Manchester House Review
Strangely, it’s taken me a while to dine there, way too long in fact. I’ve talked about it loads, drooled over friend’s photos from their dinner there and stalked the online menu. But last week was the first time I’ve actually dined there myself and therefore I feel compelled to share my Manchester House review.
First things first, my experience of Manchester House was over a midweek lunch date and I skipped breakfast to ensure a hearty appetite (as if I don’t have one anyway). Arriving at 12.30pm we were shown into the lift and greeted at the other end, on the second floor. I must mention here that everything during our Manchester House experience was seamless – from the point they took our coats to the moment we happily said goodbye.
The restaurant fit-out is stunning; modern and eclectic, warm and welcoming. It’s not overly posy or uncomfortable like you might expect an aspiring Michelin-starred restaurant to be. The tables are large, the seats are wide and you’re close enough to your neighbours that you don’t feel lonely but without being able to overhear their conversations. And the most fascinating part of Manchester House for any foodie like me, is that the kitchen is totally open and on-show, so you can watch the chefs working away on your food, including the man himself, Chef Aiden Byrne. (I was particularly chuffed to see him in the kitchen as we walked-in. Yes!).
There are a few ways you can eat at Manchester House: a la carte, set menu or tasting menu. As it was lunch time and as we both had meetings afterwards, we opted for the set lunch menu. The incredibly helpful staff explain everything to you, so don’t worry.
We made our choices, sat back and excitedly waited for the first dish to arrive. We were ecstatic when we were surprised with an unexpected amuse bouche to kick things off: a trio of delights that included a pickled scallop in sushi vinegar, a beautifully rich and creamy chicken skin dish and my unexpected favourite: a squid ink nori cracker. I won’t tell you too much about the dish, as I think you need to experience it for yourself, but the cracker was unlike anything I’d ever tasted before and was utterly superb. The textures were a complete taste sensation and the presentation was simple and chic.
Next came our first course. I went for the halibut and he went for the venissn. The lardo wasn’t something I’d tasted served like that before, in a translucent thin layer draped over the fish. It gave a gentle richness to the dish, without overpowering the fish and introduced a new texture. It looked beautiful with the edible flowers on top. The venison dish was hearty and rich, there’s no denying it. Delicious.
Then our second course; the one I was most looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. A new one to the menu from Aiden apparently and it’s a winner! Iron Age Pork Belly with Hazelnut Gnocchi and Shallot puree. Literally everything about that dish was something I love to eat. The pork belly melted in the mouth with just the right amount of crunch from the crackling and the gnocchi was light and buttery with a deep sauce to balance. The puree gave it just enough bite. The perfect dish for me and my date loved it too.
We’d eyed the desserts on the menu when we arrived and were invited to choose once we’d devoured our pork belly. I couldn’t resist the seasonal pumpkin, praline and chocolate and he opted for carrot, walnut and cream cheese. I’ll be honest, the words on the menu didn’t do my dessert justice…there’s a wealth of deliciousness hidden under that mound of broken meringue, I can assure you. Again, I’ll let you find out for yourself but you won’t be disappointed. The presentation of the carrot dessert was probably the best of the dishes we had and we certainly were left in no doubt of the star ingredient. Nicely spiced and a light sponge, the ideal winter dessert.
The above was washed down with a Sauvignon Blanc for me and a Riocca for him. Just as we were reminiscing over the lunch that was, someone approached our table with a tray of delights for us to choose from…another course to our lunch! Lucky us! First a bowl containing two different flavoured madeleines (still warm from the oven) and two macaroons. The second was a tray of chocolates, sat atop roasted cocoa beans that they roast in-house…yes, in-house! We were invited to pick our chocolate and both opted for the dark chocolate with creamy caramel. You can tell the quality of the chocolate as there was no bitter aftertaste. But the madeleines were my personal favourite.
Phew, I feel like I need to pause for breath. We certainly had no idea that we’d leave Manchester House as full as we did from a lunch date. But not uncomfortably, sluggishly full. Oh no…completely sated and happily full (and a little merry from the wine, I won’t lie).
I feel like I have to bring it up…how the hell does this place not have a Michelin star?!? I can’t believe it. I’ve eaten in a few Michelin-starred establishments in my time, across the world and the food that Manchester House is producing, is up there with some of the best dishes I’ve had. The service, for me, strikes the right balance of formal and friendly and the situation is stunning. So I’m at a loss as to why Aiden’s hard work hasn’t paid off in the Michelin stakes just yet. But hey, who am I to know? I’m just a lowly (hungry) food blogger.
In summary people, if you’re looking for somewhere special to eat or somewhere for a seriously slap-up lunch (which at just £27.50 per head, is surprisingly affordable), then Manchester House should be top of your list.
And if you live out of town and are planning on a day or weekend in Manchester, then don’t leave without stopping by and make sure you plan in enough time to head for drinks at the 12th floor bar before or after dinner. It has 360 degree views across the city not to be missed.
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.