[Manchester, city centre] Manchester House

We’ve eaten a number of meals at Manchester House since it opened in late 2013. It’s a good place for dinner but, truth be told, I don’t think it’s improving and that must be concern for anywhere aiming for Michelin stardom. One of elements that isn’t improving is the “a la carte” menu. It seems to shorten every time we go. And this time, there’s just two starters and five main courses (three of which are steaks). It makes for a very limited choice. Perhaps that’s the intent and they want to push you towards the multi-course tasting menu.

There’s no amuse bouche as you might expect at places of this level. There’s no bread, either. But you can order the “chef’s snacks” – actually the first three courses from the tasting menu. We didn’t bother as they seemed to be pretty much the same as last visit.

As to the two starters, they were both really good. One, a small fillet of halibut was perfectly cooked and came with a single king prawn and a lovely mushroom broth. The other, squab pigeon breast , cooked rare, as it should be, but it should still be possible to get crispy skin – if I can do it at home, a professional kitchen should be able to walk it. That came with a slice of crispy gingerbread with one of Aiden Byrne’s little tricks that was on the plate on our first visit in October 2013 – it’s what looks like a cherry but is actually a ball of foie in a cherry coating. It all works.

Fillet steak was ordered cooked to medium but came well on the way to rare. We hate having to send food back and didn’t, but many would have done. Also on the plate, an unadvertised halved bone filled with bone marrow and snails. There’s excellent chips – but nothing by way of vegetable or salad. It made for an unbalanced plate of food. The other plate was also unbalanced by a lack of any carbs. Other than that, there was seabass, pan fried but no crispy skin here, either. It sat in a tasty artichoke broth, along with some crisp salsify and cockles. It worked really well but a spud or two was really needed.

We then each ordered cheese. They’ve a good trolley full of cheese in perfect condition and you get to select six. The member of staff, who we presumed to be a supervisor as she wasn’t wearing the usual “uniform” of jeans and waistcoat, served up a generous portion. She did, however, regularly run her fingers through her hair to draw it off her face. We watched, with some concern, to make sure she didn’t then touch anything we were going to eat. The homemade crackers were almost literally light as a feather. Really lovely.

And then on to dessert. One a seasonal pairing of early rhubarb and yoghurt. The other, a sort of “textures of chocolate” dish, with crushed hazelnuts and, interestingly but successfully, a background note of liquorice which countered what would otherwise been an overly rich affair. Both of these were good.

So, a meal of ups and downs which hit another down note with coffee. It came and was pretty much cold. It was replaced (and, to be fair, comp’d) but the replacement was barely warmer.
Have to say that the member of staff who served us (except for the cheese) was excellent and, to our minds, a credit to the business – smiley and friendly but entirely knowledgeable about the food and completely at the top of her game.


Aiden Byrne has moved from his role head chef to a consultancy position within the Living Ventures group, helping with menu development. The new head chef is Nathaniel Tofan who was, I think, previously the sous chef.

Apparently the company will retain Byrne’s name with the restaurant marketing, although the relationship will now be much more “hands off”.

If you want my take on it, I think this is an acceptance that the search for a Michelin star is now over.

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Well, that hasnt lasted long!

North West Caterer reports Aiden is leaving Manchester House and Living Ventures. He’ll take up a head chef role at a new 300 cover restaurant opening in th city centre owned by London based D & D Restaurant Group. The Group owns some 30 places in the capital (of which I’ve actually heard of a couple). 300 covers? Not the sort of place likely to be looking for Michelin stardom. Innit?

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And, in something that typifies Byrne’s lack of staying power, Manchester Confidential reports that he is leaving 20 Stories - the new restaurant I mentioned - in March.

Gossip apparently has it that he is weighing up the recently closed Manchester House space. Although, perhaps not to put too fine a point a on it, that’ll be assuming he can find someone with more money than sense to be his financial backer.

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Well, he’s apparently found a backer and the deal is done.

The word on the street is that Manchester House could reopen within a couple of weeks.

We plan to go soon after it opens. Just in case, you know…


The new restaurant, “Restaurant Mcr” opened a week ago, according to reports. At the time of writing, I can’t find a website which seems remiss of Byrne’s PR, which usually never misses a trick to promote him.

(PS: for those not familiar with the Rainy City, “Mcr” is the usual abbreviation for Manchester)


Byrne says: “We are so happy to be able to make this happen before Christmas, but we just had to make it work. So many people made contact when the news broke last week. While it’s been a crazy week turning this around, it means that we can bring back the tasting menu and get back to basics, doing what I love; sending food and watching as our customers connect with the food."

“While we are focused on delivering an experience and the twelve course tasting menu, the key ingredient for the new restaurant is putting the guest at the heart of everything we’re doing. If our guests want something other than what is on the menu, if we have the ingredients, then we can make it work for them.”

It also says here… ‘the choice of six or twelve courses offer the best way to experience the full breadth of his extraordinary skill and exceptional flavour combinations’.

Extraordinary… exceptional… why the sudden modesty?

For further information visit www.restaurantMCR.com

Link does not work :grinning:


IMO, of course.

Unless in exceptional circumstances (I’m thinking the likes of L’Enclume and Moor Hall), relying on a tasting menu is well past it’s sell-by date. It was an issue that we had with Manchester House. You go and eat it but then, when you come back in six months you find it’s exactly the same food. It has to be spectacular to want to eat it again (I’ll probably make an exception for Moor Hall).

Give me a short carte any day and I’ll be a happy camper. We’re off to Northcote later in the week. They have what is, to my mind, a perfect balance. Six course tasting menu, alongside a short seasonally changing carte with four choices at each course.

By the by, last time we were at Moor Hall, Byrne was there having dinner. Hopefully he may have learned something.

Your link to the restaurant website is working - but there’s nothing there, apart from front page.

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