Fera in Claridge's, he is still very much in charge of The French and L'Enclume whereas he's delegated his other restaurants, Mr Cooper's and Rogan and Co (which we will soon be visiting) to his 'lieutenants', chef's Kevin Tickle and Gareth Jones. Incidentally, Mr Cooper's House and Garden is probably my second favourite restaurant in town right now.
We were warmly welcomed like old friends by restaurant manager, Kamila Plonska. (Our dining companions, the ladies who lunch, came here three times last year and were also regulars at L'Enclume). You know I often mention the rarity of really great service, well she has it in abundance. It's utter charm mixed with complete professionalism. I must also mention our sommelier Filippo Zito who is a major part of the fantastic team here. After a fabulous mojito from next door, I ordered a bottle of Abadia de San Campio Rias Baixas Albariño (2012). The wine itself was beautiful, clean and fresh, exactly what I wanted, I just about swallowed the hefty £40 price tag (about £10 retail, representing a 300% mark up) and looked forward to what was to come.
I'm not going to go into every course, the pictures will tell the story, but for us, the food has come on even more than last year under head chef Adam Reid. It was all simply stunning, on the next level we thought. My favourite part of the meal here and at L'Enclume are the little snacks you get at the beginning, and they keep coming, I love it. I think since last year, pretty much everything is new, apart from the signature dish, Ox in coal oil. So we had as follows; Rye, mackerel, lovage.
Thinking about other restaurants, I wouldn't say it's comparable to a one star restaurant, I'd say the food is at a two star level, especially when considering it against other two stars we've visited in recent times (The Square, Marcus Wareing, Calima). That's food and service too, which is never stuffy at The French as it can be in London restaurants. (Incidentally, I think L'Enclume deserves three stars). But then again, who knows the mystery of the Michelin inspectors?
The French is not only the best restaurant in Manchester in my opinion, it's streets ahead of the competition and it's one of the best in the country. I can't think of a better way of spending a Saturday afternoon but with friends, eating, drinking and enjoying the luxurious pleasure of it all. I hope we can return sooner than later next time as The French can only get even better.
To see the current wine list click here.