As a die-hard foodie with a northern heart, I was dead happy to be invited to review James Martin’s restaurant at Manchester235.
Tucked away within the casino itself, you’d never know where to find it – unless, well, you knew. On a mezzanine level above Vega Lounge, the restaurant immediately established its caliber. Ponce up the stairs and be met with a sleek grand piano, tables with more utensils than I’m perhaps used to and embroidered chairs that prompt a proper posture. Gaze over at the “meat market” to the left to view a selection of aged, hanging meats as though at a butcher’s shop. Exposed brick ceilings and large horseshoe booths made for a hint of countryside friendliness, whilst the “James Martin” sign promised an evening of star quality food yet to come.
The Food and Drink
James Martin might be known for a variety of hearty home comforts on a Saturday Morning, but our six course tasting menu proved his skill in refinery. We were dazzled from the get-go, starting with a delicate plate of Halibut Carpaccio, then onto a dish of 50 day aged beef with kimchi, smoked mayonnaise and jerky. I don’t usually like the thought of jerky, but it went so perfectly with the ensemble that I polished it off and am now a jerky convert. Then came the star of the show: the Himalayan Salt-aged Lamb. The first bite was one of those where you give your dining partner that knowing look, followed by a slow nod… no words necessary. A fresh Mango and Coconut dessert cleansed the palate, before a whopping Caramelised Muscovado Tart thanked our taste buds one last time.
The wine menu also had class, with everything between £4.95 glasses of Spanish Macabeo to £365 bottles of Crystal. We opted for something in-between, with a delicate glass of Peter and Peter Pinot Noir from Germany (8.50) and a refreshing Italian Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio (£7.90).
The Atmosphere and Clientele
Due to its discreet location, there wasn’t a walk-in customer in sight. Reserved for those in-the-know, James Martin diners can sip on French Sauvignon De Touraine and sample their measured mouthful of poached lobster at their leisure. You wouldn’t head here for a laugh with the pals, it’s purely for those looking to appreciate fine food and drink and have no desire to steal the attention away from it. Those looking to impress their dates, reward their studious daughters, meet with dear old friends united as the unknowing foodie bourgeois for the night in Manchester’s city centre. A vocalist sat playing modern pop songs in a soft, lounge style as a welcome, friendly background murmur.
If you like to be dazzled by haute cuisine, James Martin’s Restaurant at Manchester235 is not to be missed.