If you had snooped in my diary over the past couple of months, you’d be forgiven for thinking I was having a sordid affair with chef, Marco Pierre White. Those three words (which I will abbreviate to ‘MPW’ from here on in when referring to the man himself) have been scribbled in my calendar three times already this summer so it would likely raise a suspicious eyebrow for those who don’t follow my blog.
However, if you’re an avid Hungry Harriet reader – or even just a part-time nosey parker – you’ll know by now that it’s actually because I’ve been lucky enough to try out a few of the new Marco Pierre White restaurants that have opened across the country recently. I’ve covered Wheeler’s of St. James’s in the Liverpool Pullman Hotel, I’ve covered the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse at the DoubleTree Hilton in Chester and this time, it’s the turn of Mr White’s English Chophouse on Manchester’s vibrant Canal Street.
In order to explain the thinking behind MPW’s new Manchester eatery, we must first start with a quick history lesson…
Way before your grandma’s grandma was even born, chop houses existed to provide the social elite with a place to go and indulge in the fine cuts of meats that the lower echelons of society could merely drool over. They were about indulgence, glamour and most importantly of all – lavish, hearty dining. That is what MPW is trying to emulate with his 21st Century interpretation of old British tradition.
The restaurant sits beneath ground level in Manchester’s famous gay quarter, below the opulent Velvet Hotel on Canal Street so decadence and glam is almost innate. The venue is intimate and stylish with a rich palette of velvet furniture and rose gold accents, all offset against the signature Marco Pierre White monochrome photography.
It’s urban, it’s modern and it’s bold in presenting its competition against the three famous chop houses which have been feeding the people of Manchester for many, many years. So how does it measure up?
Well as I said in my review of the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse in Chester, all of the MPW experiences I’ve had thus far have been a rollercoaster of emotions and this one is included. The menu is a collection of classic English dishes with his synonymous French flair, all of which are mouth-watering on paper but only half of which tend to measure up in the execution.
I’ve found that you either get served a knockout dish at an MPW restaurant or something that transpires to be so uncharacteristically mediocre. In the knockout corner this time we had the Wheeler’s Crispy Calamari (£8.95), the Baked Camembert and the Roast Rump of Lamb Dijonnaise (£22.50). All of these were as close to perfect as it gets and quite clearly prepared with an expert hand.
In the not-so-great corner we had ‘The French’ burger (£12.95) with melted cheese, onion rings and dijonnaise, as well as the two sweets we chose from the menu: the Affogato (£6.25) and the Fresh Blueberry Cheesecake (£6.25). The burger was lacking in flavour and slightly downmarket in appearance, while the cheesecake was just nothing much more than pleasant. Again, there wasn’t anything particularly offensive about the Affogato but for the price, we were rather surprised to find it didn’t come served with the traditional shot of Amaretto that we were expecting.
What we were lacking in Amaretto, we ended up making up for in two stellar choices from the Mr White’s English Chophouse drinks menu. You know how much I love my gins so I decided to sample a new distill and went for the Raspberry Infused Manchester Gin with tonic. It was absolutely divine and perfect for newcomers to the gin scene who want to start off with something more subtle, or those of you who love a berry-based G&T. My other half went for an Australian Sauvignon which I’m told was equally fresh and delicious.
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There is now a beautiful bottle of the raspberry Manchester Gin sitting on my shelf at home and the name of the wine on a piece of paper, ready to refer back to when we next have somme dinner guests who appreciate a good vino blanco!
I was very kindly invited to review Mr White’s English Chophouse but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.