Manchester House Review
Manchester House, 18-22 Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 3BZ – Visit Now
Manchester House is the pet project of Kirkby-born chef Aiden Byrne, the youngest chef to win a Michelin star, when he was just 22. Sorry Merseyside, your loss is our gain. Firstly, the name doesn’t do it justice. If this Spinningfields venue is a house, then my pet sausage dog is a brutal killing machine. Rather, it’s one of the city’s best-looking spaces, a cavernous artfully-lit room, straight out of a James Bond villain’s mansion. After an unnecessary trip up to the 12th floor cocktail bar, then back down to the 2nd floor to eat, we begin with a trio of snacks.
First, an intensely sour scallop, pickled in sushi vinegar and speckled with red peppercorns – seafood with a palate-crackling punch. Next, the squid ink cracker is more objet d’art than food. A granite-gray bubbly rice cracker, topped with chunks of yellow sole, baby squid, bright red roquito red pepper and basil leaves. It’s a dramatic combination of vivid colours and textures that can be forgiven for not tasting quite as good as it looks. Finally, a foie gras ballotine, covered with warm potato mousse, finished with crispy chicken skin and parmesan. This is the best of the three and impossible not to guzzle like a hungry Bash Street Kid. Etiquette be damned.
Reassuringly, the a la carte menu has just two starter options: monkfish or pigeon. Nothing is on the menu for the sake of it, no pandering. The monkfish is another beautiful dish. A thick slab of fish studded with pine nuts and delightfully Lilliputian mushrooms, covered in a dark mushroom broth poured from a glass teapot. Very Alice In Wonderland.
This is Byrne’s greatest creation: a ball of foie gras, magically transformed into a polished purple cherry, complete with sugar-glass stem. It’s laugh-out-loud brilliant
As exquisite as this profoundly meaty non-meat dish is, it’s entirely surpassed by the squab pigeon. You won’t find this much-maligned bird on many menus in Manchester (beforehand, a vegetarian colleague tells me to enjoy my “rat with wings”) but it’s been a staple of Manchester House since the day it opened, and for good reason.
A pint-sized pigeon breast, dark meat and golden crispy skin, sits next to a ginger cracker holding a blob of cherry sorbet and a foie gras cherry. This single item is Byrne’s greatest creation to date: a ball of foie gras, magically transformed into a polished purple cherry, complete with sugar-glass stem. It’s laugh-out-loud brilliant and performs magic on the palate, combining sweet and savoury flavours, with an almost Christmassy feel. The plate is work of art, and hands down one of the most captivating dishes you’ll find in Manchester.
Manchester House has earned quite a reputation since opening, all of it deserved. While fine dining can sometimes be stuffy, here the atmosphere here matches the food – light and fun, backed up by solid-gold expertise. (Our sharp-as-a-tack waiter Oliver deserves a special mention for handling my questions with endless reserves of charm and grace.)
When you approach Tower 12 in Spinningfields Manchester, it looks like a very normal city tower, don’t be fooled. Inside lies a very special experience for both food lovers and lovers of a life with a view. Two stunning independently different environments. The Lounge on level 12 and the Restaurant by Aiden Byrne on level 2.