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Harvey Nichols Second Floor Restaurant

Gordo goes up in the world at Harvey Nichols and enjoys the ride

Written by . Published on March 6th 2008.


Harvey Nichols Second Floor Restaurant

Harvey Nichols food outlets have always impressed Gordo, initially on the fifth floor down on Knightsbridge; Gordo used to live next door in another life, using the bar as a great place to meet wealthy women. This was his downfall in the end. The Leeds store also tickled his fancy as a place to take, later in life, rather less wealthy women but much better fun. Then of course the Manchester store arrives and meets with his approval.

Piling mushrooms onto the brioche, then mopping up the egg yolk is a very sexy experience. The dish is perfect in every way and has been, apparently, a best seller.

Looking back over the last three years or so since ManchesterConfidential.com has been open, Gordo discovers that we’ve never actually scored the 2nd Floor restaurant. Gordo has had a few meals there, the best being a set dinner for fourteen people, the main course, roasted racks of lamb, still lingering in Gordo’s memory. Interestingly, it was cooked not by the Head Chef, but his junior, Alison Seagrave. Gordo had her marked down as a star, was he right? The thing is Alison, you see, is now head chef.

Gordo decides on a Sunday to go and have a long lunch and see how Alison is doing. Gordo had seen her at the judging of the North West Fine Foods awards, she was in fine fettle. A knowledgeable young lady who is an ambassador for North West food suppliers, Alison always looks a tad on the shy side and really shouldn’t. She is a delightful girl to talk to. But what about her food?

The roasted wild mushrooms, toasted brioche, soft poached hens egg (£8.00) is a little triumph. The mushrooms lie in a ring, several different types. Inside, a toasted brioche with a perfectly poached egg, the yolk, runny, peeking out of its jacket of just set white, ready to be sliced open so that the yolk pours down over the brioche, into the foam below like a tiny river of molten, yummy magma coming down the side of a volcano. Piling mushrooms onto the brioche, then mopping up the egg yolk is a very sexy experience. The dish is perfect in every way and has been, apparently, a best seller. Rabbit, hot apple jelly and foie gras foam (£10.00) shows Alison’s attention to detail and sense of humour, part of the ingredients list in this one is Appletise, the drink, which lends an intense apple-ey flavour to the affair: difficult to achieve with other ingredients.

Crisp pork belly, smooth apple puree, crackling and black pudding is cooked, probably, for thirty two days. Well, a long time anyway to ensure the meat and fat have melted into each other. The skin is then magically transformed into a thin veneer of lacquered brown deep flavour, with a texture that would have shattered like the burnt bit on a crème brulee, hit by your teaspoon. It lies across a truly homemade black pudding which is every bit as good a Michel Lorain’s boudin noir at La Cotes St Jacques in Joigny, a Michelin three star. The consistency is velvet, with fruit peeking out. Sitting atop pearl barley this lot are dead cheeky. The only criticism is not enough sauce, as that too is excellent and makes a fantastic ménage a trois with both the pudding and the pork. Filthy buggers.

Fillet of English beef, rosti potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and a truffle infused jus (£19.00) knocks my fellow diner off her seat. The rosti is crisp, the fat fillet has been sliced horizontally to show that Alison’s brigade isn’t afraid to cook as requested; perfectly rare. Fabulous saucing on this, all truffley magic.

Cheeses (£8.00) are all well chosen English, Alison picking out the best of the cheese cabinet in the deli, which is one of the top three in the North West. She does a homemade fruit cake with this which is the Scarlett Johansson of fruit cakes, utterly delicious with a bit of bite. The cheese biscuits are Alison’s as well, crisp beauties studded with a touch of sea salt. Nice bunch of grapes as well love.

Bitter chocolate terrine with blood orange jelly (£7.00) which is supposed to be shared with Gordo isn’t, enough said there.The service on the day lets the kitchen brigade down, it’s slow and somewhat broken. For example, bread isn’t offered, Gordo asking for it ten minutes later. The waitress, who looks like she wanted to be to be elsewhere, comes back, offers Gordo a roll, then spun on her heels without offering any to Gordo’s companion. This is slovenly, but not totally indicative of the service overall.

