Opening early this year Fress is one of several new spots emerging more towards the Ancoats end of Oldham Street, knitting together nicely the Northern Quarter and the afore mentioned ‘hippest’ neighbourhood in town.
An independent venture, Fress have transformed an old newsagent beyond recognition into a stylish café come daytime and elegant brasserie/bar of an evening. The interiors are definitely the first thing to grab your attention, teal leather covers soft furnishings and the big bench stretching the length of the room whilst the rest is tiled top to toe. It’s a classic French brasserie meets NY meets NQ hybrid of both. It looks like our sort of place.
Like most, we’ve stopped by since the guys opened for coffee and brunch at the weekend but we were keen to get involved of an evening and see what was going on away from the homemade highly Instgramable cakes.
We kick off with the obligatory ‘Marinated Olives’ for the table and a portion of ‘Grilled Octopus’, particularly good dipped in the accompanying Roquito pepper sauce to inject a bit of heat. Fancying a bottle of white our waiter recommends ‘Les Vignerons Colombard Vermentino’, a light & fresh glass with a hint of apple (which goes really well with what’s to come).
Next we order one small plate to arrive as it is ready and two large plates as mains. The ‘Tiger Prawns’ with chorizo and chilli with a slice of toasted sourdough provide the perfect stopgap and bridge the smaller sort of tapas style options to the main courses that Fress also have to offer. Don’t be put off by getting your fingers dirty and making a bit of a mess, shell on prawns are full of flavour and you get more for your money! The sourdough gives the first clue to the homemade breads and pastries at this place and is a more than welcome tool to mop up all that chorizo butter, chilli & prawn.
New to the menu there’s a paella and the one we go for; ‘Gnocchi & Roasted Squash’. Again it’s homemade and the squash works well together with the truffle oil and Parmesan. We’re definitely getting ready for the winter months and indulging more and more in stick to your ribs big flavours so the ‘Crispy Pork Belly’ is getting got. BIG fan of this dish, the salt from the pork and the cabbage reproduce a classic combination perfectly.
After dinner there’s no excuse to not have a pudd at Fress. The waitress informs us there’s only one ‘Cronut’ left (and we’re not surprised) so accompanied by a digestif of ‘Penicillin’ (whisky based cocktail) and a boozy banana-y milkshake option it’s cocktail and cake time! We highly recommend this combination.
Service was really quick and helpful both on a busy Saturday brunch sitting and, as it happened, a quieter Sunday evening service for the small & large plates. The fact these guys are offering a proper spectrum of dishes, desserts and drinks all made in-house deserves commendation.
Other noteworthy mentions – their breads etc. can be bought to go so you can do coffees and cakes at work midweek or go for brunch & pick up a loaf before heading back to bed on a weekend. There’s a little garden towards the rear which we’re yet to check out (and kinda reluctant to mention in case it’s amazing and a potential hidden gem for us to enjoy in peace).
By all means keep drooling over their Instagram and get your avocado fix in the a.m. but do yourself a favour and visit after lunch and drink in the décor with a bottle of something and a couple of plates. You won’t regret it. www.fressrestaurant.com
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