April 12th, 2017

Manchester House Review

By Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor

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.

Manchester House Review

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.

Manchester House Review

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.

For mains, pan-fried sea bass and pork cutlet. The sea bass, skin perfectly crisped, rests on an artichoke veloute containing that lesser-spotted root vegetable salsify, plus cockles and chicken for good measure. The salsify gives an intriguing oyster taste, adding another dimension to this accomplished dish.
This Enid Blyton-style procession of delicate pink and white mousse, jellies and candy fragments is both modern and wonderfully old-fashioned
You’ll struggle to find a finer pork dish. Never the most glamorous of meats, this is a rustic but dazzling interpretation. Braised pork belly and suckling pig, barbequed celeriac, apple pureé and a puffed pork skin theatrically draped across the lot. The cuts of meat are plump and tender, much lighter than pork tends to be.
Manchester House Review
The rhubarb dessert is billed as ‘rhubarb, yoghurt and ginger’ but it’s so much more. Another fairytale dish, this Enid Blyton-style procession of delicate pink and white mousse, jellies and candy fragments is both modern and wonderfully old-fashioned, light to the touch and powerfully sweet. The chocolate dish serves those with darker tastes, offering a tough crunchiness to round off the meal. Liquorice and coffee flavours can be found amongst the brittle crumbly hazelnuts and biscuits, alongside a flamboyant twist of dark chocolate.

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.)

Eagle-eyed TV viewers will recall the launch of Manchester House from the 2014 BBC series, Restaurant Wars – the opponent being Simon Rogan’s The French. Of course, Simon has now left the Midland Hotel, replaced by his protégé Adam Reid, so with regards to that particular battle – and with Byrne’s foie gras cherry in mind – it’s high time we declare Aiden the belated winner. His style of fine dining is a unique, often dreamlike experience – shamelessly extravagant and completely unforgettable.
18-22 Bridge Street
M3 3BZ

Website: www.manchesterhouse.uk.com
Telephone: 0161 835 2557
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Tags: Food, Manchester, Manchester House, Review
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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.