I’ve simply had one too many plates of soggy, overcooked veg and dry beef served in generic chain restaurants over the years.
The Midland lunch menu was not what I expected. Featuring dishes such as chargrilled lamb and balsamic koftas with lavash bread, harissa hummus, tzatziki, kale and cauliflower couscous salad with a pineapple, lemongrass and ginger dressing, the options available were far from the usual dreary fayre! They also have a dedicated vegan menu which is a refreshing change for those usually restricted to one or two offerings from the main menu.
The drinks menu was equally as impressive, with a whole two pages of gin to choose from (£7.95 – £8.95 per G&T). The non-alcoholic offerings were also great, with ‘softails’ featuring fruity concoctions and even my personal favourite, Seedlip (£4.95), which is the worlds first distilled non-alcoholic spirit and surprisingly hard to find in many bars.
Being a big fan of seafood means that Adam has tried plenty of squid whilst dining out and rated this one pretty highly. This was seasoned well without too much heat from the Szechan pepper and the aioli was loaded with plenty of garlic.
Soup of the day with artisan rustic bread and butter – £4.95
This was carrot and coriander on our visit. A good sized portion for a starter and was a nice, thick soup with plenty of flavour. My only slight issue was that it was quite heavy on the black pepper so left a real kick/aftertaste. I’m not a big fan of the stuff so ended up leaving it halfway through.
Homemade British beef burger with smoked Irish Cheddar, mustard mayonnaise, relish and fries – £12.50
Adam chose to add chorizo (£1.50), bacon (£1.50) and halloumi (£2.25) to his standard burger. The burger itself was chargrilled and, according to Adam, didn’t taste of ‘cheap meat. The skin-on fries had a crispy outer while staying fluffy inside.
Battered halloumi with twice-cooked chunky chips, minted pea purée and tartare sauce – £11.50
Halloumi is something that I love yet have only ever had it grilled before so this caught my eye. The batter was just right; not too heavy or greasy. The halloumi stayed firm and was mellow. The minted pea puree was such a simple thing yet it worked so well with the chunky chips and gave a touch of freshness and colour to the dish overall.
Baked Sicilian lemon cheesecake with British blackcurrant curd – £6.50
Everything you’ll expect from a good cheesecake; light, creamy and the lemon hit was just enough. The blackcurrant curd was sweet yet sharp, complimenting the citrusy flavour of the cheesecake.
Melting golden chocolate orange bomb with praline ice cream, chocolate popping candy, hot Belgian chocolate sauce – £7.95
Perfect for sharing on Instagram, this interactive dessert was made up of praline ice cream encased in a hollow chocolate sphere and surrounded by popping candy. As you pour on the hot chocolate sauce (which arrived in a separate vessel), the sphere melts and reveals the ice cream. This was great fun! I found it all a little bit rich after a few mouthfuls but it’s a good choice for those with a sweet tooth.
The decor was cosy and modern and the clientele ranged from groups of friends to young families. Adam and I ended up staying at The Midland for well over two hours with absolutely no pressure to hurry, despite it being rather busy. All of the staff we spoke to were attentive and cheerful. A great way to spend a relaxed Saturday afternoon!