I’ve often seen others with them. Eyecatching and fascinating – but also slightly repulsive in their ostentatiousness. The platters at Livebait are certainly something to behold.
And I’ve now had my first. After many years of weighing up the menu in Manchester’s best known fish restaurant and plumping for something else, we finally devoured the classic platter for two. Well it is national seafood week.
But the platter is not just about the food – there’s a whole ceremony to the experience.
* First the cutlery arrives. Forget knives and forks (or chopsticks of you’re one of my international blog readers) this is serious eating equipment which wouldn’t be out of place in a surgeon’s drawer. There’s implements to crash, crack, poke, prod and puncture all lined up in an order which seems important – but probably isn’t
* Next there’s display – a stand arrives at the table together with bowls and finger bowls.
* Then there’s the arrival. Que gasps from fellow diners and the feeling of guilty pleasure that this mountain of seafood, positioned high so that everyone else can see it as well, is all for you. How decadent!
So into the food. It’s all piled high on ice and contains a vast assortment which, depending on your taste for seafood, is a heaven or hell of creatures from the ocean floor.
There’s prawn a plenty – big ones, small ones, brown ones – there’s green-lipped mussels, whelks, clams and then there’s oysters.
My first oysters. It seemed the right venue, the right companion (Himself of course!), the right setting and the right occassion to lose my oyster virginity.
I was nervous, the tabasco was waiting (the other diners semed to me to be taking far too much interest by this point) so there was no going back. And it was excellent.
A new naughty habit to be indulged at suitable eateries from now on. The taste of the sea was sweet and its transportation of the lemon and tabasco in a gluggable journey was divine. Why has it taken me this long to discover them?
Probably something to do with experiences like this and that displayed by Brian on the Hell’s Kitchen last series.
Back to the platter, a fresh set of bowls and finger bowls has to be delieverd in an attempt for us to finish it all – which we didn’t.
Verdict: The classic platter is an experience to be enjoyed. If you like seafood then presumably, like the old joke about see food and eat it, you’ll enjoy lots of seafood.
My only criticism was that the ice mountain means that some of the fruits de la mer became too cold over the course of the course and that the impressive looking crab crown is just that – for looks. Disappointingly, there’s no dressed crab inside those shells.
But it’s not just about the food – the platter is an event, an experience and a celebration of simple pleasures.
Livebait is at 18-22 Lloyd St, Manchester, M2 5WA. 0161 817 4110