Aubergine Katsu

The Counter House in Ancoats

I find it can be difficult to balance good food with healthy eating sometimes. I do like stodgy food but am increasingly finding that it leaves me feeling rather lethargic afterwards. The Counter House aims to serve healthy comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I was excited when I was invited to their launch as I got to try 5 dishes! Knowing that they had vegan options, I took my friend Lacey with me.

(AD: This meal was provided for free)

Counter House interior

The restaurant has plenty of lighting via the large windows and an open kitchen, so you can see the chefs prepare and plate up the food. I was sat here and can see the chefs worked well together and it was fascinating seeing the care and attention given to each plate. The exposed brickwork is prevalent in each of the buildings around Cutting Room Square and the addition of the plant wall helped to enhance this gorgeous feature.

Arrival Drinks

There were two options for arrival cocktails. I opted for the Day 1, a drink containing carrot, apple, lemon and ginger as this was their non-alcoholic option for the launch. I’ve always loved drinks with ginger in them, so this was very enjoyable. This is one of four cold presses served on their menu, priced at £4.50. These can be bought to take away too.

The alcoholic option was called the Counter Crush and contains vodka, carrot and blood orange. Wine and beers were also served as part of the launch, but I did not try these. The bar appeared to be stocked fairly well, but as they don’t have a drinks menu online, I can’t say how varied this is or how much they are.

The Food

They have three distinct menus:

  • All day menu comprising Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm, with an additional set of items only available from 12 noon onwards
  • Brunch menu for Saturday and Sundays 10am – 5pm
  • Dinner menu from 5pm onwards

Vegetable sticks, flatbread and dips

Carrot and cumin spiced hummus, artichoke and white bean dip, beetroot Baba Ghanoush, flat bread and veg sticks (ve)

Carrot and cumin spiced hummus, artichoke and white bean dip, beetroot Baba Ganoush, flatbread and vegetable sticks (ve)

The first course was flatbread and cucumber and carrot sticks served with three vegan dips. Note, this is a variation on what is actually served on their menu, so you cannot actually order this.

The carrot and cumin spiced hummus was by far the favourite. The texture is familiar and the cumin added a warming spice to the dip.

The artichoke and white bean dip was very mild in flavour, as can be expected from two subtle tasting ingredients. I would have liked more flavour from this, maybe some cayenne pepper?

The beetroot Baba Ganoush wasn’t that pleasant texture wise. I normally like beetroot but not in this format. I had expected to enjoy this more as I like beetroot hummus.

What you can order off the menu is the cumin spiced hummus, tzatziki, beetroot feta dip, served with flatbread or vegetable sticks (v) at £5.50. Although not vegan, I am a fan of tzatziki and the beetroot and feta dip sounds a lot better than the beetroot Baba Ganoush. This sharing plate is part of their weekday lunch menu and their dinner menu.

Vegan Benedict

Vegan benedict

Vegan Benedict

Next on the menu was a choice between the Eggs Royale or the Vegan Benedict. The former is served with white tea-smoked salmon and baked avocado slices and costs £9.50. It is only available on their weekend brunch menu.

I chose the Vegan Royale, which is served with aubergine bacon, charred asparagus, baked avocado slices and tofu hollandaise. The aubergine bacon has got to be one of my favourite parts of this dish, providing that umami taste. Baking the avocado gives it an additional texture that’s really pleasant. It’s a shame this isn’t on their actual menu but if you want to try that aubergine bacon, it is part of the Vegan Full Breakfast (£9) available every morning. As well as the aubergine bacon, you also get scrambled tofu, vegan sausage, potato fritter mushrooms, tomato and beans. 

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Turmeric roasted cauliflower salad (ve) £9.50

Turmeric roasted cauliflower salad (ve) £9.50

The third dish was the turmeric roasted cauliflower salad with spiced chickpeas, spinach and a lemon tahini dressing. If you like cauliflower, you’ll like this. The spice of the chickpeas blends nicely with the acidity of the lemon tahini dressing. The pomegranate seeds added a nice juicy element too! My only comment is that I wish the cauliflower was charred more so you get a bit more texture in the dish. You can order this off the lunch menu during weekdays, or anytime on the weekend for £9.50.

Aubergine Katsu

Aubergine Katsu

Aubergine Katsu

The fourth option allowed you to choose between the Chicken Katsu or the Aubergine Katsu. Both are baked with an almond flour crust and then served with wild rice, edamame beans and a coconut curry sauce. I opted to go for the aubergine, as it is one of my favourite vegetables.

Using almond flour instead of breadcrumbs for the katsu does add a healthier touch, although it doesn’t quite have the crunch of breadcrumbs. It’s nice to see a place serve wild rice, as this is my preferred option when cooking rice for myself at home. This and the addition of edamame beans gave the dish texture whilst the curry sauce brought it all together.

The aubergine version of this dish is sadly not available on their menu, but the chicken one can be found on their dinner menu priced at £14.

Coconut Yoghurt Cheesecake

Coconut yoghurt cheesecake (ve) £6

Coconut yoghurt cheesecake (ve) £6

Dessert was the Coconut Yoghurt Cheesecake which was served with blueberries. The base is made from blended date and walnuts, whilst the top is made from coconut yoghurt which was frozen to set.

The “cheesecake” took a while to defrost. I think it could have done with more defrosting when it was served to us as it was colder and slightly more solid in the middle. The flavour, however, was quite good, although I maybe could have done with some more agave.

Desserts can be found on the brunch and dinner menus only and this one costs £6.

Overall rating and comments

8.5/10, -0.5 for the cauliflower not being charred and the cheesecake being slightly frozen, -1 for some of the vegan options I’ve tried above not actually being on the menu. I like the overall concept of The Counter House. The price is slightly more upmarket than some places fitting somewhere in between casual and fine dining. They have a decent vegan selection, which is nice to see. The staff were amazing and I’ll reiterate that it was amazing to see the chefs working so well together on such a busy night. Good job!

For more reviews of the same event, please check out the below sites:

Would visit again?

I definitely want to come back for brunch with the girls one day.

Information

Website: https://www.thecounterhouse.co.uk/
Address: 35 Blossom St, Manchester M4 6AJ

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