Manchester House Visit: April 2016
Aiden Byrne Opened Manchester House in partnership with the Living Ventures Group in 2013. Surprisingly, I had never entered the domains of Aiden’s restaurant. Therefore, I decided to visit for lunch to see if I could make Manchester House my new home away from home.
Upon entering reception, I spied a lady discreetly armed with a clipboard, but to my surprise this was not the usual abrupt and forceful cringe clipboard carrier. Greeted both politely and professionally and directed clearly and concisely into our elevator that transported us up to food heaven on floor two – Aiden’s House. Coats, hats, umbrellas in fact everything except the kitchen sink was discretely taken for storage, without fuss or palaver, by the employees for safe keeping. Our moment had now come where we were invited into the heart of Manchester House – The main restaurant.
Immediately seated, smiles emerged on all my diners faces, as did mine and this was even before we had perused and sampled the food offerings…why? The tables and the restaurant layout. No greater annoyance occurs when lunch for three becomes a lunch for the 3000 due to restaurants packing in customers like sardines creating cramped overcrowded seating and table arrangements. Furthermore, tables that merely accommodate a plate, let alone all the usual restaurant accessories and where it can be a battle between whether to accommodate a glass of wine or glass of water. At Manchester House there is no such issue or compromise. Sizeable tables that accommodated the usual restaurant accessories, wine, water and a cocktail or two without being cramped or there ever being a balancing battle for table space. The generous spaciousness allowed for a relaxed atmosphere and private conversation without the feeling of being in an empty isolated space. The fully open kitchen captures the truths of a working kitchen and creates an excitement yet in a surreal calm fashion that does not intrude or impede upon your dining experience.
Dietary requirements have become more common and diners expected to be catered for without compromise. I have commonly visited restaurants where my frustrated fellow diners go through the process of providing a dietary educational lecture to clueless employees. Dining out can soon become a deliberating debate through a menu minefield of limited choices or worse still a deep thought process requiring out the box thinking to provide employees with your imaginative self-adaptation suggestions to non-dietary friendly dishes already on the menu. Manchester House do dietary requirements and they do them well…no let me correct that extremely well. No compromise, not an afterthought and certainly not a second choice. Our sever Kirsten was patient and clearly educated about dietary requests and requirements.
The Amuse Bouche consisted of 3 exquisite elements. The centre piece, a delightful display, encased within a large prominent porcelain egg case. The mystery of what was encased inside, felt like the rush of excitement I experienced as a child when opening Russian dolls, but the offering encased was exquisite and edible. Smooth asparagus mousse, egg yolk and morels served within an actual egg shell that tasted silky, smooth and deliciously delightful. There was Puffed pork crackling, smoked apple and hazelnut. A bold crunch sensation that packed a punch in the palate with big bold smoky flavours. Finally, crisp chicken skin, cepe mushroom mousse and parmesan. My personal favourite that had a perfect balance of flavour, texture and crunch. Admittedly, immediately addicted, I considered distraction techniques to help myself to my fellow diners share, only restrained by the thought that the journey was soon to continue with the starters.
Poached pheasant egg with chilled artichoke and sauternes gazpacho was a delightful dream. A gentle push upon the egg and the yolk oosed onto the plate mixing with the sauternes gazpacho to produce a sweet soup that was perfectly balanced out with the bitter bite and texture of the chilled artichoke creating a fresh yet bold flavour combination.
Lobster mayonnaise, nasturtium, gold rush apple and chamomile was both a visual and taste triumph. A dish that needed to be destructed to taste, but painful to do so as the dish represented visual beauty synonymous with a beautiful oceanic coral reef. This dish was a balance of delicate flavours that did not over power the palate.
The main offering of cured Goosnargh duck breast, watercress, turnip and truffle was a triumph. Attentive attention to detail, each element careful positioned to perfection creating natural effortless charm yet a perfect visual display. Each element working in unison, creating mouth melting moments. A flavour delight at times creating a personal struggle for me to contain the volume of my “mmm” moments. Second, was one of the dietary substitution options, but it was certainly not second best. The Pumpkin macaroni, parmesan mousse and truffle made a bold statement that had a smooth smoked creamy taste that complimented the texture of the macaroni.
Chocolate, hazelnut, coffee and liquorice dessert was served, being my domain I had to take a moment to simply stare at this work of art. The colour palate consisted of deep dark chocolate, caramel, mocha, and cream with a hint of gold. Providing visual earthiness, masculinity and depth yet at the same time the dish flaunts feminine finesse. Crisp, crunch, crumbly and chilled smooth textures created palatal pleasure. The hazelnut brittle barter began with fellow diners all hoping to get an extra piece of this sensational creative crunch.
Aiden and his team consistently produce creative, classic and bold flavour combinations and presentations yet cleverly create balance by combining contemporary with the traditional. Hence providing diners with an extraordinary dining experience. During my experience, I found myself adopting an air of selfishness guarding each of my dishes with my life as like my fellow diners I too was feasting my eyes over their plates looking for potential left overs and hence the opportunity of second servings. However, there was no such luck! The service levels matched that of the food offerings. Kirsten our server was knowledgeable, relaxed, professional, and personable and importantly respected boundaries. Kirsten had excellent judgement and was focused throughout providing an attentive and non-intrusive service.
Pre or post lunch/dinner drinks can be enjoyed on the restaurants stunning terrace area. However, we decided to venture up to Lounge 12 bar and yes you guessed it is on the 12th floor. The Manchester house employees smoothly transported our belongings and more importantly the finale lunch offerings of mouth-watering madeleines and macaroons to our pre-reserved table that offered exquisite views over the city of Manchester.
A lovely young gentleman, both informative and an extremely likeable character whose name admittedly I forgot, but is pictured in this article, served us an amazing Manchester House Imperial Tea. A delightful mechanical Marvel that seemed to produce a generous amount of alcoholic tea tipples for all my guests. During our brief lounge 12 visit Jessica looked after all our needs and ensured that we had both a relaxing and excellent experience.
All the foundations are there and the house is built question is after my visit do I want to make this house my new home? Yes, yes and yes again…why? Two things that make Manchester House a home away from home and not just a house is their ability to deliver a warm welcome in conjunction with hearty fine dining food for all. For 2016 let’s give Manchester House a well-deserved Michelin Star Award plaque to proudly display in their home.
Thank you for reading 🙂
18 – 22 Bridge Street, Spinningfields, Manchester. M3 3BZ
0161 835 2557
Manchester House Restaurant Opening times:
Tuesday – Thursday: Lunch 12noon – 2:30pm/Dinner 7pm – 9:30pm
Friday – Saturday: Lunch 12noon – 2:30pm/Dinner 6pm – 10:00pm
Lounge 12 Opening times:
Tuesday – Saturday
12noon – Late