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The French Restaurant Manchester
Adam Reid At The French Manchester
AddressMidland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS
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PhoneBOOK ONLINEPhone0161 235 4780

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"The French continues to deliver the most well rounded dining experience in the city"
 
Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019 Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019
Adam Reid At The French Reviews
Restaurants Of Manchester (Friday 20th December 2019)
Key: 5 stars = World Class!   4 stars = FANTASTIC   3 stars = GOOD   2 stars = OK   1 star = Poor

 
Decor & Ambience World Class
Positives
The same grand, dark, moody, space which was created several years ago.  Nothing has changed, and my writing skills are not varied enough to rewrite this section (again), anyway, it's a handsomely smart dining room for sure.
Positives
Bring back the table bag hooks!  And lighting around our particular table wasn’t great, which is reflected in some of our images.

Not related to The French really, although some would differ.  There was a huge corporate Christmas event in the foyer during our visit.  Having to scrummage through a ton of rented tuxes to get to our dinner wasn’t a great start to the perceptions.   Hopefully that pending and super expensive hotel foyer remodel will see to such things disappear.  Take your parties to a private room. Other hotel customers probably don’t want to be involved.
 
Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019 Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019
Cold Cuts and Tracklements Cod Roe Dip
 
 
Price World Class
Positives
£90 for the tasting menu, with another £75 for your 6 matched wines, should you fancy the latter option?  It's all very decent in reality.  You're in a 4 star hotel that's soon to receive a massive refurbishment to the public areas, in a grand dining room, and the ratio of staff to customers is pretty high, all cooking with top end produce.

A couple of little extras have been thrown into the current menu too, in the form of a more extensive snacks array, and a little surprise pudding course.  The more the merrier.
Positives
The price of the tasting menu is going up to £99 in January, so a 10% leap.  Such is life.  It can't come cheap, you'll always get the expected high-end dining price bumps here and there, and hence it won't ever get 5/5 for value.  But that's just what you pay for an experience on this level.
 
Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019 Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019
Signature Menu December 2019 Pickled Mussels, White Onion & Cider Soup
 
 
Service World Class
Positives
Details make the experience, and all these years on my cutlery is set in a left handed layout without any prompting.  Making a dining experience so bespoke and personal is something that only the best very places get right time after time. 

My cutlery diva-ism aside, restaurant boss Kamila nose-checked every bottle that she uncorked, specifically checked every glass of wine that she poured for volume, and ran the dining room like a perfectionist.  This level of detail goes for every table, every customer, on every service.  It's consistently been exceptional.

Service at The French is, to put it shortly, some of the very best in the region and far beyond.
Positives
A Chef from the pastry bench in the dining room itself bringing out the next table's pudding from the GBM menu (review below) over shot the table it was destined for, and instantly realised his mistake.  Rather than turning around and making it obvious to the pudding-less table, he calmly glided the whole circumference of the dining space, and then served the unknowing table.  Even mistakes are fixed with class.
 
Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019 Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019
Tater 'Ash Smoked Cornish Cod
 
 
Food & Drink World Class
Positives
As represented on our Top 10 restaurants list, the food at The French is for us the best showcase of quality and accessibility in Manchester.  It strikes that balance of top end dining, with food which both locals want to eat on a Tuesday evening after some shopping, as well as still retaining a destination style dining experience which people will come to Manchester for the whole weekend to enjoy. 

We started with the new series of snacks, titled 'Cold Cuts and Tracklements', which is a superb addition to the tasting menu, and brings back a few surprise feeling courses that were left by the wayside a few years ago when Rogan got out of town. 

Some lovely ham with ample fat content showed a well-cared for beast.  Also on the snacks platter was some smoked salmon and a wedge of cheese, along with various paired tracklements; a long-lost word which we quite like.

Now piccalilli is one of my food weak spots.  I obsess over it.  Even the ropey £1 jarred stuff with oversized chunks of cauli, on Warbies toastie with cheap Cheddar.  It doesn’t matter to me.  This interpretation included in the snacks was suitably polished, with finely chopped veg and perfect acid/sugar/mustard balance.  Adam Handling sells his signature Chicken Butter in snap jars to take away.  Adam Reid should do the same with his Piccalilli.  I'd better move on before the Editor cuts me off for wasting 90 words on one litt…… 

The now tried and tested Pollen Bakery sourdough came as part of the snacks, with the stunning beef butter that's become another trademark.  A lovely rich, warming hot beef broth, along with smoky paprika topped Cod Roe dip and delicate house made crackers rounded off the snack smorgasbord.  We were ready for the main event. 

