There is one restaurant in Manchester I have wanted to try for a very, very long time – the very aptly named Manchester House and Lounge. It’s been the talk of the town since it opened in 2013 and is considered one of the best restaurants outside of the M25! It’s run by Aiden Byrne, the youngest-ever winner of the so very coveted Michelin Star. And to add to that, it’s a venture by Living Ventures – the restaurant giants who also own another favourite restaurant of mine – Australasia.
Manchester House and Lounge is a £3million venture, the kitchen alone cost over £300,000 with over 25 chefs working on Aiden Byrne’s team – that definitely can’t be cheap. And that’s reflected in the pricing – the taster menu alone costs £95 per head here. And Tim Bacon (head honcho at Living Ventures) has had no reservations in making it clear that he wants to bring this restaurant on the Michelin map.
So I was excited. Really, really excited.
Will and Tess were up from London for the weekend, so we decided to book ourselves in for lunch and try out this little gem hidden in Spinningfields. Manchester House and Lounge is spread out on two floors – the restaurant is on the 2nd floor but they have a beautiful lounge on the 12th floor of this building. We decided to go straight to the restaurant for lunch and go up to the lounge after for a few drinks.
You walk through the open kitchen before you get to the dining area and you get a glimpse of all the chefs working their magic on the dishes being served. It’s sometimes quite easy to forget the amount of work that goes into preparing each dish and the open design of the kitchen here gives you a nice view of the chefs putting the final touches to their masterpieces.
We were shown to our table (pictured above) by the wonderful hostess and were presented with menus. The Manchester inspired decor at this restaurant is sophisticated raw and earthy – the exposed bricks on show, the giant cotton plant sculptures all add character and brings this decor together beautifully.
I love how flexible the menu is at Manchester House – you can go for the A la carte menu obviously but you also have the option to try a smaller version of the extensive taster menu if you don’t fancy 13 courses or want to keep it cheap. We decided to go for the lunch taster menu and definitely weren’t disappointed.
We started lunch off with Parmesan and Onion Brioche served with Caramelised Onion Butter and Onion Consommé topped with Parmesan Foam. The Parmesan and onion brioche was absolutely wonderful – soft in the middle with a cheesy crusty top. They tasted even better dipped in the onion consommé and parmesan foam with a side of the caramelised onion butter. I was expecting this dish to be overpowering with all the onion but the flavours were delicate and really tasty.
For my ‘Beginning’ course, I ordered the French Asparagus, King Crab and Blood Oranges. The King crab was cooked perfectly and went really well with the rose pickled shallots and the crunchy asparagus. The only thing I didn’t like was the blood orange side, it was beautifully done but just wasn’t for me. I felt so guilty eating this dish because it looked so beautiful on the plate. It remind me of spring, the flavours were fresh and just looking at this colourful dish made me happy.
Will and Seb went for the Roasted Celeriac and Truffle Soup with Poached Chicken for their starter. It was art on a plate and I love the thought that goes into each dish. The soup came with a side plate shaped like a freshly hatched egg complete with straw!
For our ‘Middle’ courses, Will and I ordered the Roasted Goosnargh Duck Breast served with Poached Figs, Jabugo Ham and Confit Tongue. The flavours on this plate were phenomenal. The earthy fragrant flavours of the fig perfectly contrasted the crunchy texture of the confit tongue. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
Tess and Seb went for the Poached Salmon served with Razor Clams, Sea Urchin and Butterhead Lettuce for their middle course. I stole a quick bite from Tess’ plate and the salmon was just amazing – simple yet so full of flavour. I have never tried Sea Urchin before and I definitely will be trying more of this nutritious green beauty!
For my ‘End’ course, I ordered the Honey and Vanilla Parfait with Pomegranate and Rhubarb. The honey and vanilla parfait was creamy and literally melted in my mouth. I loved how fresh this dessert was; the pomegranate and the rhubarb completed this dish wonderfully.
Will decided to be different and went for the Chocolate, Violet and Honeycomb. I had serious food envy when this dish arrived. It looked absolutely amazing and tasted just as good!
Just when we thought we were done, our waiter brought out two boxes and left it on the table.
And I opened it and it was MACAROONS!I absolutely love macaroons and our waitress very kindly talked us through the different flavours which included chocolate, passionfruit and my favourite lime and basil. I could have easily devoured another box on my own.
3 bottles of wine and 5 courses in, we decided to call it a day and went up to the 12th floor lounge to end our meal with a few drinks and quite an impressive view of the city.
The restaurant food and wine menu is quite simple but the cocktail menu is as fat as War and Peace! Its complicated and you feel like your reading a storybook and need to spend some considerable time before you actually find a drink you like. But we found one in the end.
A few Espresso Martinis were exactly what we needed as we watched the sunset on the beautiful Manchester skyline.
The service at Manchester House and Lounge is probably some of the best I have seen at any restaurant in Manchester. It’s relaxed, yet sophisticated and the waiters and servers really go out of their way to make you feel comfortable – and trust me this kind of service is rare. The hostess sent our coats up to the 12 floor so that we didn’t have to take them upstairs ourselves – it’s the small things that make a difference and Manchester House and Lounge have got this cracked to a T.
The food is what makes Manchester House and Lounge special – it’s sophisticated well thought out flavours just done really well. It’s not gimmicky nor is it trying too hard. The ambience is brilliant, the service is spot on but the food holds its own. Aidan and Tim are definitely onto a winner with Manchester House and Lounge.
I think I have a new favourite in Manchester. There I said it!