We discovered the joys of fine dining last year with visits to The Kitchin in Leith, Edinburgh and The Waterside Inn in Bray.
I really couldn’t think what to get Mr C for his birthday this year. In the end I’d heard so much about Simon Rogan at The French in Manchester that I thought we’d have to go…Mr C is a Lancashire lad having to live in Yorkshire for me so sometimes we have to get out our passports and cross the border.
My expectations were very high following everything I’d read and heard about The French and of course Simon Rogan’s Michelin starred restaurant L’Enclume in the north west.
We chose the six course tasting menu. One of the lovely parts of meals of this standard is the extras, there were two at the start of the meal with another bonus dessert at the end.
The first treat was a wonderful sight, an oyster shell with a pearl inside. This was actually made from celeriac and apple puree on a bed of onion dust. Just made your eyes and your mouth zing!
The second delight was a rye crisp with eel and lovage.
Next was the bread. I love how bread is becoming a feature in its own right. Well I am a ‘breadoholic’ so I’m glad it’s finally being recognised as a necessity when fine dining!
A white roll, a buttermilk brioche roll and a Manchester Ale roll. The brioche was out of this world and its memory will be with me for a long time. The dark ale bread was also divine if rather crusty.
The first course of our tasting menu was Maran yolk with peas, beans, anise hyssop and a broth of turnips. The broth was poured on once the dish was served to our table.
Ox in coal oil, pumpkin seed, hohlrabi and sunflower shoots
I am actually a really fussy eater and am trying to change my palate by eating in restaurants like The French. Some days this works, other days I struggle and I knew that this might be the course to do it. Though saying that I did eat half of my meat and found the tastes amazing when all eaten together. Mr C enjoyed this course so much that he ate half of mine!
Next came Caramalised cabbage with mussels, picked mushrooms, chicken skin and arrow grass.
I am so sorry but I stuggled with this as I don’t like mussels or mushrooms. I did try but do apologise that Mr C had to eat two of these dishes. Good job that Mr C really enjoyed this course!
Cumbrian suckling lamb, onion, Blewitts with sheepsmilk.
Mr C ate all four sweetbreads. He said they were the most amazing part of the dish. I thought the lamb was delicious and the jus was divine, this was poured over the lamb at the table. Mr C was very impressed with his gravy! As I’ve already said I’m not a mushroom fan but the Blewitts were really unusual, more of an earthy taste.
Cheshire rhubarb, camomille pineappleweed and gooseberry.
I am a dessert girl and this was amazing. We’ve got gooseberries and rhubarb in our garden so I’m thinking they’ll make an amazing jam!
I loved the rusticness and the simplicity of the crockery. Obviously Simon Rogan’s own design with ‘Rogan’ printed on the underside.
We then had a surprise extra dessert. It looked very intriguing when a small bottle was brought to our table. A bottle of Sarsaparilla and what dark and heavenly elixir it was. Sarsaparilla three ways, cordial, parfait and meringue. This was delicious a perfect final course to such a lovely well thought out, and delicious meal that had been presented in such pretty platefuls.
One of my favourite parts of a meal are the petite fours at the end of a meal, the desserts had been wonderful but now to order the sweet treats and a coffee.
Aerated chocolate with Uncle Joe’s Mint Ball ice cream and Chocolate Crisps.
Mmmmm divine. I’m not a mint chocolate fan but this little chocolate tower made me doubt this, the most heavenly mint chocolate ever.
Loved the fact that the coffee cafetiere gave me around four cups of delicious coffee.
We also ordered a couple of cocktails and the menu had some amazing names and flavours on it.
We’re not wine drinkers though we did look at the wine menu, bottles ranged from £30 to almost £600 with the most expensive Champagne at £200 a bottle. Don’t be too alarmed, this is the world of fine dining and if you just want to drink a couple of bottles of sparkling water with your meal you’re allowed to!
Fine dining is becoming much more accessible so go on and treat yourself!
Highly recommend a meal at The French. Simon Rogan sources local produce and everything looks and tastes amazing. Just remember to book well in advance as this is becoming a very popular Manchester eatery. Will it get a Michelin Star or two in the future? Only time will tell!
Simon Rogan at ‘The French’
The Midland Hotel
0161 236 3333
I have not been asked or paid to make this review. All comments are my own.