If you needed a reason to escape the Manchester city centre, I think I’ve found you one. Tucked away in the market town of Ramsbottom, north of Manchester, is a neighbourhood eatery that’s definitely worth venturing out of the metropolis for. Colleen’s, which has now been open in the town for one year, has already left a great impression on both locals and diners from afar thanks to its cosy interior, friendly staff and of course delightful food– so good, it left us contently waddling out the door.
Owned by husband-and-wife team Thomas and Ellen Morgan and named after Thomas’ late Grandma, Colleen’s welcomes everyone from foodies to walkers (and their dogs) and families to those enjoying a special occasion. Colleen’s offers a variety of menus, with a brunch menu on weekends, a Sunday lunch menu and a lunch and à la carte menu from Wednesday to Saturday, of which we tried.
The contemporary British menu at Colleen’s celebrates local produce, with meat from Penny’s in Accrington, fish from Bury Market and bread from Zafroz, a micro-bakery in Burnley. What makes Colleen’s stand out from other restaurants is that the à la carte menu changes depending on the availability and seasonality of produce. You won’t always find a menu online, mainly posted outside their premises for passers-by or you can always call to ask, plus it offers uniqueness in that each visit might mean you’ll be eating something both fresh and different.
The food at Colleen’s
We began our meal with drinks accompanied by sourdough bread from Zafroz bakery served with plenty of butter to spread across the slices. Sometimes the simplest of things can be some of the tastiest and the bread and butter at Colleen’s was exactly that. So delicious we held onto a slice in case anything needed mopping up later on and to avoid the classic of filling up on bread.
As well as tucking into slices of sourdough, we tried the crunchy croquettes that Colleen’s has become known for. Crisp on the outside yet cheesy and creamy in the centre and served with a punchy parsley aioli then sprinkled generously with Parmesan, these croquettes could cause a fight (especially as it comes with three on the plate) so be sure to order your own individual dish.
For starters, the staff at Colleen’s brought out a pork Scotch egg served with harissa mayonnaise and cured sea bass with buttermilk and herbs. The Scotch egg was pretty big featuring a gooey yolk shining brightly in the centre, with the harissa mayonnaise offering some heat to cut through the richness.
As for the cured sea bass, I’m a big fan of anything pickled and this dish offered a lovely tang thanks to the curing process and it being sat in a creamy pool of herby buttermilk. The dish was delicate in both flavour and presentation as the seabass was cut into incredibly thin slices then decorated with beautiful herbs.
Moving onto main course, we tucked into the Ramsbottom restaurant’s pork chop with apple purée, pepper sauce and dressed rocket and their wild mushroom gnocchi with mushroom and lemon verbena sauce. The pork was succulent, but slightly on the fatty side, however the apple purée and the pepper sauce married incredibly well with the meat, creating a sweet, salty and peppery dish- flavour was certainly not lacking here. The gnocchi can be described as lovely, pillowy potato bites, which were accompanied by a wonderful selection of earthy yet meaty wild mushrooms all of varying sizes.
For dessert, Colleen’s continued to keep things seasonal with an apple and Yorkshire rhubarb crumble on the menu as we enter the prime time for rhubarb. The crumble was accompanied by a generous scoop of mascarpone on top. Pudding purists may say cream or custard are the perfect addition to crumble but after trying mascarpone this time, Colleen’s might be onto something. With such sweetness from the stewed fruit, the mascarpone was a great creamy alternative that wasn’t too sweet or overpowering, but also offered the thickness that many love from a clotted cream.
Adding to all the delicious food and drink on the menu, the atmosphere in this quaint restaurant in Ramsbottom is both refined and relaxed. During our visit we enjoyed a playlist of top hits that offered a throwback and hearing the light hubbub as diners chat away all whilst tucking into splendid food.
You’ll find a palate of pinks and greens, with a mix of wooden and soft furnishings, all of which provide a welcoming setting to dine in, especially on a cold wintery night. The restaurant is also a botanical paradise with plants galore on shelves and hanging baskets from the ceiling offering a homely vibe and ode to the nature found on Ramsbottom’s doorstep.
The staff at Colleen’s were very attentive, making for a great dining experience. Owner Thomas Morgan heads up the kitchen and you can tell the team make an effort to consistently produce beautifully-presented and delicious dishes.
Some of us search for menus online before booking mainly due to dietary requirements but at Colleen’s they are very willing to adapt dishes to suit your needs. When visiting, the menu featured both vegan and gluten-free options and staff were never far away for any menu queries you may have, should it be recommendations or allergen advice.
Colleen’s, 76 Bridge St, Ramsbottom, Bury, BL0 9AG.