[Manchester, city centre] 20 Stories

Lunch at 20 Stories was a very thoughtful Virgin Experience gift from a family member (Thanks, Dan). And, like all the best gifts, this one comes with a bit of glitz and glamour. It’s located in Hardman Square in Spinningfields, almost on the spot where I used to work at the College of Building, on the then Hardman Street in the early 1970s. It’s on the 19th floor of the building. Yes, I know – 20 Stories yet 19th Floor. But that’s stories, not storeys (I knew that English Language “O” Level would come in useful one day). So, I have a story to tell about lunch.

So, the glitz and glamour bit. Well, I suppose it starts with the view. It’s the best restaurant view in the city by far. It was a sunny day and you could see for miles, even if the foreground was Salford. The room is very modern with the restaurant bit at one end and a large bar area at the other. And there’s the outside terrace which I bet is lovely in July. And there’s the staff, also all very trendy but also, so thin that you’d think the restaurant could do with feeding them up.

There’s a good looking “a la carte” menu but our gift was for the short fixed price lunch menu – three choices at each course. To start for one of us was a classic and well made Caesar salad. For the other, a crayfish and watermelon cocktail with a bit of salad, a Bloody Mary dressing and a bit of toasted brioche. No complaints there.

Roast chicken supreme came with champ, wilted cabbage and a very decent chickeny sauce. It’s just the sort of unchallenging plate of food that you’re going to enjoy hoovering up on a midweek lunchtime. Roast butternut squash wasn’t as successful but the issue wasn’t the “steak” of squash but the topping of a heavy drizzle of vegan cheese and a slight lack of seasoning. This is the second time we’ve been served vegan cheese in a restaurant. Hopefully it will be the last. Let’s be honest, this just isn’t cheese. And it isn’t very nice, either. There’s a scattering of frisee and pinenuts. We shared a tomato salad.

The third course was probably the most successful. One of us took the lemon tart. Crisp pastry, quite a lemony filling, a fabulous raspberry sorbet (which may have been the best thing I ate) and a sprinkling of chocolate soil. Chocolate, raspberry, chocolate – what’s not to like. Across the table, a plate of cheese. In pre-Covid times, they served this from a trolley but now the server reels off the half dozen or so available cheeses and it’s plated in the kitchen. So, the choice was made for a Wensleydale, a lightly smoked Cheddar and Shorrocks Lancashire Bomb (which is probably the finest Lancashire you’re going to come across). And it’s a generous portion of each, set out on a wooden board, along with lovely homemade crackers and chutney. And a small piece of fruit cake and slices of celery. Pretty much a classic presentation in this part of the world and, wonder of wonders, it wasn’t fridge cold as so many places serve it, ruining the flavour. . And they give you a knife and fork to eat it with, in the French fashion. Full marks all round.

We finished with good espresso.


The cheese plate sounds spectacular. Hope your dining companion shared. :laughing:

Indeed she did. It was the best cheese plate we’ve had in quite a while.


A cheeky word-play - reminds me of The Forth Floor on Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh’s take on London’s legendary The Fifth Floor on Harvey Nichols. Whilst its London counterpart overlooked Mayfair from its perch, the Scottish one looked out towards the Firth of Forth.

Sounded like a dream. :heartbeat:

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