Manchester house has had a lot of hype around it. The Restaurant Wars program that aired a while back really stirred things up for the Manchester food scene and what Aiden Byrne looked to be doing at Manchester House looked nothing short of spectacular. Unfortunately early reports of the food after its opening didn’t seem to quite live up to the expectations and I read a lot of reviews that seemed to be ‘style over substance’. In the last 6 months or so though, these seem to have taken a turn for the better, with a little reigning in of the style and a lot better substance. But really, judgment shouldn’t be passed until you’ve been yourself. We went up at lunchtime, and were impressed with the friendly greeting and service throughout, the staff were very knowledgable and you could see the training was getting through. We opted to eat of the lunch menu, where you can 2, 3 or 6 courses.
To start with, we were treated to a bread course, an interesting twist on getting the usual basket of bread. This was a goats milk brioche, with whipped goats cheese accompanied by a turnip velouté with horseradish and chestnuts. For me this really hit the spot and I really enjoyed it.
Lee’s starter was Roasted Jerusalem artichokes, liver parfait, ballotine of pigeon confit, while I went for the Sicilian Red Prawns, John Dory, crisp sweet millet and shellfish Sabayon. My dish was fantastic – the red prawns sweet, all the fish perfectly cooked, velvety sabayon and the little crunch of the millet. A delight to eat. Lee’s starter was also very good – the liver parfait probably the standout, although I don’t think it blew him away like my starter.
For the main course we both went for Goosnargh duck breast and tongue, parmesan and pistachio. It came as two parts, the duck, egg and charred broccoli, and then a little egg shell filled with duck tongue topped with parmesan foam and pistachio. The duck was lovely a pink, but the skin could have done with more rendering. The broccoli was lovely, as was the duck tongue. Something about the dish didn’t quite come together for either of us though.
Moving on to the desserts and these were both outstanding. Mine was Chocolate, lime and pineapple. Chocolate ganache, vanilla sponge, meringue, caramelised compressed pineapple, lime sorbet and foam. We’re coming up to the end of 2014 and this was the best dessert I’ve had all year, surpassing the one from Le Champignon Sauvage. A fantastic combination of flavours and textures that just left you wanting more and more. Lee had the Apple and lemon thyme, vanilla, crème brûlée and bramble ice cream which was possibly even prettier than mine, and by his account tasted just as good. Elegant, refreshing, harmonious, and again, his favourite dessert of the year. Thumbs up!
Tea, coffee and treats rounded off the meal, and in my opinion there is no better way to finish of a meal than a little box of macarons. We fought over the flavours, and the best one was the apple crumble.
Despite a marginally underwhelming main course, the excellence of the rest of the food really made up for this and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and the lunch menu gives great value.
Disclosure: We paid in full for our meal and the restaurant were not aware that we may write about the experience.