From the same people as Australasia and The Alchemist, Manchester House is one of the city's leading lights when it comes to fine dining. Following their traditional post-Christmas break (because who doesn't need a little recuperation after all the festive gluttony?), the spot has reopened for 2018 and it's back with a new menu and a firmly established new chef patron.
The Concept and Venue
Nat Tofan, who has been a key part of Manchester House since 2013, took over from Aiden Byrne as head chef in September 2017. This isn't any old promotion for Tofan, who has to contend with Byrne's formidable reputation as one of the youngest people to achieve a Michelin Star. The new chef is more than up for the task, however, and has stuck with the venue's tradition of creating fine-dining tasting menus (coming in at £75 for eight courses and £95 for 12. Specially paired wine flights can be added on for £45 and £75).
Situated within the trendy area of Spinningfields, the exterior resembles more traditional city office block than one of Manchester's best restaurants. Once you step instead, the venue quickly allays any doubt with stylish, industrial design throughout. Take a lift up to floor 12 where the bar area is the ideal place for a pre-meal drink, with vintage wine bottles adorning walls and elegant seating that overlooks the hustle and bustle of the city below. The restaurant, located on the second floor, has a similar vibe with rustic lighting and a spacious but intimate seating area. It's the huge open kitchen area that grabs your attention though, with the talented chefs whipping up plates pretty enough to be hung on the wall.
The Food and Drink
It might have some pretty big price tags attached to it but Manchester House can also be affordable; the lunch menu has two or three course lunches priced at £24.50 and £29.50. We were here for the full experience and it was the full experience we got, with plate after plate being swooshed down in front of us. The Millionaire’s Sandwich kicked things off; layers of foie gras and pistachio were sandwiched in between a light and airy sponge, delightfully mixing sweet and savoury, with a salty aftertaste.
Next came raw beef with coal oil, served on mini corn tacos and finished off with duck egg yolks - an acquired taste that was pleasantly surprising especially given that I am the girl who usually orders her steak well-done and not a notch under. It was onto the turbot, which was the standout dish for me, as a flavoursome fish was served with a tangy turnip and horseradish mash. Dessert did not disappoint - Sea Buckhorn in the form of a bright orange fruity mousse, was served with a dollop of yogurt. After doing a bit of research, I found that as well as it making a delicious dessert, Sea Buckhorn is nutritious and great for the skin - a win-win all round.
To finish things off came a slate of sweets and treats in the form of green tea truffles, sour cherry fudge, white chocolate & rhubarb and pineapple and chilli macaroons (the macaroons had a slight kick which was the perfect finisher). We were also spoilt with a wine flight that the sommelier had perfectly paired with each dish to bring out the subtle notes and taste of each glass.
Nat Tofan is truly a culinary master and has stepped up to the task of running Manchester House with aplomb, creating a menu that stays true to the venue all while giving it his own unique stamp. The dishes are ambitious and enlightened, proving that when it comes to fine-dining, Manchester House knows its stuff.