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3 Twenty One Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield finds a proper roast timed well in a fine new restaurant

Written by . Published on May 20th 2013.

3 Twenty One Reviewed

WHAT'S the hardest thing to find in professional cooking? Easy. A good Sunday roast. 

The 40 day aged meat was easy to the knife, rich on the palate, and gorgeous bunched on the fork with some of the veg or a gravy sodden Yorkie portion. 

The joint greatest British culinary creation, with the breakfast, is such a creature of timing that it can end up flabby and distraught when stretched to meet the needs of catering for numbers of people arriving over, say, a four hour period. 

It's as though the roast was designed to bind families together as it fits like an oven-glove, a small group sitting down at the same time. There is nothing as disappointing as a dried Yorkshire pudding hardening slowly into the fossilised remains of dinosaur dung, the classic symptom of a roast cooked sometime earlier. 

The roast at new restaurant 3 Twenty One was one of the best I've had away from the home front. Dryness was banished, moist, lively food was the order of the day. Mostly anyway.

Beef from heaven

Beef from heaven

I'd been hoping this was the case as the chef Jason Latham had talked confidently and cleverly about what the kitchen was aiming for the other week for the Food and Drink Round-up - click here. Normally Confidential would wait longer than a week to review a new place to enable teething problems to settle down, but Latham seemed ready to hit the ground running. 

He has. 

This was confident food right from the kick-off, the elements of the roast lit beautifully on the high altar of the pass like a diety to be worshipped as we passed by - main picture at the top of the page.

The service on a bubbling along Sunday was very good as well. A smile and a welcome as we arrived, and competent, attentive staff throughout.

Even the Sunday menu card has clarity and in its Times New Roman typeface (I think) is beguiling. Bloody good deal for the quality we were about to experience as well. £12.50 for two courses, £14.95 for three.

3 Twenty One Sunday menu3 Twenty One Sunday menu

We had the beef, the half chicken, the pork roasts. All were huge plates of food with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, beans, peas, spinach, carrot and swede and gravy. Wow. The range of veg was really welcome. 

The beef was slightly the pick over the chicken. The 40 day aged meat was easy to the knife, rich on the palate, and gorgeous bunched on the fork with some of the veg or a gravy sodden Yorkie portion. The chicken was equally well cooked and clearly came from a quality bird, while the pork wasn't far behind. With a Sunday roast, I always feel beef trumps the other meats.

The roast potatoes were a let down, not because of the quality of the cooking but because of the nature of the spud. I'm aware farmers have had a nightmare twelve months because of the unending deluge across Britain, but Latham needs to re-source the spuds used here as they had a dryish, unappealing character. They dragged the dishes down half a point in the scoring.

Strangely though the chips that came with the twelve-year-old's burger were very good, as was the burger itself. Maybe a homemade ketchup would be better for kids with the burger rather than a collation of exotic piccalillis and coleslaw (although the latter was excellent). Good value children's meal this at £4.95.

Kids burger

Kids burger

A starter of duck and chicken liver pate was very coarse, very aggressively liver, but rewarding with the brioche and the chutney. It showed how Latham's mantra of preparing everything in the kitchen rather than buying in ready-made alternatives is being adhered to. A little more refinement would be welcome with the pate.

Pate and briochePate and brioche

The same applied with the bluebeery cheescake and the apple and toffee crumble. Both were sturdy homemade creations, strong on flavour if lacking a little sweetness for some tastes. 

What Latham needs to do with both the main roast dishes, and urgently with the desserts, is provide us with self-application materials. We need our own gravy boat with the mains and a jug of single cream for the puddings. The crumble with a cream in this case, not a custard, would be lifted a whole point in flavour.

3 Twenty One is on the first floor over The Deansgate pub which sits under the shadow of Beetham Tower. The first floor location allows the venue to make use of the light flooding in from the windows and also of a cute roof terrace. If you sit at the right table there's a grand view down the lively, once-upon-a-time Roman road of Deansgate.

