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47 King Street West Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield meets a Scot and drinks all the wine in Manchester

Written by . Published on September 16th 2014.

47 King Street West Reviewed

SO a good friend, who's a Scot, decided to debate this Thursday's referendum in 47 King Street West (47KSW), the restaurant that sits in San Carlo's massive shadow.

Rob Francis, the chef, is doing some pin-sharp cooking here. But as with the Art Decor tosh that's now disappeared I still wonder if 47KSW really knows what it wants to be.

I say debate but perhaps that's not the best word as we both agree on what should happen. We think the Scots should say 'No' for every reason there is. All of them: heart, head, economy, identity, culture.   

He's more frustrated than me because David Cameron ballsed up badly in his negotiations with Alex Salmond and disenfranchised him. Thus my friend is not allowed a vote because he isn't resident up there, he lives here and loves it, but nips back frequently. One Britain and all that. This lack of a vote makes him annoyed.

So to assuage our frustrations we took the Ramon Bilbao Rioja in 47KSW and drank it all. Thus in a finger pointing, head nodding way, we lost a Friday afternoon agreeing with each other. Strange how the Scottish referendum is increasing economic turnover in all sorts of ways.

The wine that ate the afternoon - was it three or four bottles?The wine that ate the afternoon - was it three or four bottles?

It was a yes vote for the food.

There's a new mini-course menu at 47KSW, reflecting the present desire amongst customers to sample a range of flavours rather than succumb to the tyranny of the standard starter, main, dessert routine. 

The restaurant's called this menu Le Petit Gourmet, which I think is supposed to hint at French influence. Whatever - as teenagers used to say before they moved on just leaving older folk like me to think it still represented their insouciance.

Le Petit GourmandLe Petit Gourmand

Out of ten dishes, all priced £6, eight were really good, two were really poor. Not a bad return. 

The smoked haddock and leek risotto with poached egg was compact, good-looking, mingling the fierce haddock with the other flavours to great effect. Go for that one.

Very good petit dejeunerVery good petit dejeuner

And definitely go for the battered sardines on brioche with homemade tomato sauce - main picture above.

I love sardines. Passionately.

I've been known to take a tin of sardines, one of those Spanish or French numbers with a beautifully decorated lid, retreat into a dark corner and scoff the whole contents with the intensity and darting, wary eyes of a cat that's found a fillet steak, and is worried a bigger mog might come along and steal it. I growl while eating sardines.

The batter on these babies was light, tempura-style as promised, and the juicy whole sardines, presumably not tinned, made me forget all about the State of the Union for several minutes.

Sauteed wild mushrooms were faves too - are mushrooms on restaurant menus all over the country really wild and how is that defined? Musky, madam, earthy.

Mushrooms - looking wildMushrooms - looking wild

The Le Petit Dejeuner with Bury black pudding, a good muffin, brown sauce jus (whatever that is) and a beauty of an egg was almost up there with the sardines. A cheeseboard had a standout Stilton.

There were two bum notes, failures from start to finish. The steak tartare with horseradish cream was best described as weird but even weirder was the duck rillettes with plum sauce. If these weren't vinegary in the extreme they were either too dry or too oily but they were never good. Work needed here. In fact ditch them and come up with alternatives.

Tartare no taTartare no ta

The other elements of the meal made up for those failings. And the wine helped. The endless Friday afternoon wine. The vats of thought-provoking wine. 

Service was good, attentive and one thing that's improved in 47KSW is the decor. It used to have fake Art Decor frippery when it thought itself a tea shop in the afternoon, and it was deeply dreary. The quality of the Art Decor bits and bobs was pound shop. Thank God they've gone. The simplicity of the triangular room is better now. 

It's a shame the Le Petit Gourmet menu is only available at present between noon and 6pm. But this might change. It should. It would work well in the evening.

Rob Francis, the chef, is doing some pin-sharp cooking here. But as with the Art Decor tosh that's now disappeared I still wonder if 47KSW really knows what it wants to be. The website description promoting its menu of 'French and British cuisine' confuses me. Choose one and stick with it I say.

As with the Scottish referendum. 

My advice would be to call it Modern British and stick with that (and when Scotland votes no we can start to think about a Modern Britain too). There's plenty of room for creativity and opportunity with such a menu description and, in any case, I'm not sure how much on the Le Petit Gourmet menu was very French.

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


47 King Street West, City centre, M3 2PW. 0161 839 1929

Rating: 14/20

Food: 7/10 (sardines 8, risotto 8, mushrooms 7, le petit dejeuner 8, steak tartare 5, duck rillettes 5, cheese 7) 
Service: 4/5 
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, 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

Rillette - no betRillette - no bet

47 King Street

47 King Street

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

Wall-ESeptember 15th 2014.

Those pictures make the food look rank.

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2014.

Scotland already has it's own law, it's incredibly homogeneous culture, it's world famous whisky and special cuisine. For all the reasons you mention "heart, head, economy, identity, culture", give me one reason why Scots shouldn't go it alone? They have a once in a lifetime opportunity to throw off the career politicians of Westminster. You know the ones, they've never had a real job in their lives, they lie when they need your vote then ignore you when they achieve their aims. Good luck Scotland, I hope you vote aye.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ed CaseSeptember 15th 2014.

Thanks mate - it will be close.

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2014.

Art Deco is what I think you wanted to say? Last time I went past this place the cleanliness certificate was only 4/5 which rather put me off. Our chippy's got a 5.

Lynne EdwardsSeptember 15th 2014.

Sorry to be anon but wasn't given an option for some reason....

AVOSeptember 15th 2014.

Went for afternoon tea here this afternoon before I even read this review. It was pretty poor. The sandwiches were made on bread which may have been fresh in the morning but they hadn't been stored properly so the edges of the bread had started to become stale. Cream served with the scones wasn't proper clotted cream, just sweetened whipped cream. Cakes were bought in. The pastry in the tarts was soggy. Coffee could have been served hotter too.

Lorraine ByrneSeptember 16th 2014.

One of my fave restaurants in Manchester - consistently great food and wine. Not had the "tapas" but the "normal" courses are outstanding. Defo recommend it. And they have some great deals on but don't scrimp on quality or quantity, which a lot of restaurants just don't get!

Lucy BaldwinSeptember 16th 2014.

I've only been here once but we had an excellent breakfast here, one full English and one smoked salmon with poached eggs on muffin with Hollandaise sauce (salmon royale?). Good service too so I will definitely try it in the evening. I've also had breakfast once at Cichetti's just over the way and that was poorly executed and poor service so I know where I'll be going next time (although in general I've heard excellent things about the latter).

Alan WharrierSeptember 19th 2014.

Just had the fillet steak and it was EXCELLENT!!!!!

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