Sunday, 8 September 2013

The French at the Midland by Simon Rogan

As a little pre birthday treat a few weeks ago I decided to book a table for lunch at The French by Simon Rogan the Midland Hotel in Manchester. We haven't experienced Simon's food before but given the number of great reviews from my fellow bloggers I thought it was about time we ventured to the big city to give this venue a try, I must admit I was somewhat nervous of what the experience would be like and would it live up to the expectations built in my mind.

The French is a beautiful restaurant which has existed in the Midland Hotel since 1903, earlier this year Simon Rogan took over the reins and sensitively brought the French up to date, with a stunning tastefully refurbished decor and an equally stunning dining menu, city centre Manchester finally has a restaurant which might just possibly become a michelin star holder . The restaurant  has been so successful that a second more informal international restaurant will be opening across the hotel reception in a couple of weeks time.


Firstly an apology as you not getting any food piccies as I just wanted to be a diner not a blogger for this lunch and enjoy the whole taste experience. The decor is a gentle muted style with more than nod to the beauty of nature, I especially like the carpeting that looked that planks of wood and the globe chandeliers are amazing ,something you can just gaze at for hours. But we are here for the food not the decor.

We were welcomed by the friendly and attentive staff, which immediately put us at our ease as we were talked through the three set menu's we could choose from. As this was lunch we plumped for the three courses, to open with were served an appetiser of crispy kale with english truffle and chives, this light as a feather taste sensation was amazing, a beautiful truffly mouthful, you tasted every flavour. This small dish already started to show me why Simon Rogan has two michelin stars to his name, magical....

Next to arrive where two amazing bread trays, one each both containing a dinky french baguette, a manchester ale roll, dark and intriguing and a hunk of some amazing looking chestnut bread, all served with whipped butter sprinkled with sea salt. We both love real bread, appreciating that bread making is an artisan craft, we were very impressed, the bread was all delicious and still a little warm from the oven. The crunchy dinky french bread was well flavoured and with a crunchy crust, the ale bread earthly dark and malty (a little reminiscent of More Artisan's Treacle bread but without the sweetness) and the deliciously chewy nutty chestnut bread. Having the butter whipped lightened the overall impact on the bread and the touch of crunchy sea salt was great. Both touches allowed the bread to sing.

First course - Grilled radish, scallops, bronze fennel, smoked roe, now I am not a real fan of radish but whatever the kitchen at the French did to these radish turned this into something amazing, the vegetables and herbs becoming the star of the show, the scallops were perfectly cooked, just simply a stunning dish. Mr LF would have licked the plate if I would have let him.

Second Course - Reg's chicken with blewits, beans and mugwort, this dish had both chicken thigh and breast in it, both melt in your mouth tender, with crispy skin, earthy mossy mushrooms, crunchy yet tender green and golden french beans, char grilled spring onions ( I never knew a spring onion could taste so good) and a delicious gravy / sauce with just a hint of mugwort to make it intensively savoury. 

Dessert - Cherries, sweet cheese, hazelnut, sorrel - flavourful soaked sliced fresh cherries with a sweet creamy soft goats cheese frozen parfait, served with a crunchy hazlenutty granola and a few leaves of wood sorrel, drizzled with a sweet sticky sauce. So simple, so fresh but a taste sensation.

A surprise course appeared, a  treat of  Sasparilla drink, sasparilla meringue, sasparilla parfait and sasaprilla gel, wonderfully aromatic, this rounded off the meal perfectly.

Overall we were blown away by the flavours, textures and the amazing combinations of essentially simple fresh ingredients but cooked perfectly and combined with precision, all we can say is the man is a genius. 


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