As big as a Manchester House

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That pretty much summarises how I felt after twelve courses of fine dining at Manchester House. And I loved it.

For a birthday blowout, this was a great choice. I particularly liked not having to get tarted up and teeter about in impractical heels, for Manchester this place is pretty relaxed, even the waiters wear jeans. I also loved the open kitchen and realised how uncommon it is to be able to see a calmly industrious kitchen in action, especially with Aiden Byrne milling around in it.

Then there was the food itself. It’s evident that fancy open kitchen contains a serious wealth of knowledge about flavour. Some of the combinations were heavenly, like duck, cherry and gingerbread and surprisingly truffle and white chocolate. Though on occasion they missed the mark just a little, like salmon and rose.

I was impressed by the amount of fish (particularly for a Manchester audience) and the attention paid to every part of each dish.

To start, the appetisers were impressive. I want all butter to have seaweed in it now and all brioche to be made with mushrooms (which has actually always been one of my least favourite things).

There was a definite feeling of style over substance on occasion, particularly with the lemon-balm smoke emanating from the tray containing two crackers with goats cheese, but I didn’t really care, I enjoyed every bite.

The real star dish for me was the truffle risotto (perfectly cooked) with gently roasted scallops, and parmesan and truffle shavings. There was apparently white chocolate in there but against flavours like those it was barely perceptible, possibly just adding to the overall ultimate deliciousness.

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The mains featured great, established flavour combinations; salmon and beetroot, trout and avocado, duck and cherry and lamb and olives. Mostly the dishes were fantastic, on occasion slightly misjudged like the chicken satay on the same dish as the avocado and trout, if only it were two separate dishes! The strongly flavoured rose also overpowered the delicate salmon which was a bit sad. Though the beautifully cooked lamb and duck dishes more than made up for it.

Ironically the palate cleanser was also up there for me, even with a slightly superfluous bit of theatre involving a grated frozen apple, the eucalyptus and elderflower mix for me was heavenly.

Ending the sweet adventure with a box of exquisite macarons packed full of flavour, I had to agree with my other half, this place is definitely a girly food mecca.

But that’s part of why I loved it. I shall definitely be back, just as soon as I longer feel the size of a house.

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