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101 Brasserie Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield likes pig in the MacDonald Townhouse Hotel

Published on June 14th 2012.

101 Brasserie Reviewed

CHEF TIM LEWIS is doing strong work at the MacDonald Townhouse Hotel on Portland Street. In fact his food is a revelation.

There was belly pork but also loin. Bunched on a fork with an exquisite apple butterscotch sauce plus pickled cabbage and crackling, it was a real winner.

The old Princess Hotel has been revamped and reinvigorated with conversion into a MacDonald Townhouse hotel. Not that it hasn't always been, externally, a handsome building, originally built in neo-Gothic style as a textile warehouse by Clegg and Knowles for the Pickles company in 1870.

1870 beauty1870 beauty

Inside more work needs to be done on the restaurant section to make it appealing to non-residents. The atmosphere is decidly 'hotel' in there, bland and cold. The restaurant feels side-lined and unloved.

Dull restaurant spaceDull restaurant space

But the food is very good. 

MacDonald Hotels started life in Scotland and the chef shares a name with one of the Hebridean islands, so maybe that's the reason for the Scottish ingredients that fill the brisk menu. 

I began with a ham hock and Stornoway black pudding terrrine (£6.75). This had a tough full-flavoured ham, made sweeter with the gentle Stornoway (another Lewis, Isle of Lewis connection) and given delight by a wonderful cinnamon doughnut and poached apple. This was a complex little dish with a lot going, that through being led by the sturdy ham, never lost its integrity. Good start indeed.


An Eggs Benedict starter (£6.50) came with sauce and eggs prepared to perfection. It was given the required edge and lift by the crispy bacon and the rocket. It was adored by my dining guest.

Eggs BenedictEggs Benedict

The mains feature pork, the poor relation of the meat world. While chicken has come clucking back with a vengeance onto UK menus, pig is largely ignored. The grunters occasionally get billing in their belly pork variant, but that's about it.

The problem with pork is keeping it moist.

No problems here. Lewis's free range pork and apple (£15.50) was fluid flesh at its best. There was belly pork but also loin. Bunched on a fork with an exquisite apple butterscotch sauce plus pickled cabbage and crackling, it was a real winner. I want to rush back and have another go with that very soon. The fat in the belly was a very memorable.


The 21 day matured Scottish ribeye steak (£18) with Bearnaise sauce (£1.95) came medium rare as requested. It was more evidence of the skill and competence in the kitchen.


The same could be said of the yoghurt cheesecake (£6). Feast your eyes on this pudding fans. It had granola on top, an elegant yoghurt sorbet, and raspberries, it had a lovely forgiving consistency, and was not - lots of brownie points here - too sweet. I loved the coriander that came with it too.


Tim Lewis at the MacDonald Townhouse has an impressive kitchen. He also has a menu that's the perfect size. He is clearly very confident in his handling of the food and he uses imagination to great effect as evidenced by that cinnamon doughnut and the other fine little details. 

Shame about the space that the restaurant finds itself crammed in.

If that matched the cooking then this would be a proper destination. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield


101 Brasserie, MacDonald Townhouse Manchester, 101 Portland Street, City. M1 6DF. 0844 879 9089       

Rating: 14.25/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below)
Food: 7.75/10
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 3/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

Merchant House 011Merchant House 011

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Andrew LeathleyJune 14th 2012.

Morning Mr Schofield, interesting review, always hoped something would be made of that ground floor space so fair play to Tim, an old chum of mine actually! I'll be checking out his latest work asap.

However, your final score rating has been totalled up incorrectly based on your scores breakdown it should be 14.25/20 not 13.25, maybe give them an extra 0.5 to say sorry! :)

bigearsJune 15th 2012.

completely agree with the review. Food is great but the environment you are eating in is just plain, dull and boring. Its a nice place for a lunch but wouldn't go in the evening as its too quiet and just not the right feel.

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