A couple of good wines, Domaine Francois Lumpp, Petit Marols (White) and a red, Givry, Premier Cru, again Francois Lumpp (Gordo approves of this bloke) are in the late twenty, early thirty quid band and value. The problem possibly with the list is a lack of choice unless you are prepared to break the fifty quid barrier.

On the day Gordo is lucky enough to get the corner window table looking out on a beautiful cold, bright blue day with the sun lighting up the old Manchester brickwork as it sinks late in the afternoon - magical stuff. The restaurant from the point of view of décor is a Marmite affair, love it, hate it. For Gordo it was love it. But hates the disco in the brasserie.

Just a note: the pricing has changed; it’s now £30 for two courses, £40 for three.

Rating: 16.5/20
Breakdown: 8.5/10 Food
3.5/5 Service
4.5/5 Ambience
Address: Harvey Nichols
21 New Cathedral Street Manchester
M1 1AD
0161 828 8898
click here for contact details

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

too many shoesMarch 6th 2008.

What a lot of rot you do talk Inspector. Of course some of the food will be pre prepared; it's a busy kitchen in a City centre restaurant for Christ’s sake. Show me a place of that size anywhere that doesn't pre prepare and I bet you Ten English pounds that it’s also not breaking even. And as for the "bought in produce" that you mention - what are you going on about?? Of course it's bought in. I had John Dory in there a couple of weeks ago and as far as I'm aware, this particular fish is not indigenous to the shallows of Manchester, so I assume some nice person freighted it over from New Zealand and kindly sent it to Harvey Nichols for them to deftly prepare it for me. Let's not be sniffy here, as long as it's fresh and tasty at the time of eating, I'm not going to get my knickers in a twist about whether it came off the back of a van in Rusholme or Billingsgate Market. If it's good food, then the end will justify the means.

MJMarch 6th 2008.

I was in at the same time as Gordo and it was interesting to see him in action! We had a beautiful meal and outstanding service, it is remarkable and also unfortunate that the service can be percieved and given so differently. Anyway, I am off to le Gavroche for lunch so must dash......

PaulMarch 6th 2008.

Went to a wine tasting here via Hi-Life they were tight with the wine and must have given Alison four bob budget for the meal although she did well with 20p i think i have to go full ALC to comment properly.

YouriMarch 6th 2008.

Took the good lady wife and a few colleagues to sample the unbelievably valued 21" Menu after a friend almost tripped over her own words excitedley telling me about it. The deal sounded good (£21 for three courses and unlimited house wine), but the food, like our greeting, seemed rather hasty with the first course arriving at the table in quickfire time, even before the drinks had arrived. The same with the main courses also. The food itself, wasn't too great, certainly not to HN's typical standards, as I have dined previously in the Brasserie choosing from the A La Carte menu and have left more than happy. On this occasion though, the dishes lacked care and presentation ( I had the salmon and butterbeans) the fish was overcooked and the plate looked like an artists' paint pallet with the food just 'slopped' on. Granted the brasserie was full to the rafters (about 200 covers), so there has to be some compromise with quality perhaps. Maybe it's a good thing there is endless wine, to take the edge of the food. Please discuss...

Jerzy (George) W. J. BergierMarch 6th 2008.

Well done Gordo, do some people really know what they are talking about where food and drink are concerned? Yes, we do need some food products pre-prepared delivered to our premisses in order for them to be cooked/or finished off and served to our customers, and than Chefs' skills and knowledge comes evident in the finished dishes. Alison is too great of a Chef to have her signature dishes branded with the term of pre-prepared. Wake up InspectorLot and do not embarass yourself. I would like you to challenge us to our HOME MADE corn beef hash!!!

InspectorLotMarch 6th 2008.

Hate to piss on everyone's bonfire here but next time you're in Harvey Nicks, cacking yourself about the food, ask to have a look in the kitchen - as is the rightof a paying customer. I think you'll all be rather surprised at the amount of pre-prepared,bought-in produce used at this restaurant. Maybe that says more however,about the people eating the food than the people preparing it

Keen ObserverMarch 6th 2008.

Mr Gale has'nt started yet , he is still at the City Inn . God help those dozy beggars at the Hilton when he does !

AnonymousMarch 6th 2008.

just a naive question please InspectorLot,can anyone ask to have a look at the kitchen?

ktfairyMarch 6th 2008.

