Little bits of tasty loveliness. All the best cuisines have them – think China’s Dim Sum, Spain’s tapas or the Mediterranean’s mezze – so why not the same approach for a more traditional fayre.
Well Michael Caines is the man to pull it off so we put him to the test by trying out the new “grazing menu” at ABode.
The decor of the hotel in Piccadilly can only be described as swish.
There’s the fashionably, comfortably, subtely shades-of-brown decor and a cocktail menu to delight the most serious sex-in-the city shopper before deciding on just which little piece of loveliness will grace your plate.
Unlike the little dishes of the aforementioned fame, this menu is designed to be eaten solo – no shared plates or everyone dipping in – so, feeling like a glutton, I selected four courses to kick things off.
The first to be served was the smoked eel salad (£5). If you think salad = a bowl of mess leaves + gloopy dressing think on.
The picture (left) doesn’t do credit to this dish of lentils and the most delicate, tender smoked fish you could wish for. The menu says eel but your mouth could almost say smoked haddock due to its lightness and the horseradish sauce just makes the whole thing sing.
Three more dishes to go and the anticipation was palpable round the table.
The second item (I won’t go as far as calling them courses – they really are small) to arrive was, for me, the stand out dish. Sounds simple enough – ravioli of spinach and Parmesan (£5) – but executed just perfectly.
The ravioli was made of the most melting pasta ever created. Light, but not insignificant, it was a contradictory achievement with each of the flavours involved and the herbs keeping their own distinctiveness while adding to the whole.
This restaurant is often billed as being Manchester’s best chance of getting a coveted Michelin star, this pasta dish alone should do it.
None of the remaining dishes disappointed either. The pan fried scallops(£7.50) with an unlikely sounding cauliflower puree was sweetness itself while the best end of Herdwick lamb was tender, rosy and satisfying even in it’s diminutive serving.
I remained with the grazing menu to have a trio of British cheeses from a menu which includes Little Ryding Appleby’s Cheshire and an unusual Kidderton Ash while my companions sampled an amazing array of whipped up desserts – each one presented as prettily as a Viennese chocolate shop .
The group of well-dined women I shared this meal with had eaten in most of the world’s best restaurants and been fed by just about every named chef you could, well, name.
So, unusually, I can offer you something of a group verdict – 9/10 for food but moving down to 6/10 for service due to one broken glass(wine waiter’s slip) and somewhat slow service towards the end of the meal.
Eating at Abode was one of those dining experiences which is truly an experience. Memorable in that evocative way food has where the mere mention of the dish brings the memory of the taste sensation rushing back. It’s also setting a standard on which the city can be judged without any shame. At last!
ABode is at 107 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2DB. 0161 247 7744