My fifth meal at The French since Simon Rogan took over and I promised myself this post would be all about the food… no declarations of love like in the last post (see here) or dodgy footballing puns as in the one before that (here) just pictures and descriptions of the best food being served in Manchester at the moment.
One bit of news, ranking higher than a host of one, two and even a three Michelin starred restaurant(s), The French was voted 8th in Square Meal’s list of the 50 Best Out of London Restaurants, 2013 (see here).
In typical style, the meal started with a series of amuse bouche: a Rice cracker topped with potato mousse, celeriac emulsion and onion ash; a Parsnip crisp with pork belly, smoked eel, honey, Nigella seeds and fennel cress and a creative pickled Mussel set in an edible shell with a sea gelée & sea lettuce wafer.
Razor clams, egg yolk, celeriac & sea herbs – a dish of pure creamy, crunchy, garlicky, salty joy. I love the way the frothy clam espuma breaks upon the coarse almond and toasted garlic beech, strewn with sea herbs.
Breads – the usual selection Chestnut, French Stick & Manchester Ale.
Boiled sole, onions, truffle & leeks – this was amongst my favourite dishes on previous visits but on this occasion the broth seemed sweeter, slightly too much for my taste. I do love how the light creamy disc of poached sole melts into the broth imparting its subtle flavour throughout. For me, this was the only dish that fell short of perfection.
Ox in coal oil, pumpkin seed, kohlrabi, sunflower shoots & gorse flower – the beef rib-eye tartare is seemingly everyone’s favourite; it certainly is a dish of simplicity and beauty with a perfect synergy of flavours and textures.
Asparagus with Crevettes, watercress & duck skin – a new dish since my previous visit with charred asparagus and asparagus purée, plump sweet Crevettes salty duck skin scratchings and deliciously deep, rich, umami laden seafood bisque.
Late Spring Offerings, vegetables, herbs, flowers & lovage salt – I simply adore this dish; every mouthful is as different as it is joyous, permeated by Mr Tickler’s lovage salt.
Hake fillet with buckwheat, radish, sea beet & smoked roe butter – a stunning piece of fish, whose proteins had barely been set. The soft buckwheat and smoked roe butter / sauce harmonising in velvety perfection.
Reg’s Chicken, turnips, Russian kale & offal – another dish with a Herculean umami hit coming from the glossy reduction and heady heart and gizzard ‘fricassee’. With the kale and turnip adding an earthy freshness, the mouth-wateringly succulent chicken tasted how chickens “used to taste”.
Pear, meadow sweet and rye, buttermilk & linseeds – Simon Rogan’s desserts are rarely ‘decadent creations’ but you can not deny the quality of cooking and the synergy of flavours; although this dish does not “wow” it has certainly never failed to impress.
Sass ‘n’ Soda – a pretty pink dish with the added theatre of the tongue tingling sarsaparilla soda being poured at the table, Sass ‘n’ Soda is a fun dish and a fitting way to end a meal.