The dining room with one of those comfortable seatsThe dining room with one of those comfortable seats

The dining room is smart, very classic British. The youngest among us suggested the firm leather-effect chairs were the most comfortable we'd enjoyed in a restaurant. Maybe. Certainly the use of wood, the tones on the walls all make for a very pleasant place in which to eat. Shame about the Manchester scenes in black and white on some walls which are essays in poor photography, there are many better prints out there. Change them 3 Twenty One.

Overall this restaurant appears already to be an excellent addition to city dining. It has all the solid virtues of the best mid-range British restaurants, good ingredients cooked carefully and timed well, a splash of innovation, strong presentation. 

For once it seems - potatoes aside - a Sunday roast in a restaurant gets it right.

I look forward to having a go at the full a la carte in the weeks to come. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+


3 Twenty One, The Deansgate Pub, 321 Deansgate, City, M3 4LQ. 0871 978 8035

Rating: 14.5/20

Food: 7.5/10 (chicken roast 8, pork 7.5, beef 8, burger 7, pate 6.5, cheescake 7.5, crumble 7)

 Service: 3.5 

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


Ugly black and white printsUgly black and white prints

The Deansgate pub downstairsThe Deansgate pub downstairs

Flowers and Beetham on the roof terraceFlowers and Beetham on the roof terrace

View down DeansgateView down Deansgate



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35 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Jonathan MoranMay 20th 2013.

Good review but Schofield really is a pompous little butterball.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Lynda MoyoMay 20th 2013.

'Pompous tall butterball' is more accurate and has a much better ring to it.

Jonathan MoranMay 20th 2013.

tall/small the point remains.

AnonymousMay 20th 2013.

At times when reading this It felt more like I was looking at a list of recomended improvements written for the restaurant's benefit (spuds, cream, ketchup, pictures) rather than reading a review written for the benefit of mancon's readership.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
JayMay 20th 2013.

Agreed. I can see a new idea for an article, Schofield's Kitchen Nightmares. Jonathan Schofield visits a local restaurateur and gives his recommendations on running a successful establishment, first in the series, R House.

RevaulxMay 20th 2013.

Sorry but I am struggling to see the point of this comment. Surely criticism is more worthwhile if it is offered up in the hope that it will be acted upon?

Jonathan MoranMay 21st 2013.

Yes, but he has a way about him that Schofield and his portly chum. A way that irks most normal folk.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Calum McGMay 21st 2013.

Oh dear. I like Schofield. What's he done to piss you off so?

AnonymousMay 21st 2013.


Jonathan MoranMay 22nd 2013.

Nothing personally, I've never met the man, I just find some of his reviews a little acidic and irritating. I'd love to know the process of how restaurants are reviewed by ManCon as it seems that sometimes those that receive verbal fellatio from 'Gordo' and Schofield also have a whacking great advert across the site.......coincidence?

ChoppingMay 22nd 2013.

Jonathan Moran odd logic because this place is praised and doesn't seem to be advertised by Mancon

IanMay 21st 2013.

Someone put on twitter it was the worst roast they had had in 2 years in Manchester

9 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 21st 2013.

I visited on Sunday and can agree whole heartily with Man Con on this one - top notch all around.

AnonymousMay 21st 2013.

That tweet was from me, actually. It was really poor. 2 of us had the pork, which was carved in all different sized slices (1 wafer thin, 1 a door stop). The meat was very dry and we received no crackling at all - despite it being on the menu as part of the meal. My other friend had the beef, which was also very over-cooked. The roasties were uncooked in the middle, and had no crunch to them at all. It wouldn't have suprised me if they were Aunt Bessie's! Finally, I wanted a Bloody Mary, but they had no tomato juice! On a Sunday! I decided to go for a beer but, again, was let down by the choice of only 2 lagers and 1 bitter. A real shame, because the pictures above look great, and the place has a nice atmosphere to it.

AnonymousMay 21st 2013.