Pickled mussels, with white onion and cider soup and a hint of celery, were outstanding.  Perfectly cooked mussels, fresh, vibrant, with ideal cream and acid balance in a trendily contrasting green/pale sauce, left the mouth wanting more.  As should happen after any starter course. 

Tater 'ash of Cumbrian sirloin needs no more blurb.  It's been my best dish in Manchester for 2 years running now, and is quite simply brilliant. 
 
Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019 Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019
Cumbrian Red Deer Stichelton, Fig & Walnut Cake
 
Smoked Cornish Cod, cooked delightfully, with mustard mash, and a big, rich chicken sauce with truffle.  Crispy chicken skin was deftly left off the menu description.  Few things are as pleasing as unmentioned menu items, which you love.  And we love chicken skin.  It gave that all important textural element to a lovely looking plate. 

Cumbrian Red Deer, with pickled quince, bacon and mushrooms was winter on a plate, with blushing game meat, and earthy, seasonal flavours throughout the plate. 

Stichelton, Fig and Walnut Cake was a superb rendition on a traditional cheese course, balancing the piquant savoury notes of Stilton albeit using unpasteurised milk, with that walnut cake and the sweet figs to simulate the tastes and textures of a cheese board.  Clever stuff.

Baked apple 'cake' with crispy pastry and cold custard was a playful spin on every kid's favourite post tea treat, apple pie and custard.  Not a Bird's custard powder in sight here though. 

Tipsy cake was a simple post pudding course, with a lovely steeped mini cake, with a simple yet perfect rocher on top.  An ideal way to end. 
Positives
The sauce on the deer dish was a little bitter and unbalanced.  And the bread wasn't as good as usual, with lacking texture on the crust.  And whilst they weren't exactly cakes as such, do all 3 post savoury courses need the word 'cake' in their names?  That's literally it.  Impressive. 

Generally I'd like to see more local produce stated on the menu, to reinforce that Manchester/NW ethos.  I get that you use the best, not necessarily the most local, but still.  London has to do that because they have next to zero in the way of great local produce anyway.  Id best not get started on that old rant.  We don’t have that produce issue though.  Cornwall and Cumbria are world class in terms of produce, of course.  It's why, without any accident at all, some of the UK's very best restaurants are housed in those regions as they have that automatic produce tie in that’s so important to any top-end dining experience.  We have enough great stuff here too so let's at least give it a strong nod on the menu? 
 
Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019 Adam Reid At The French Manchester - December 2019
Baked Apple 'Cake' Tipsy Cake
 
 
Overall World Class

Positives
In summary; as touched on earlier, as a team, we've visited The French endless times since it was re-launched back in 2013, almost 7 years ago now.  We've seen it grow, move sideways, fall back a tad during adjustments, and then grow some more.  On reflection, the food offering which we had on this occasion was the most complete, honed, and generally error free that we'd had on any previous visit.  

After all these years, The French continues to deliver the most well rounded dining experience in the city, with flavours which scream Manchester and resonate so heavily with many people's upbringing, if you were raised around here at least.  If you weren't, then still, the modern interpretations of simple, tasty northern food, are something which no other dining room in the region, or indeed any other, can provide.   

And that's their USP.  None of the overused and usually meaningless 'modern British' ethos is mentioned here.  It's a Manchester born Chef, based in an iconic Manchester Hotel, in an also iconic Manchester room, cooking with flavours that are close to Manchester and the immediate region.  As touched on earlier, all the great dining experiences anywhere on the planet are all about where you are.  They embrace their locality without any restraint at all. 

Maybe its psychological, but Neapolitan pizza cannot taste any better than it does in Naples.  Champagne can't taste any better than it does in Epernay.  Guinness really does always taste better in Dublin, even though it's made everywhere these days.  And Manchester/NW inspired food doesn't get any better than this.  
Positives
Barely anything on this occasion. Piccalilli not available to take away!
 
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Adam Reid At The French Reviews
Restaurants Of Manchester (Saturday 8th June 2019)
 
Adam Reid At The French Review

Key: 5 stars = World Class!   4 stars = FANTASTIC   3 stars = GOOD   2 stars = OK   1 star = Poor

 
Decor & Ambience World Class
Positives
Arguably the city's grandest, and unarguably most historic hotel, is The Midland.  Every Manc knows it.  It's as Mancunian as The Happy Mondays going to Old Trafford, dressed in Pretty Green whilst drinking Vimto.  The dining room itself is palatial, due to its 1903 date of birth.  Gone though is the old school grandeur and pomp, from the days when The Beatles were famously turned away due to not being correctly attired.  Actually, they were obviously(!) turned away simply for being from the other end of the M62.  The room is now nuanced with modern, darker colour schemes, better lighting, and is without question a smart space, in keeping with the current style of Chef Reid.
Positives
We've done this bit to death for years on end now, but, that wood effect carpet, harking back to the Rogan days when they tried to embed a green, countryside feel into a 100 year old, grand-feeling room, which just never worked.  At this stage of the blurb, I usually say 'You don’t notice it after a while', but the fact that every time we do a write up after visiting The French, the carpet unfalteringly gets a mention, tells you that I'm utterly lying.
 
Adam Reid At The French Review
'From The Beatles to Oasis' & 'Northern Soul'
 
 
Price World Class
Positives
People often think that food on this level is expensive, and it is.  However, is it good value?  Yes, it still can be. Think about it logically for a second. Pretty much everything you eat is scratch made by top pros, using expensive produce, and they only cater for a fairly small number of people every service.  Quality produce costs a lot of money, and staff wages are expensive.  So are the bills at this grand old building.

On this visit, we paid £85 for the GBM menu.  Now sure, that's about 20 notes a course.  But how much do you pay for a bowl of pasta in a high street chain?  About £12 for something which was probably made centrally?  Which is better value?  You get what you pay for most of the time, and gross profit percentages are probably lower at places like The French than they are in most high street chains.  Expensive can still be good value.
Positives
A big point-loser in top end places is the wine mark ups, as it's an easy money spinner with much less expense and manpower (sorry Sommeliers!), when compared to what comes out of the kitchen.  We recently came across a London dining room with an eye watering 13x mark-up on a bottle of wine.  Ludicrous.  No such northern mickey taking here, but still a chunky north of 5x mark-up on many bottles.  Saying that, even 4x is becoming quite normal these days and these are quality bottles, served by pros.  I'm definitely northern in frugality as middle age sets in.
 
Adam Reid At The French Review
'Comfort Food Sounds Good'
 
 
Service World Class
Positives
Simply put, there is no better front of house anywhere in the region, including at our dual starred big boys.  Kamila; recently nominated as GQ's best front of house boss, runs her dining room with a fine toothed comb, whilst managing to include key elements of fun and a total lack of pomp.  'Casual Fine Dining' isn’t a trendy term that I'm fond of, as it's usually just a way of reassuring green punters that you won't get patronised if you don’t understand the wine list or mispronounce that French cheese that you've never seen in the supermarket.  It never really happens in 2019 anyway though, despite people's fears which are mainly borne from unfamiliarity.  You get more attitude and stiffness from staff in high end shops than you do from the guys at most top end dining rooms, despite the fears. 

Service at The French is pinpoint accurate and well directed, yet still Manchester friendly.  Which as we know, is the best kind of friendly.  This is one of only 2 dining rooms on the planet at any level who've ever consistently remembered to reset my sidekick's cutlery in a left handed format between multiple courses.  Little details all amount to creating something special.
Positives
Bring back the handbag table hooks.  Not my manly opinion, honestly.  I've just been told to include it by the Editor.
 
Adam Reid At The French Review
'Comfort Food Sounds Good'
 
 
Food & Drink World Class
Positives
So, the most important bit; was Adam's GBM music-themed menu an Oasis of a chart topper, or a Rick Astley-esque one hit wonder? 

Starter was a bigger portioned version of a dish that's been on the regular tasting menu for a while.  For GBM it's renamed as 'From The Beatles to Oasis', aka 'tater 'ash.  We thought it was the best dish in Mcr last year so already know it inside out.  Bags of flavour, eats really well, and an absolute lesson in simple accuracy and ideal balance meeting masses of flavour, not to mention being a modern rendition of a dish which holds fond memories for any working-class northerner (8/10). 

'Northern Soul' was the fish course, one which the TV judges didn’t rate massively, for some bizarre reason.  Adam replaced the polenta cod cheek coating with batter on their advice. On-point almond milk poached and rolled cod loin, sat on some 'lightly' buttered leeks, with a lovely butter sauce that's boosted my cholesterol nicely, added with the amazing textural pop of some salty roe. All in all though, a lovely dish with strong classic flavours (9/10).

'Comfort Food Sounds Good', was this year's winning GBM main course, and you can see why.  Taking you back to a family roast, sat around the dining table on Sunday afternoon, possibly with some music on in the background to force that brief in again.  Presented at the table as a whole Rhug Estate sourced, top quality chicken crown. Pre-sliced and re-plated, as to avoid the inevitable customer-DIY butchering.  The leg/thigh meat was made into a stew with corn, barley, turnips, and more buttered leeks, all topped with grated black truffle for that scent of decadence. I'll be ripping this off at home next Sunday afternoon (8/10), only to a 3/10 standard. 

'Madchester, I am the Resurrection' was afters; a treacle pudding, topped with tuile disk, topped with a rocher of clotted cream ice cream, and some explosively scented nitro'ed mint leaves, which made the whole dish pop with freshness and opened up the nostrils a bit. I don’t have a liquid nitrogen tank at home, so couldn't rip this one off anyway, plus I'm terrible at pastry (7/10). 

'The Apple', aka Golden Empire, a dish that's not part of the current GBM menu, is still brilliant and has continued to improve over time..
Positives
Nit-picking; we loved the starter, but half of the dish via the bread is bought in from the admittedly great Pollen, to a custom recipe, and I understand why it's outsourced in such a small kitchen 100%. But still, I'm an in-house baking purist, and it's a dying thing sadly, due to the rise of quality local bakeries.  Its why almost everywhere in town sources bread from one of 4 places. 

For the fish course, we thought that a textured panko would have looked better and also given the dish another layer of mouth feel compared to polenta, or the GBM judge appeasing batter. 

The soon to be signature chicken dish also came with a gravy, which was a bit over the mark in acidity for us. 

And as brilliant as it is; we suspect that the iconic sugar apple needs to gracefully retire whilst on top, as much as I love it and hence have ordered it about 28 times to date.  All good things, and all. 
 
Adam Reid At The French Review
'Madchester, I am the Resurrection' & 'The Apple'
 
 
Overall World Class

Positives
Adam Reid no longer needs any introduction or back story, but still, I'll give you one because I vainly enjoy writing this stuff.  He's now a champion for tasty, proper, yet high-end, northern/Manchester driven flavours, which represent who he is and the city he's from; something which no other Chef does at this level.  Most Chefs just state the overused and generic 'Modern British' as their stated ethos, without ever really having a proper connection with their locality.  No such issues here. Then there's his score of awards, endless accolades, and most importantly, respect from industry peers.   

Add to that 2 wins on GBM, which is broadly when you stop doing it and become a judge, as most people who watch food on tele already know who you are, and exposure is a main point of GBM for rising Chefs.  That in turn puts bums on seats and raises your persona/brand to the point where you can probably just get rich by doing a recipe book. The recognition also rightly or wrongly raises your chances of getting into another little red book, but I won't go over that spent issue again. 

Adam's talent and a maintained down to earth character, plus bags of cheeky boyish charm have won over a score of people through the years.  He's still the same likable bloke who we first met for an interview at L'Enclume in 2013, just after he'd spent an hour chopping gherkins during breakfast service.  It's also likely that your other half, Sister and Mum all fancy him, whether or not they admit it.  

The French is in short, still the best overall dining experience in Manchester, and one of the best in the north as a whole.  Things are moving on in the city, as tends to happen once a top end kitchen pops up.  People move to the city just to work there, from other top places elsewhere, so their skills and experience transfer between kitchens, raising the local game.   

6 years on from The French being first revamped, you see some ex-staff in other high end city places, and Manchester is unrecognisable from 2013 in terms of quality food options.  We have The French to partially thank for that movement.  But we still have a long way to go in terms of normalising a real food loving culture, rather than just a love of eating/drinking out, and there's a massive difference.  But I still have hopes for that happening before high cholesterol retires me.  

And who doesn’t love a 'tater 'ash in these parts?  You owe it to yourself to experience The French.  
Positives
I'm not going to waste your time or pamper my ego by putting anything much in this section to be honest.  It's not cheap which makes it inaccessible to most people, informal or not, and top end dining isn’t for all tastes anyway. That's all stating the obvious though really.  Do yourself a favour, and if you're still reading at this point, then just go.  And order the Apple in case it does actually disappear!. 
 
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