Manchester House Review – MCR Snails and Superb Steak
It's been a couple of months since the launch of the uber-glam Manchester House so Ginge and I decided to treat ourselves to a mid-week catch up and see how the Living Ventures' Michelin Star contender was doing.
Both of us have been up to our necks in it so it's been a while since our ‘windows' have coincided and we could do a review together but what a comeback.
For sheer style and opulence it's hard to beat but the food, OMG, the food. Even for Ginger, who refers to such fine dining as ‘party food' (based on portion size and not the fact this is what birthdays in Swinton are like) was blown away.
"Aiden Byrne is apparently there most days which means you get what you pay for..."
One of the main reasons has to be that the actual chef behind the eatery, is well, actually there and actually cooking, before you're very eyes, actually. Something that is rare in the city's burgeoning celeb-chef restaurants. He is apparently there most days which means you get what you pay for and in this case it is definitely worth paying for.
To re-cap on the recipe for success that Manchester House is, the much vaunted stats are 24 chefs and only 76 covers so you do the maths. Head honcho is Aiden Byrne who's pedigree includes The Dorchester and The Church Green, Lymm. They've spent £3million kitting it out with 350K on the kitchen alone.
"...top floor bar area which is a series of wonderful terraces with a quite superb view of our fair city..."
You get into Manchester House via what looks like an office reception and are whisked to the top floor bar area which is a series of wonderful terraces with a quite superb view of our fair city and then lots of mini-seating and booth areas. You can just go for a drink and while steep, the prices here are affordable with a glass of house wine from £6.50, lager from under a fiver and a bottle of Prosecco at £39. Not enough to break the bank and on a par with the Lowry and Cloud 23.
So far so good, but as we said at the preview not screamingly different to what we've already seen in Manchester but then the show really starts.
You are whisked down to the restaurant and as Mr Bacon (founder and general Living Ventures Big Cheese) is fond of saying, this is a ‘game changer'.
"...how you imagine Steve Jobs and Apple would make a kitchen cool."
You walk through a patisserie where pleasant chefs are beavering away and it smells divine. Then past the open kitchen, where again, you see in plain view the hustle, bustle and sweat, of the cooks creating. A sort of cross between a laboratory and how you imagine Steve Jobs and Apple would make a kitchen cool.
Aiden himself is like a convivial conductor orchestrating plates of pure artistry that look and are good enough to eat. He said a very lovely hello and how pleased he was we were back, giving this ‘casual' fine dining experience friendly northern charm.
The room itself is not normal fine-dining. There are no white table cloths but just booths nestling far away from each other and rows of enormous tables for two as well as a very cute private dining area.
The chef's table are actually bar stools by the kitchen so you can watch the maestro and his team at work.
Even with our bi-polar weather (what's with the searing sunshine and then torrential rain) the terraces were inviting, being pseudely lawned and adorned with enormous wicker chairs that you never want to get out of.
Just stunning and however much you might not want to be seduced by Manchester House there is absolutely no way that it's not love at first sight.
"...two snails and the chewy texture is unmistakeable... I chowed down without trying to think of those pathways."
We were going a la carte and for a £15 supplement you get delicacies from the taster menu sent before your meal which is an absolute bargain.
We started with roast onion brioche that came with smoked butter and accompanying consume. It was divine and set the bar for the evening.
Next came a chilled broad bean soup with goat's cheese emulsion, followed by a razor clam with poached seafood that was just the essence of seafood and absolute bliss.
Onto the somewhat infamous Manchester snail, as our lovely waiter Sam said a ‘homage to Chorlton pathways', in a wonderfully garlic -infused soupy sauce that was just superb. You get at least two snails in this and the chewy texture is unmistakeable. In my case, I chowed down without trying to think of those pathways.
All this for a £15 supplement and even the Ginger was getting full and then it was onto our ‘true' starters.
I had chosen badly and the gripe I have with the brief menu descriptions is that you can make assumptions as I had assumed my chicken and artichoke would be warm and dribbling into each other as these are two of my favourite things.
It wasn't, it was cold and I had a pang of disappointment. But then with each mouthful the taste and flavours built making a tantalising fantastic finale.
"...the roasted pigeon followed with black cherries...filled with foie gras and bursts on your tongue like the best surprise in the world."
The Ginger had ordered the roasted pigeon followed with black cherries, one of which was filled with foie gras and bursts on your tongue like the best surprise in the world. I have had this before and it's a great dish. The Ginge declared it one of the best starters he has ever had.
Mains and the Ginge had their take in Boddingtons beef and ale pie. This was a deconstructed and not the crusty Pukka pie type but was wolfed down in seconds by Ginge who was loving the whole meal.
My filet steak was the best I have ever eaten. The bone marrow a wonderful blue cheesy truffle treat that made even more of each mouthful and was sheer heaven.
We didn't have time for puds as Ginge was in baby-sitting mode and had to be back. We were also both very full but I have had them before here and they are excellent.
You can do a tasting menu from £50 and there is a fixed lunch menu at £27.50 or you can go a la carte with starters from £12, mains from £24 and puds at £8.50. They are closed Sundays and Monday when apparently Aiden does his turn in Cheshire.
This is a steal for the quality and the cooking, not to mention the fact that the chef is also actually there.
On the I Loveometer: Marriage, definitely, maybe.
Tower 12, 18-22 Bridge Street, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3BZ
0161 835 2557
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.