Jonathan Schofield appreciates simple food and great beer in a very good looking development
The Middlewood Locks development in Salford is designed by Whittam Cox Architects and is confident, strong and good looking. The same could be said about the new Seven Bro7hers bar, which occupies a site in the building closest to Manchester City centre and only about seven minutes’ walk from Chapel Street.
The food is wholesome and uncomplicated but the combination with the drinks is more than worth the walk
The waterside location - on the banks of the redundant Manchester, Bury and Bolton Canal - is going to be a real asset in summer. There’s potential for metres of external drinking here. But careful with that pint, Eugene. The adjacent lock is deep and unfenced. On my first visit, at night, I was looking for a place to lock my bike and nearly took a tumble. I like reviewing places but that would have taken my commitment to words too far.
The interior of Seven Bro7thers is big, high and handsome with a books' corner, board games, settees, high tables and lower ones. The bar unit beckons with lots of pumps and a chalkboard above with some of the different beers available.
The menu is straight to the point and the food that comes out from the kitchen has rugged charm. The navvies who built the adjacent canal between 1797-1808 might have approved.
I loved the cheese toastie, aka cheese on toast (£4.50), with the mixed cheese melting through the sourdough, creating a sort of delightful goo of cheddar, smoked cheddar and blue cheese. For people who don’t wolf down food at every sitting as I do, this would provide a very adequate lunch.
The beef hotpot (£8.50) was as robust as expected, with a crazy mosaic of suitably moist root veg livened with thyme and a little garlic. I grew fond of the swede amongst the veg. The hotpot with rich stout gravy, chunky beef, peas and onions provided more heft under layers of potato. If there’s a caveat here then a think if the stout had a little less presence in the gravy the dish would be improved. That stout gives a burnt bitterness, which I tempered with good old fashioned HP brown sauce. I always have brown sauce with hotpot.
On a separate visit, the sea bass (£9) was more delicate but just as straightforward. The root veg were present again (maybe add a little variety here dear Seven Bro7hers?) with a decent coconut milk sauce. A cheese fondue at £6 was entertaining and extremely dippable. There are no desserts at present although they will make an appearance over time.
I had a second pint instead. As you'd expect, there are some excellent Seven Bro7hers beers; a favourite of mine is the IPA at 5%, a proper ale with real character, crisp yet a little fruity, a beer to linger over.
It has been satisfying to see the brewery mini-Empire of Seven Bro7hers gather pace. The fact they are seven brothers of the family McAvoy from Salford makes for a good story for visitors to Manchester and Salford. Then when you tell people they have four sisters who make their own Four Sisters Gin, it gets better.
The decision to open at Middlewood Locks will prove a wise one. It's good for the boys and its good for the development, spreading the word for the former and adding soul to the latter.
As for guests, they should remember that Seven Bro7hers Middlewood Locks is a bar with food rather than a restaurant. The food is wholesome and uncomplicated but the combination with the drinks is more than worth the walk through Manchester and Salford’s racing development. The walk is fascinating in its own right - canals, bridges, water, road and rail - and the quality of the work at the destination is reassuring whether it's with bricks and mortar or beer and food.
Seven Bro7hers, Lockside Lane, Middlewood Locks, Salford, M5 4YP
Follow @JonathSchofield on Twitter
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Cheese on toast 7, fondue 7, hotpot 7, seabass 7
Bar service but happy and easy-going
Depends on the time of the day, but again easy-going