Includes free wine flight
Here’s something to get excited about this winter…
The ever-changing five course taster menu at James Martin Manchester is an absolute belter. Not for nothing is this place in Confidential’s Top 100 Restaurants in the North. Every dish represents the best of the season and, when the weather is as cold and dreary as this, it’s good to know that there are good points to this time of year – namely the stunning ingredients used by Head Chef, Doug Crampton, long James Martin’s right-hand man.
The menu is a delight; dishes come and go to reflect seasonal availability so you know everything you taste is going to be as perky as when it was pulled from the ground, tasting exactly as it should and on its best behaviour – no slouchers here.
It’s enough to put a smile on anyone’s face on even the bleakest of days but as if that’s not enough, you can enjoy free matching wines in January and February. The five-course tasting menu is only £30pp – including the wine flight – from Monday to Friday which is a nifty saving of £17.50pp. Winter blues, what winter blues?
If you’ve made New Year’s resolutions and you’re sticking with them, there is also a five-course vegetarian tasting menu available and, with advance notice, you can also enjoy the pleasures of fine dining with a vegan tasting menu. Giving up something never felt like such a luxury.
Cheese and Onion
A classic combination but a world away from a bag of Walkers. It’s paired with prosecco for a start which goes down a treat with the accompanying cheese palmiers which have just the right amount of snap. The main event is a hollowed-out salt-baked onion filled with a Westcombe cheddar custard, a light and moreish mousse made of the sweet baked onion and Doug Crampton’s own take on Branston Pickle. Let’s just say if there’s another fire at the pickle factory like the famous conflagration of 2004, the nation can rest easy. In fact, the firefighters can rest easy – let it burn. This stuff is even better.
Braised Pork and Apple Faggot
Why is it that people turn their noses up at cheaper cuts at meat when they have all the flavour? Numpties. This dish is a real standout – lowly pork shoulder, pork belly and liver are elevated way past your Grandad would have. Just think of this as probably the best meatball you’ll ever have. Peppery spices and burnt apple purée are folded through and it’s glazed in Welsh mountain cider. The faggots are served on a bed of mash made with about a block and a half of butter. This dish is something like a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – decadent deliciousness from humble beginnings. But no ears. Don’t worry.
BBQ Miso Glazed Cod
After the hearty wintriness of the braised pork faggots, this dish has a cleanness and a delicacy which switches things round. The juxtaposition of the different styles of cooking gives you a greater appreciation of each plate of food. It’s a celebration of cod which is marinated in sake, soy sauce, rice vinegar and mirin but also of Yorkshire rhubarb which is just coming into its own at the moment. The sweetness of the cod and the perfect sour tang of the rhubarb puree is like a take on sweet and sour but with a freshness that’s not often associated with such a dish.
No, this hasn’t been nicked from some local landed gentry’s estate but it has been poached on the crown in a flavoursome stock that’s packed full of herbaceous aromats for a tender, juicy mouthful. The legs and offal have been minced down to make a powerful ragú that’s wrapped in a hispi cabbage leaf and it’s all balanced with a sensational parsley root purée that brings the dish together.
Caramelised White Chocolate Marquise
The showstopper dessert. It wouldn’t be a meal at James Martin Manchester without one. The sweetness of the white chocolate and the rich caramel flavours are big tastes that don’t disappoint but the star of the show is the blood orange marmalade made with the first of the new season’s fruit and studded with fresh segments too. When seasonal ingredients are this good, let’s hope winter sticks around for a bit longer.