Restaurant Review: WOOD – Manchester, Jack Rosenthal Street in Manchester
I’m a huge fan of MasterChef. I’ve spent many evenings parked in front of my TV, drooling at the incredible dishes the amateur chefs prepare under the scrutiny of John Torode and Greg Wallace. For years, I’ve longed to try the food, which is why I was beyond delighted when Master Chef’s 2015 winner, Simon Wood, opened WOOD restaurant in Manchester.
WOOD only opened its doors in September 2017, but it’s already made an impact on Manchester’s restaurant scene, boasting a full house of diners most nights. My Mother and I were lucky enough to dine there in January and I can report it lived up to Simon’s winning reputation.
Since being crowned MasterChef champion, Wood has worked his socks off, taking on the role of sous-chef in several kitchens, trying to lap up as much professional experience as possible. It’s crazy to think he was working as a full-time computer technician pre-2016, but you wouldn’t know it from his plates.
Simon is always present and seemingly calm at his restaurant; the open plan kitchen allows diners to see him in action and, from the few hours we were there, we didn’t observe any heated exchanges! He also made the effort to serve a least one dish to each table – he obviously doesn’t need to do this, but it makes a real difference to the dining experience.
We were there to sample the 5-course tasting menu; I went for the pescatarian option and my Mother went for the meat feast. Both of us thought the same thing throughout our dining experience: how much we appreciated being served almost full-sized portions – so often tasting menus leave me longing for more, but Wood served just the right amount.
A sure favourite for both my Mother and I was the Thai mushroom soup which packed an explosion of flavour. The coconut milk was perfectly spiced and worked well with the earthy shitake mushroom. I could have easily eaten another bowlful!
Mushrooms featured again, a few courses later, in the form of an award-winning ravioli and, as a mushroom lover, I was thrilled. The fresh pasta was cooked aldente, stuffed with mascarpone and served in a salty broth. After just one mouthful, it quickly became apparent why it is so highly-prized.
My Mother’s top course was the braised beef cheek which was soaked in a rich burnt jus. The rare meat was lean, tender and packed with flavour and served alongside beetroot powder, artichoke and mushroom. Wood knows how to work earthy flavour combinations!
Another highlight for both of us was the scallops and apple; it’s a combination I’ve not tried before but can’t wait to have again. The fish wasn’t swamped in oil and had a gorgeous crispy finish. The juicy apple puree was almost tart in taste and complimented the salty scallop. It truly is a five star dish.
After being spoilt with stunning starters and mains, it was time for dessert. The pudding on the tasting menu is inspired by the one that helped Simon secure the Master Chef title – a creamy lemon posset served with a crumbling, buttery shortbread, perfect for dunking. It’s sweet, gooey and incredibly moreish.
In terms of atmosphere, the venue is smart and suitable for business meets, as well as being a fab setting for a romantic date. If you’ve only got time for a cocktail, there’s a comfortable bar area to relax and enjoy these delectable concoctions, which I can highly recommend! WOOD is located directly opposite the arts centre HOME, making it an ideal destination for pre-theatre dining.
I can’t speak highly enough of the service we were treated to – every member of staff was extremely knowledgeable and couldn’t do enough to assist. In true Mancunian style, this is a first-class restaurant which doesn’t do pretentious. I, for one, can’t wait to return for my second serving!
Address: Jack Rosenthal Street, Manchester M15 4RA
Phone: 0161 236 5211