Oooh Matron - what a lovely bit of writing Gordo! You've got me salivating on my keyboard.

JomovMarch 6th 2008.

And they have the best deal in town...when it's on I have to take advantage, 3 courses for £21 and unlimited wine...which, by the way is half decent!

AnonymousMarch 6th 2008.

I have eaten in both restaurant and brasserie and have also had a tour of the kitchen which he has been talking about on a very busy saturday afternoon. I can honestly say it is the cleanest and most efficient run kitchen i have ever seen. The food is all home cooked and freshly prepared on the day!!!

AnonymousMarch 6th 2008.

inspectorROT how dare you? even the staff food is fresh from my recollection.try ordering from the waiters in future instead of deli staff might help.

foodfanMarch 6th 2008.

Love the second floor at Harveys. Alison is probably the best chef in this town. A restaurant you can go to with confidence. Sundays were a favorite of mine when they had the jazz there. Made the afternoon for my wife and I.

too many shoesMarch 6th 2008.

I'm a big fan of this place. The décor is suitably swanky without being stuffy or overly formal and the view across Exchange Square on a sunny day is fab (with great people watching potential). The menu is ever changing unlike some places (yes I mean you Restaurant Bar and Grill/Living Room) and it's always imaginatively prepared using quality ingredients. £21 a head for 3 courses in the City Centre is terrific value, especially when you consider the standard of the grub on offer. More than anything you just get the feeling that the people in the kitchen actually give a damn, which is something sadly lacking in many restaurants in our City that seem happy to churn out average, samey, blah blah blah food whilst still charging you the earth for your trouble. I know what you mean about the waitresses too. It’s not so much that the service is bad, rather it’s the can’t be bothered to be here, truculent attitude that some of them seem to display that’s the issue. That aside, it’s my favourite place of its type in town. Out of interest, does anyone know if Podium has pulled its socks up since Mr Gale’s arrival? To be fair it couldn’t have got any worse.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2008.

I have recently eaten in the 2nd floor restaurant at Harvey Nichols and was very pleasently supprised. Not what i was expecting from the right up in the AA guide. I was told that the menu had recently changed and the standerd steped up and this was certainly true. The food was outstanding, the best meal i have had, and a clear step above anywhere else i have eaten in Manchester. Maybe the AA should re visit Harvey Nichols 2nd floor restaurant and update their guide.

GordoMarch 6th 2008.

Why thank you KT, a great compliment. Schofield, you getting this? MJ, say hello next time, I will buy you a drink on the firm! Gavroche eh? Blimey. I have just had fish and chips at the Kingfisher Caff, bloody great. Then had to overdo it with carrot cake at Love Saves The Day. Lovely stuff, but going to have a kip under the desk now.

GordoMarch 6th 2008.

Don't get excited about Inspector. Not one single dish on that menu comes'bought in' in the sense that the Brakes Brothers frozen food van is delivering to other kitchens. He is talking tosh. Not one dish i have eaten in four years has been 'brought' in. Obviously the bacon is, as it would be rather inconvenient to have an abbatoir and smoke house next to the kitchen. As would a creamery to make the butter. I don't think they have a vegetable patch and herb garden on the roof either for that matter.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2008.

it is interesting for me to read these insights as I am just a "reader" (not an expert for food and restaurants). So, from my point of view, thanks InspectprLot, you triggered these responses.

nonny mouseMarch 6th 2008.

Well if it's bought in pre-prepared as you say, and a surprise then frankly I don't care. A great deal of respect should be given to anyone who can 'polish a turd' so to speak. And when you consider some of the special price menu's they run, they have to turn a profit somehow!

moumouMarch 6th 2008.

I went for 21 deal the food was nice but service was rather slow. 10% service should not be added automatically to the bill coz it's not that great. Love the view though

BigboyMarch 6th 2008.

Paul, don't you mean Low-Life? Everyone in the business can't stand Hi-Life punters, they are amongst the meanest on the planet. Tap water drinking non tippers.

PaulMarch 6th 2008.

I think you are getting me mixed up with someone else we always have a bottle of wine each plus beer and always double up on tip due to savings. Tar and Brush !

outragedMarch 6th 2008.

InspectorLot, give us more info on your comments about the amount of pre prepared produce being used. I used to work in that kitchen and have no memory of this!

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