My friends loved the cocktail bar on the 12th floor, although the cocktails took an age to get to us, (20 minutes), they were just about worth it. I had a Smokey Old Fashioned, it was lovely.
It's a seriously impressive space as the sun goes down and the lights go up.
|A few tasty canapés.|
The 12 Course Taster Menu.
Chilled Broad Bean soup. I liked this, a nice little starter.
Bacon and Onion Brioche with Pea butter. I quite enjoyed this dish but I want more pea flavour. Despite using very modern techniques, the end result is that it tastes just like watery liquidised peas to me. The bread and butter are the best things about it.
Poached lobster tail with smoked apple purée. I was expecting big things of this dish off the a la carte menu, it's a jaw dropping £50! It was fine, but if I'd have paid that much I'd have been a bit disappointed to be honest. The quality of the produce is not in question, (which of course is expensive anyway), but there wasn't a lot more to it really. It's good, but it's the level of expectation driven by the extremely high price that's the problem more than the food itself.
Beetroot oyster and Oxtail. The inspiration of Basque chef Eneko Atxa is most obvious on this dish. When you have this sort of presentation, it's imperative that the flavours match, they need to be intense. I noticed the oxtail broth was stronger in flavour than last week, and the oyster was still very decent; but I did feel a little underwhelmed if I'm honest. Is the smoke supposed to be the smell of the sea? As I can't smell it. I still like the bread element though.
Potato and artichoke salad with truffle. We all really liked this one. The hot and cold combination is something I've had a lot of lately and it really works well.
Chilled beetroot gazpacho and avocado sorbet.
Pork Cutlet with pineapple rose and rosemary. I think the pork was overcooked and I didn't much like the pineapple with it.
Manchester Tart. I didn't enjoy this as quite much second time around.
Szechuan, lychee and rose. A really lovely dessert.
I think Manchester House needs to find it's feet and identity. For me it feels way too much like another Living Ventures place rather than the Michelin starred restaurant it aims to be. Rather than move staff over from other LV restaurants, I think also employing some people with experience at a higher level would be a big advantage. Perhaps they're harder to come by. This was the real benefit The French had. They brought in staff from L'Enclume, so they were cooking with gas from the off. It felt like a shit-hot operation from the beginning, Manchester House doesn't quite yet, but it is early days to be fair.
My friends (all female) mentioned the 'Stepford wives' as they christened them. There were indeed a lot of beautiful glamorous women employed here, and that makes it look like somewhere like Artisan or Neighbourhood to be honest. It's a million miles away from The French. For us, this wasn't really a good thing. It needs to decide if it's a posh version of Artisan with much better food, (as it currently feels like to me,) or if it wants to go for the stars; the two things don't necessarily go hand in hand.
Quique Dacosta and the Basque chefs Eneko Atxa and Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz for example in Spain, and even then, it's a style that not everybody takes to. (I personally love it.)
Expectations are very high as is the price tag; but they set this bar themselves. For me, it would have been better to pitch it a slightly lower in price as well and not even mention a Michelin star at all, as currently, this doesn't feel like a place that could achieve a star yet, and you can't just throw money at it, it doesn't work like that.
But like I say, it's very early days, I really hope it does achieve a Michelin star, as I expect The French will this Thursday. The existence of Manchester House alone is amazing for Manchester, and I personally want to encourage and support it as much as I can. But I have to be honest. I'm hoping it's helpful rather than anything else, as I always try and be as constructive as possible.
My friend said on the night; "there wasn't any depth of flavour in anything we ate." Sadly, I have to agree with her. The food was all good, but it wasn't £95 worth of great Michelin star level food for us.
Perhaps it's my fault, I was expecting too much, but it is a lot to pay for dinner - it's Michelin star money, and that has to justify the cost in terms of food and service, and on our visit it didn't - for us anyway. That is of course a subjective thing, many may disagree.
So while we all enjoyed our night as a whole, there was no real wow moment in the meal for any of us, and if I'm paying £120 including wine, I need it. Interestingly, our Mrs Bacon 'replacement' for the night (she was at a leaving do and came down later), loves food but perhaps has not been to quite as many expensive restaurants as the rest of us, but she felt exactly the same way. So it wasn't just that we're spoilt in going to El Celler de can Roca and the rest. Something was missing for us all, the magic just wasn't there, yet.
I really hope it comes in time though, and I'm sure it will, as they can't afford this to fail.
I'm optimistic Manchester House will go from strength to strength, perhaps I'm being a little unfair in judging it too harshly too early, but it is honestly how we all felt at the time.
To conclude; it's like but not quite love, yet.
Service: Good but needs stepping up.
Food: Good, but a little overpriced for me.
Star dish: Braised Snails, potato and parsley.
See the original preview of Manchester House here.
Soundtrack; Wishing on a star- Rose Royce.