Restaurant Review: Adam Reid at The French at The Midland Hotel in Manchester
The Midland Hotel in Manchester is truly stunning. I can’t walk past without lovingly gazing at the large arched Edwardian windows or admiring the gorgeous amber bricks – no, I didn’t know until I set eyes on the Midland that a building could provoke such strong feelings! This grand building was built back in 1903 and quickly gained a reputation for being one of the city’s finest establishments and, over 100 years on, I’m pleased to say the status still holds.
Everything about The Midland is quintessentially British. Upon walking into the foyer, guests are greeted by doormen in top hats and invited into a large marble reception area. Despite having had a huge renovation, it’s clear to see a real effort has been made to keep the original design.
As well as being a hotel, The Midland is home to two restaurants: Mr Cooper’s House & Garden and Adam Reid at The French. On a crisp evening in late October, my best friend, Jodie, and I were lucky enough to try out the latter.
The French is tucked away in the corner of The Midland’s lobby and feels very French indeed. Plush green booths sit beneath two, huge, stunning chandeliers, which after a few glasses of wine, begin to look more like disco balls. The walls are painted in a fresh pistachio shade of green which compliments the velvety cream carpets. Very photogenic indeed.
The kitchen, as the name suggests, is headed up by Adam Reid, an award winning chef, born and bred in Manchester. If the name feels familiar, you may have seen him acing it on the BBC 2 series, The Great British Menu. Not only did he take part but he won a place at a Westminster banquet with his spectacular dessert – The Golden Empire – which sits proudly on The French’s pudding menu. (more on that later!)
Adam wasn’t there on the night we dined, but you wouldn’t have noticed, as the food was top notch. We tried the 9 course menu with beverage pairings and literally enjoyed every single element.
Like most multi-course dinners, the portions were small and light. One of my favourites was the cod roe dip with squid and seaweed crackers – move over the humble nacho, this is my new preference for dunking! The crackers were flavoursome and worked well with the salty dip.
Another highlight was the whipped cheese mousse, which was topped with parmesan coated cavolo nero. It was oh so rich and pure heaven to taste. I think the Great British public are united in thinking cheese and wine is up there with the best food pairings, so naturally we were delighted when it was served with a glass of rich, velvety red.
Adam Reid’s menu is immensely exciting. Not only is he creative with texture and flavour combinations but he also succeeds in taking diners on a culinary journey. It’s clear the plates have been carefully planned to follow smoothly on from one another.
As I mentioned earlier, the courses consist of small portions and reasonable servings of alcohol, which is perhaps why bread is the 5th course. Just as we were beginning to feel tipsy, the chefs answered our prayers and sent carbs our way. And they were pretty special! Diners are given two chunky slices of bread made with locally brewed ale, all served with herb butter. I could have eaten a whole loaf – but I resisted because more delicious courses were heading my way.
Of all the savoury courses, my favourite was the almond poached brill served with artichoke and shitake mushroom. The fillet flaked beautifully and worked well with the earthy flavoured vegetables and the glass of Italian Rose. Having said that, the trout, served with sauerkraut and a rich cherry sauce, was equally as appealing.
A short while later, it was time for pudding, or puddings in this case. First up was the chocolate clementine, a delicate sugar case, carefully sculpted into an orange shape. In keeping with the natural theme, it sat upon a mound of (white chocolate) soil. It was a dream.
From one fruit to another-this time it was the apple; probably the most calorific I’ve ever eaten, but arguably also the tastiest. This ‘golden apple’ dessert, which helped Adam win a spot at a London banquet for the Queen, consisted of aerated custard, frozen apple and a delicious crumb. After just one mouthful, it became apparent why it’s an award-winning dessert.
Although The French feels upmarket, it has not forgotten its edgy Manchester routes. In contrast to the rather luxurious interior, the music playlist boasts a selection of local sounds from Oasis to The Smiths and Stone Roses. It’s a welcome reminder that you’re dining in one of the UK’s greatest cities.
In short, a night at The French is a must with five star food, a world class drinks menu and beautiful surroundings. Manchester is often regarded as a city without Michelin stars but, if Adam keeps up the standard of dining they currently have, I’m sure this won’t be the case forever.
Address: The Midland Hotel, Peter St, Manchester M60 2DS
Phone: 0161 235 4780