I'd read a lot about the infamous Mark Addy, headed by Robert Owen Brown and his take on the 'nose to tail' concept heralded by St John. Unfortunately it closed early in 2014, shortly after I arrived in Manchester so I never had time to visit but it's always spoken of very highly (foodwise at least).
My expectations were understandably therefore high and foolishly on my part I didn't check the full menu that'd been posted online before heading in for dinner. Unfortunately, it really is the very definition of safe - burgers, steaks, pie, hot pot, chicken breast, a couple of salads, with only the rabbit offering anything vaguely out of the ordinary. Where is all this adventurous fare Rob is supposedly famous for? My browse of the printed menu was pleasantly serenaded by a workman started drilling into the ceiling in the back of the restaurant. Not even the sniff of an apology from the serving staff for this as he continued to go for it several times while we were in there. I wouldn't even invite you round for a brew and piece of cake in the flat if I had a workman in drilling into walls let alone expecting me not to mind while I pay for dinner in a restaurant filled with paying customers. Farcical really, just utterly amateurish and embarrassing.
"Baked Whitby Crab"
Paprika spiced baked crab with double cream and leeks
I expected the topping here to be crisped up but it was breadcrumbs on top of a thick rich creamy mix of blitzed crab, double cream, leek and paprika. The warmth and flavour of the paprika took the lead and absolutely dominated the flavour which was initially unpleasant, I ordered crab expecting a light delicate dish and instead got a rich spicy sauce with a hint of crab flavour.
"Beetroot and Goat's Cheese"
This was on the early evening set menu as a starter but I'm calling bullshit on this being offered as a starter, I mean - look at the size of it. It was totally fine, it was a few wafer thin slices of beetroot on a bed of fennel and with a Subbuteo sized crispy goats cheese ball.
"Fish and Chips"
This was the best dish by some distance, the chips were exceptionally cooked and very crispy just as I prefer them, the haddock was soft and light with a perfect batter crust and the sides of peas and tartare sauce were chunky and satisfying. Once I'd lashed salt and vinegar all over the fish and chips things were going really well.
"Steak and Ale Pie"
The pie itself was very good, a substantial crust of salty flaky pastry on top of the pan very heavily loaded with juicy tender beef and a rich gravy sauce. The dish itself came accompanied with a dollop of mash which half sat on a napkin leaving me utterly confused about what the gravy jug was for, was I supposed to do try and pull the napkin out from under the potato or just lash the gravy over the napkin and hope not to end up with a mouthful of tissue paper? The mange tout served on top of the potato looked like something one of the contestants would do to improve their 'presentation' during the first round of Masterchef. The final insult was they use Dobber beer in the pie filling but couldn't make room between the Birra Moretti and Guinness for it behind the bar.
I went with the 3 bite sized Eccles cakes with a slice of Lancashire Cheese for dessert. Pastry was spot on for an Eccles cake and they were sufficiently stuffed with fruit filling but they'd clearly been slid into the oven before serving (despite taking 20+ minutes to arrive) and so were slightly warm on the outside but with a stone cold centre. They should've just been served hot or cold, this weird mid-ground wasn't good at all.
Service was polite but not particularly effective, basics like the table not being cleaned down despite being visibly covered in crumbs weren't dealt with. As I mention above, the Eccles cakes went AWOL and had to be chased up after 20 minutes waiting. The final dose of comedy was the highly audible noise of the drains emptying directly above our table every time someone went to the loo.
You could argue it's early days with the new menu only being on a week but Rosylee has been there for years with presumably the same serving staff and if the kitchen staff aren't up to speed yet then deep discounts should still be being offered until they're at a decent level.
There were stories about this 'concept' being rolled out to other cities after Manchester "Venues are currently being looked at in Leeds and York" apparently which is totally baffling to me, though if the concept they're going for is "good but not great" pub food then they've absolutely nailed it. I honestly couldn't tell you what hole Rosylee fills or what really sets it apart from 100 pubs across the North of England serving very similar food.
Maybe I'd set my expectations a bit too high but honestly this was massively disappointing and I wouldn't bother going back unless some more interesting menu options appear in the future to tempt me back.