(manchester, city centre) Abode

This was the fifth time we’ve eaten at Abode but the first since 2* chef, Michael Caines, ended his partnership with the Abode Group. We were interested to see if it had made a difference. It hadn’t – perhaps unfortunately. We’ve always been a little underwhelmed by the restaurant and the food continues to be underwhelming. It’s not that there’s anything really wrong with it – but everything seems a bit under seasoned and, indeed, underflavoured. And it’s not at all cheap. Now, I don’t mind spending significant sums of money on dinner but this just didn’t seem like value for that money.

We were lulled into hoping that things might be really good. The amuse bouche was excellent – a chilled beetroot and horseradish soup was sweet, earthy and poky – all at the same time. On to starters, long cooked pigs cheek was as tender as you like but this should be rich and unctuous and just wasn’t. It came with a crispy broccoli bonbon which was perhaps the best thing on the plate, and a scattering of seeds, cheffily described as a granola. There were bits and bobs of a “textures of carrot” – batons of a dark heritage variety, shavings of another, a carrot puree and a scattering of wispy carrot tops. It wasn’t a bad attempt. The other plate was described as a salad of summer vegetables but was pretty much a carrot salad. There was horseradish in there, but it was barely noticeable.

There was beef at a “they see you coming” price of £28. Two tiny pieces of underseasoned fillet, accurately cooked to medium rare. It comes with long cooked ox cheeks which, like the earlier pig braise, was simply bland and boring. There’s broccoli and spinach counting towards the five a day. Pollock had been given a bit of bang-on cooking – still just translucent, you wouldn’t want it any less cooked, or any more. There’s a cockle broth which had little flavour. Cabbage and pearl barley came together like stuffed vine leaves. Good idea but seasoning was woefully lacking.

Perhaps needless to say, we didn’t bother with dessert. We did have coffee which came with very indifferent petit fours.

I don’t think we’ve a need to rush back any time this decade.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold