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I happened to find myself in manchester the other day, a quick call to resident Thom ascertained what i had suspected from my brief time working there back in 1996, that all the action foodwise was in the suburbs. (I am glad to see my personal favourite the lime tree, didsbury, still going strong).

In the town centre, other than the bridge gastropub that sounded good, but a little informal for my needs two names cropped up Obsidian and Establishment. Obsidian sounded a bit too fushion-y for my taste so i went for establishment which sounded, and on their website looked more of a serious foodie place. I also noted a less than favourable review by Coren on obsidian last saturday though maybe his meal was tempered by his guest turning out to be a radical vegetarian. Unlucky Giles.

It turned out i did know Establishment of old it, was a bar on the end of King street where i remember many Friday lunchtimes being passed in a haze of becks. Despite what you put in the space it will always look pretty special as it is an old banking hall, full of marble with impressive domed ceilings. In it's guise as a restaurant they have created a bar and a semi-private dining space. The predominant colour is a ramsay-esque aubergine but the room is big and tables generously sized.

We had a warm greeting at the door, from that rarity in the trade, a helpful, welcoming maitre d' (i suspect also the proprietor too) who took our coats and settled us in bar area for a swift coupe and menu perusal. From the website i thought only set lunch was offered with full ALC in the evening but luckily this was not the case, the set lunch looked fine but we were in no rush so settled on ALC.

My starter was a green risotto with parmesan crisps and a basil ice cream i think (the menu on the website is not representative). It was indeed green, the ice cream was fine and not 'challenging' and the risotto not overdone. My mate had hand dived scallops with a frogs leg beignet which he looked very happy with.

Mains were for me roast cod with a burgundy jus, lardons, mushrooms and other assorted drizzles, plus a jug of extra jus. The plates were huge, glass and very pretty though it wasn't the largest piece of cod i've ever had, though as it's overfished perhaps that's good? It was a complicated dish, quite pleasant and the sort of dish you'd think michelin would go for, but in reality a little too fussy i thought. Mate's venison with chocolate bonbon suffered the same fate, quite small and a lot going on.

We then split a cheese course and ordered deserts and coffee also. Not quite sure why the coffee order was needed at that point but no harm done. The cheese board had mrs kirkhams and and four others so it was 2 bits of that and a bit of eveything else, with a quince jelly too. They were in decent condition, can't remember the names, about 5 minutes later a very nice but oddly refrigerated fruit cake and crackers appeared.

Then there was a strange moment, as i paused with my cheese, mid yet another no-doubt side cracking anecdote the young waiter tried to take my plate away. He obviously likes to live dangerously! I assured him the cheese was not yet finished but this was not putting him off. He set up the cutlery for the deserts next to the cheese (i told you the tables were big) and then momnets later brought out the deserts, which sat there until we wanted them!

mine was cold so it wasn't an issue, i forgot my mate had ordered choc fondant so that was a bit more of an issue but by the time he had finished cheese it had cooled to a pleasant temp. my deserts were a white choc cheesecake with a shot of milshake and i think raspberry ripple ice cream.

not suprisingly coffee soon followed along with interesting space dust coated choc truffles which were good.

Wines were a 1/2 white bordeaux for starters at sommeliers suggestion and a red premier cru pernand-vergelesse at my suggestion. Both did the job, there was also a desert wine slipped in there too.

It was a pleasant lunchtime, the service was very good natured but no-where near polished enough if indeed stars are the aim. Ok i'm being picky, but the errors were: an odd smell at our table in the bar, probably caused by wiping with a musty cloth, getting dishes the wrong way round, everytime, and making a fuss over swapping the cutlery, the usual wine in the cooler and not topping up regularly enough, (though red was left on table), offering us set menu deserts rather than alc's, the desert issue, forgetting crackers, coffee 'i'd like a large espresso' -'would that be large or small sir?'. Don't get me wrong i say these only to help, often they are faults found in many establishments both lesser and greater.

so i think the raw material is there, at least the staff were smiling, enthusiastic and hopefully will learn the ropes eventually, the restaurant only opened in may. Dishes although i felt probably overly complex were enjoyable. The wine list had been chosen with thought and had not unreasonable mark ups.

i hope it is a success, i'm not often in manchester but would go back, for an attitude and fashion driven city like manchester it is refreshingly down to earth.

Though unfortunately for Thom, but luckily for me, a long way behind both no3 and Anthony's (had to get them in somewhere :wink: )

cheers

gary

www.establishmentrestaurant.com

you don't win friends with salad

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I quite like the look of their lunch menu - looks a touch more 'robust' than their ALC. Might be a brave move though - people my feel a bit underwhelmed by corned beef hash and steak and kidney pudding at restaurant prices

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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I quite like the look of their lunch menu - looks a touch more 'robust' than their ALC. Might be a brave move though - people my feel a bit underwhelmed by corned beef hash and steak and kidney pudding at restaurant prices

i was nearly tempted into set lunch by the corned beef hash!

another nice touch, they had a dish of the day each day of the week, when i went it was braised beef and mashed potato.

cheers

gary

you don't win friends with salad

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i was nearly tempted into set lunch by the corned beef hash!

another nice touch, they had a dish of the day each day of the week, when i went it was braised beef and mashed potato.

cheers

gary

I liked the sound of that - touch of the classic Paris brasserie about it.

Seems an odd contrast to the ALC though!

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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  • 2 months later...
i was nearly tempted into set lunch by the corned beef hash!

another nice touch, they had a dish of the day each day of the week, when i went it was braised beef and mashed potato.

cheers

gary

I liked the sound of that - touch of the classic Paris brasserie about it.

Seems an odd contrast to the ALC though!

The thursday Kate and Sidney pudding is very nice - the staff grumble if they're all sold at lunch, as they're a favourite leftover for the staff meal at 5:30pm :)

The corned beef hash is hangover from Ian Morgan's time as HC at Rhodes & Co in Old Trafford, which became Watersreach in early 2003 (Ian left there in March this year to set up the Establishment). It's still on the menu at WR, and proves popular.

The ALC corned beef hash at the Establishment is a different beast, very dressed up - globe artichoke bottoms are cooked sous-vide, then placed on a square of corned beef with bashed root vegetables through it. The globe artichoke then has a jerusalem artichoke puree piped into it. Green beans neatly trimmed to the same size as the hash then line the sides in threes, and the space at the corners is occupied by truffled creme fraiche. Finally, a breaded deep-fried hen's egg is placed on the artichoke puree, with the requisite green frilly herbal crap around the place and a beef reduction squirted around.

It eats very well, probably despite the complexity, not because of it.

Edited by culinary bear (log)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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not suprisingly coffee soon followed along with interesting space dust coated choc truffles which were good.

Tell me more, am intrigued.

could be wrong but i think heston started it, unfortunately not much to add (perhaps culianry bear will know more) but as a consumer of them, they were the usual choccy truffles but coated with space dust so they 'explode' in your mouth and then you get the soothing choc.

it was while ago that i went too!

cheers

gary

you don't win friends with salad

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  • 2 years later...

Sad to report that Establishment is now shut, administrators looking for new owners.

It went under owing £800k. (according to the MEN)

A real shame as every time I ate here the food/service/ambiance was great.

Perhaps a tad ambitious with the site. The rent must have been hefty.

And the notorious Manchester lunchtime resistance to paying over a fiver mustn't have helped...:-(

http://www.establishmentrestaurant.com/

I

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Sad to report that Establishment is now shut, administrators looking for new owners.

It went under owing £800k. (according to the MEN)

A real shame as every time I ate here the food/service/ambiance was great.

Perhaps a tad ambitious with the site. The rent must have been hefty.

And the notorious Manchester lunchtime resistance to paying over a fiver mustn't have helped...:-(

http://www.establishmentrestaurant.com/

I

The missus works very close by and ate here a few times on business. Great food, she said, but risible time keeping in terms of having a quick lunch and getting back to the "orifice". So much so that clients often said " God no, we will be there for hours". I only went there once to drink far too much bubbly stuff. Their staff made such a song and dance about bringing the champane to our table, yet failed to do so, and so we just upped and left. They even fucked up on renewing their licence to serve alcohol, such that customers had to take their own along! Not too good for the one restaurant in Manchester that was aiming for a star.

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And having been again recently, the Market Restaurant in the Northern Quarter still strikes me as the best quality in town. Okay, its a bit seventies in style, but we all like a bit of nostalgia now and agin. Don't we?

Sad about T'Establishment. Better than the other big-hitters (above notwithstanding) certainly. Though I hear rumours The French is back on the up.

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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  • 2 weeks later...

sad to hear about Establishment but going back to a comment aobut Anthony's - I found this restaurant disappointing. The start was good with some interesting dishes but the mains disappointed. It seems to be a restaurant where people go to be seen.

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yup, tis lovely, much much better than Piccolinos.

But a (good) surprise that the first Bib in the city centre didnt go to a Chinese

erm last time I looked Palmiro was in Whalley Range - hardly city centre :raz: I agree though, MUCH better than anything Piccolino (or any Italian in and around the city) can offer

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erm last time I looked Palmiro was in Whalley Range - hardly city centre  :raz: I agree though, MUCH better than anything Piccolino (or any Italian in and around the city) can offer

Chorlton surely? But you're right of course. I've always been drunk when I leave there, so my geographical sense goes out the window.

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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It's on Chorlton Rd but I think its actually in WR (although I may also be wrong)

City Life thinks it's in WR: http://www.palmiro.net/reviews/man_citylife.html

as does MEN http://www.manchesteronline.co.uk/food/s/2...lley_range.html (not a great review thuogh)

I suppose a Chorlton address sounds better than a WR one :biggrin:

On a slightly different tack, didn't someone integral to Palmiro leave to go set up Isinglass in Urmston (which I still haven't been to despite my sister-in-law living round the corner!)?

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It's technically Whalley Range... but only just. Chorlton itself begins when you come over the bridge crossing the railway line and start to see the hippies. :)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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Definitely Whalley Range.

Though if you asked some of the recent influx of 'meeja' luvvies who have paid through the nose for their house after being priced out of buying down the road they would swear it is Chorlton.

I think it is now, in a tenous sense, 'Chorlton' in the same way that Urban Splash have comendeered large parts of Hulme as 'Castlefield'...

I have to say I always quite liked Palmiro but in the few times I have been it didn't knock the socks off me in the quite the way I had expected from reviews and word of mouth. It was competent, and I liked the low-fi decor and feel of the place, but the food was good without being particularly memorable.

I think someone from Palmiro did leave to do Isinglass, and didn't someone also leave and do that weird Middle Eastern place in some unfashionable spot of South Manchester the name of which I always forget? It's a real small scale unpretentious place but always gets fantastic reviews. 'Big' something?

I'll rack my brains...

Final point, it seems Le Mont has also gone kaput (which was both a suprise and long expected). Two of the most serious attempts at Manchester city centre fine dining are now gone. Cotton House never made the mark, Obsidian seems to be doing ok but has settled for a lower level. Apart from that the refurbed but old-fashioned French at the Midland (the last place to hold a star in the city, some 33 years ago) ploughs on and the River Rooms at the Lowry hotel under Eyck Zimmer continues to pick up accolades (though it doesn't please everyone).

I also think Harvey Nichols under Alison Seagrave is actually doing very well indeed though maybe there is still more improvement to come.

Why, oh why don't some of these incredibly rich property developers (that means you Allied London at Spinningfields!) just throw a bit of money around to create a great site at a favourable rate for a local, proven chef like Paul Kitching or Nigel Howarth to try and bring a star to the city. I am sure they would both love an opportunity to make as mark there, and any development which included them would gain huge kudos and exposure through having the city of Manchester's only star.

Otherwise I can't see a top-drawer place opening in the city, partly as there is a lack of willing talent and partly because the opportunites in new kitchens tend to be at places which open too big and too broad to enable a chef with potential to find his feet and establish his style. The minute covers drop there there is financial meltdown meaning a rebrand or dumbing down is around the corner.

The only other hope is for a real star in the making to do what Anthony Flynn did in Leeds in taking on a small and awkward (ie cheap) site and making it work against everyone's expectations through a combination of good financial planning and sheer quality of food and service.

Where that diamond in the rough of a site is is another matter of course...

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Why, oh why don't some of these incredibly rich property developers (that means you Allied London at Spinningfields!) just throw a bit of money around to create a great site at a favourable rate for a local, proven chef like Paul Kitching or Nigel Howarth to try and bring a star to the city.

Its a lot less likely to happen now, of course. Ingall and co. didn't get to be stinkingly rich by throwing money at things that don't work.

Maybe in the new casino site?

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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But I think the money spent so far has been demonstrably thrown at the 'wrong' things. Of course if I could identify the 'right' things then I would be a multimillionaire property developer instead of sat in my office in the arse end of the Northern Quarter choking on paint fumes...

The casino site? I would just love someone to open a Michelin star restaurant in Beswick... If Vegas can get Keller, Ducasse, Nobu et al then surely East Manchester can get... Uhmm... Well... There's...

The gloss is coming in now, I better go get some constructive work done whilst I still can.

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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In case anyone was wondering where Robert Kisby (Le Mont) has got to, he's now moved to the Cock o'Barton, a place near me doing lots of locally sourced gubbins. Have been for Sunday dinner and had a few grumbles about service and tiny, overdone roasties and boring veg BUT the meat (local beef and pork) is superb and the place had only been open a fortnight and it looked like the busiest day they'd had up to yet. No menu on the website yet but I do have one at home that I am forever forgetting to scan in

http://www.thecockobarton.co.uk/

Right you can get back to arguing about North/South divides (being an East Midlander (West Notts) by birth, I still class myself as 'Northern', go figure :biggrin: )

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Eating at the French at the Midland in about an hour.

Will report tomorrow.

Casino-big hitters? Nah :raz:

I have several aquaintances that are involved with the 235 Casino (£13 million and counting to build). It's not happening, very rarely busy enough to justify it's size, not been thought through properly for the local market. Both restaurants are starting to do promotions and are only busy Fri/Sat, and even then not consistently.

This eastlands thing will be a white elephant I wreckon. There's too many casinos already competing in Mcr.

I

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