No tomato Juice? on a sunday? outrageous.

AnonymousMay 21st 2013.

It's just a bit odd, given that a Bloody Mary is such a Sunday staple drink. It's like having serving a breakfast menu without orange juice.

Jonathan SchofieldMay 21st 2013.

So Ian, one twitterer delivers a tweet and that counts for more than a professional review eh?

IanMay 21st 2013.

Professional review? Have to laugh

Jonathan SchofieldMay 22nd 2013.

You are funny Ian. I was being 'pompous'.

AnonymousJune 6th 2013.

sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. Stick to what you know best ...... co-hosting seminar's for jay raynor and shamelessly plugging restaurants who advertise with you.

AnonymousJune 6th 2013.

^ did you see jay rayner's tweet after he read this? "You co-hosted a seminar? I interviewed you for 15 mins out of 3 hours" haha

lukeunabomberMay 21st 2013.

looks damn good

AnonymousMay 21st 2013.

Looks great, will be down again on Sun.

1 Response: Reply To This...
IanMay 21st 2013.

Not "it was great"?

Stephen ShortMay 21st 2013.

So Ian, one twitterer delivers a tweet and that counts for more than a professional review eh? Jonathan, just because you make a living from writing food reviews does not in mind make your opinion any more (or less for that matter) valuable than the opinion of someone who has dined in the same establishment. Especially so because the comments made by these people are made from experiencing the food from a neutral perspective i.e. not for the purpose of making money by writing a review. By the way, I am not criticising you as a person and I do read all your reviews, but good or bad I will always form my own opinion because if we all liked the same the world would be a very boring place

MaggieMay 21st 2013.

Oh well Jonathan, I suppose this string of posts makes a change from lambasting Gordo! I for one like reading restaurant revues as I like eating in restaurants (yes, I am a chubby little butterball). The more we critique our Manchester restaurants, the more they raise their standards - we'll get that michelin star yet!. It's fab to know that 3 Twenty one is making it's own 'home-made desserts', (I tire of plastic desserts in mid-range eateries) and I bet they appreciate the constructive criticism as well - carry on Critiquing!

1 Response: Reply To This...
StephMay 24th 2013.

It's all very well having 'home-made desserts' but if they're no better than bought in ones then what's the point. When I went the base on my apple crumble tart was raw.

food for thoughtMay 21st 2013.

Pâté look terrible, grey and chopped then added to a glass jar to make it smarter, and by the way it's toast not brioche

AnonymousMay 22nd 2013.

Agree with Maggie about making the desserts in-house. Having worked in the Mcr Restaurant industry for some time (now in that there London), you wouldn't believe how many places buy in starters and desserts from 3663/Brakes. A refreshing change. Hats off to this restaurant.

Calum McGMay 22nd 2013.

Haven't been. Looks good. Will try. Appreciate from the negative nancies that any opinion (except their own) is clearly invalid. Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee xxxx

SaraMay 24th 2013.

Having read the reviews and had a Sunday lunch, I also agree, it wasn't great.. Dry, dry & tasteless ALSO the very thin, heavily tattooed, pierced & bearded guy working there totally put me off my food .... Won't be go back!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoJune 1st 2013.

Oh dear. Never mind, Ill have that poor bearded feller dragged out shot dead.

AnonymousJune 6th 2013.

Oh dear. Never mind, Ill have that poor bearded feller dragged out AND shot dead.

AVOJune 3rd 2013.

I went yesterday for Sunday lunch. The tattoed, bearded guy was there and was friendly and welcoming. I really enjoyed the Sunday lunch and so did my girlfriend. The starter of Manchester Egg was amazing. As picked up in the review, the roast potatoes were still a let down. I think they need to use a less waxy, more floury potato.

jrsteeveJune 21st 2013.

Popped in a couple of weeks ago, really nice place and friendly staff, was bitterly disappointed with the ribs though - they were incredibly fatty and the type you'd get from a crap chinese. Shame.

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