After my dirty meat munching last week, it was healthy respite to find myself in the spacious, opulent surroundings of Opus One at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester.
Decked out in red and black with starched white cloths the cosy, upmarket bar opens out in to the capacious dining room. The staff are professionally absent, yet there as soon as you need them. They’re polished, knowledgeable and the place runs like unstuffy clockwork.
The menu is a nod to the current trend for seasonal, sustainable, local and British; interspersed with ingredients such as Vimto, Burt’s Blue, organic Framgord salmon, hand dived scallops and ‘rooftop thyme.’ I’m hoping this is off the actual hotel roof; I like to think of the little KP having to risk life and limb, scaling the front of the building and climbing on to the roof, all wind swept and thinking gallantly, “I must succeed to feed the diners of Manchester with the freshest and highest quality of produce..”
Back in the dining room (and away from the roof) I couldn’t resist the Burt’s Blue Tempura with vegetable pressing and am glad I chose it – little gooey blobs of Burt’s blue oozing out of rooftop thyme scented, light as a feather batter – the rich cheese set off beautifully by the cool terrine of British veg. The only down side was the the leek the terrine was wrapped in was a little slimy – no worries it hardly mattered and I slid it to one side.
My companion (yes we’re all posh in this post, so it’s companion) opted for the hand dived scallops – I may have just declared that those eaten at Grenache were the most massive ever, but these were a very close second. The accompanying crab, sweetcorn and scallion broth provided a wonderful sweet, earthy warmth to the shellfish and didn’t overpower at all – we could have just had a big bowl of the sauce and been quite happy.
The Radisson has got their service spot on, we waited for our mains – not too long, not too quick – enough time to listen to Lucy Hope who they had singing. Singing in a restaurant you say? Well I’ve never been keen but this was surprisingly unobtrusive, her repertoire limited to ‘old crooners’ and softly, softly in the background. If we hadn’t been able to see her it could just have been a very good CD.
My main of seabass was just cooked and arrived on a bed of samphire – not the overly salty, flaccid stuff you usually get; this was crunchy and just steamed perfection. The shrimp croquettes were massive and full to brim of the shrimpy little blighters (just the way I like it). The smoked cod broth was delicious and brilliant with the croquettes – all this was cut through by the tempura fennel – a great addition and created a well rounded and properly through out dish.
The main of butter baked turbot was sumptuous luxury to say the least – super creamy, but with much less on the plate than the seabass, just some saffron potatoes, greens and an accompanying sauce – however this was such a rich dish that it was ballsy/brilliant of the kitchen to send it to table so pared back and let us choose what accompaniments we though suitable – we chose saute potatoes with bacon, way too decadent, but we didn’t regret it (our waistlines did though).
To this point the food had been brilliant – we’d even had an inspired amuse bouche of prawn dumpling (light, salty, sweet, moreish) and kiwi gazpacho (spicy, tart, brilliant combination) and some very good homemade cheese bread – but now puddings came out and I was a little disappointed.
The texture of rhubarb was all one texture – soft. The was a very creamy parfait with the barest whiff of rhubarb, a little shot of compote with far too much cream on top and a crumble brulee – translated as overly sweet rhubarb compote with a brulee topping. The marbled ice chocolate parfait followed the same formula of three things on the plate – a creamy parfait, some melted chocolate in a pot and three of the tiniest skewers of marshmallows you have behold in your life – not worth £6.85. Shame, another great Manchester restaurant is let down by overly expensive, poorly executed puddings. Beware rant coming – restaurants need to look at their pudding offerings and stop using them as an excuse to make shed loads on some very basic ingredients. If you do need to make money this way, at least do something interesting. Rant over.
Bar the puddings Opus One is a fabulous place – it’s calm, serene, polished, a little posh without being stuffy or exclusive and most of the food is very, very good.
Price for two starters, two mains, one side and two puddings (amuse bouche and bread are included gratis with the meal) – £71.60
Food – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Service – 10/10
Value for money – 7/10 (let down by over expensive puddings, the other dishes are expensive, but are good sized portions and are very well executed)
Total – 34/40
Go again? Yes the food, service and setting are lovely – posh without being overbearing and a nice quiet space from the hustle and bustle of the city. I won’t be ordering pudding again though.
Please note the restaurant knew I was there to review them and my meal was free, however all views are my own and I am under no obligation to say nice things (as you can tell from my pudding rant).
Opus One, Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, Manchester M2 5GP – 0161 835 8904