Kaleido is one of those restaurants that has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time. One thing that has put me off advancing it to the top of the list is the mixed reviews that it seems to have been getting.
With regards to ‘reviews’, I am usually at great pains to point out that my blog is not a ‘review site’. It’s a personal blog. I insist that I do not write ‘restaurant reviews’ - I do not use any rating system; I rarely say ‘you must go’ or ‘don’t go’ and I do not include any useful information such as prices, the address or phone numbers.
My blog is where I share my eating experiences; that is all. I started my blog for a few simple reasons. One was to give myself a hobby that was more productive than building a farm on Facebook; which, sad as it sounds, did indeed take up a lot of my time before I started Hungry Hoss.
Other reasons for writing the blog include wanting to develop my writing skills. I’ve always been more of a mathematical or artistic person and, as a primary school teacher, felt I needed to do something to enable me to teach literacy betterer.
As someone with a short attention span, hobbies I have taken up have usually fallen by the wayside. My parents readily tell you about the thousands of pounds they spent on fishing equipment, musical instruments, sports gear and alike.
The reason I have continued with the blog, I feel (apart from an obvious love of food), is that through writing, I particularly relish reliving the memory of a good meal through preserving and extending the experience. Part of this often includes carrying out a little research (maybe on the location, building, chef, dish or and ingredient), which I also enjoy.
It’s for these reasons that I do not always write up negative experiences. Why would I want to ‘relive’ a bad meal? Well, here goes. My experience was thus:
I hadn’t planned to go to Kaleido today but as I crossed Exchange Square, the glimmering Urbis, looking resplendent in the rare Manchester sunshine caught my eye.
Shaped like a lady’s wedge shoe, Kaleido Restaurant is located in the ‘heel’ of the Urbis building (on the 5th floor with its bar on the 6th) and has its own entrance and lift.
As I stepped from the lift, I was greeted by a waiter who ushered me into the empty dining room. It’s an impressive space with great aerial views of Manchester. I took the best seat in the house, looking directly along Corporation Street and enjoyed the view whilst waiting for the menu or someone to take my drink order.
I waited a little longer. Then I got out of my seat to check out the views from the other windows - Great view of the Corn Exchange and Manchester Cathedral. Great view of the Printworks clock. I sat and waited and fiddled with my phone. Eventually, I thought I’d start my stopwatch to see how much longer I’d have to wait (3 minutes and 4 seconds).
I don’t know if the waiter had forgotten I was there or was just not used to having customers but after eight minutes I finally had a menu in my hands and a drink on its way. The menu read well and there was a reasonable looking ‘Express Lunch’ menu offering 3 courses for £19.00.
I ordered from the à la Carte. To start: a Salt cod brandade with duck yolk, capers and rye. For mains: Venison haunch, cavolo nero, parsley gnocchi, beetroot and juniper.
The last Salt cod brandade I ate was just last month at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (see here). Whilst I was obviously not expecting it to be as good as Claire Smyth’s which was warm, rich and fibrous, I was not prepared for a highly chilled, under seasoned, creamy brandade that, at best, could be described as being akin to a ‘fish flavoured ice cream.’
The rye toasts were great and the caper elements were ok but could have had a little more ‘poke’ for my taste. Unable to shake the thought of a ‘fish flavoured ice cream’ and finding it generally bland, I did something which is extremely rare for me and left half of it uneaten.
My venison dish was not at all unpleasant. The meat had been cooked well enough and had good flavour. The kale was both perfectly cooked and seasonal. The sweet beetroot and piney (almost rosemary-like) juniper balanced the dish well. The disappointment with my main came from my side of ‘Triple cooked chips’.
In my opinion, there is little better than a perfect triple cooked chip. Sadly, the thicker parts of some of the chips remained undercooked. I can understand how a ‘once cooked’ chip could be undercooked… but a ‘triple cooked’? ‘ Barely cooked chips’ would have been a more fitting description.
At this point I was conscious of getting a headache. At first I thought it was from the warm sun streaming through the windows but then I realised something that else that had been unsettling me; sat under the stairs I could hear both the music from the bar upstairs and that of the restaurant clanging in my head – a rather tuneless mix of up-tempo jazz and ‘chilled lounge sounds’.
I skipped what I thought would also be a disappointing dessert and bought an ice-cream to enjoy in the sunshine instead. For the view alone I’d be happy to return to see if it was just a ‘bad day’ as some feedback on Twitter seemed to suggest.