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Kaleido Restaurant Review

Jonathan Schofield is wowed by a nigh-perfect lunch, and perplexed by a dining conundrum

Written by . Published on January 29th 2013.


Kaleido Restaurant Review

THIS was good. The food was well-crafted, exquisite to look at and full of flavour. 

My main of Texel lamb was magnificent, slow cooked, fibrous, rich as Croesus, as finely executed as the heroine's nose in a Jane Austen novel. 

Kaleido, the restaurant that sits above the National Football Museum, was on top form.

Paul Riley, the chef, was on top form.

So why were there so few guests in the restaurant?

More of that later, but really this food deserved a far larger audience. The deal was two courses for £14.50 and three courses for £19. It was a steal.

Kaleido, very special menuKaleido, very special menu

First up there was an appetiser which was a little thriller. It was made up of scrambled egg as ice cream, a wafer of smoked bacon and a dainty purée of chives. All lovely.

Little pot: just like thisLittle pot: just like thisIt had drama too, coming in a heavy little pot you expected to grow legs and run away. When you lifted the lid, a clean aroma of wood and earth wafted out that put me much in mind of sitting in a Sami tent several years ago in December. We were two hundred miles beyond the Arctic Circle, being made to drink aquavit, with loads of wet and smelly huskies sprawled about the place.

That may sound unpleasant. It was anything but, it felt the essence of natural, the essence of comforting. As was the appetiser.

Scambled egg ice creamScambled egg ice cream

A first course of oxtail risotto with bone marrow parsley was just as good. It was crazy with oxtail flavours, the rice was stickily perfect, the bone marrow was greasily wrong but so very right at the same time. Top stuff.

Oxtail risotto, bone marrowOxtail risotto, bone marrow

Another starter of bouillebaise was delicacy defined. Complete with requisite lumps of fish, a judicious use of oil, and soft persistent fishiness, it was excellent. The only doubt was over the beetroot bread, which looked frightening, and smacked of gimmickry. 

BouillebaiseBouillebaise

My main of Texel lamb was magnificent, slow cooked, fibrous, rich as Croesus, as finely executed as a heroine's nose in a Jane Austen novel. I adored this dish. I particularly adored the haggis that came with it and sang songs and danced jigs with the swede and the turnip. The whole collection of lovely flavours had substance as well as style.

Texel lamb by the way, is baa-baa from the North Sea island of Texel off the Dutch coast. Sea air and salty meadows give the lamb flesh a natural seasoning. 

Texel lambTexel lamb

The salmon was as well presented as the other courses and had a lovely fresh sheen on the skin. The samphire, fennel and vanilla, mingled to very good effect in a confit that was extraordinarily refined. 

SalmonSalmon

Only one of the two puddings need detain us.

The caramelised apple tart with tonka bean ice cream broke beautifully to reveal a succulent, warm, apple interior. The ice cream helped out. The plate it arrived upon, was cleaned so thoroughly by us diners it looked like it had never been used. An exceptional dessert.

Apple tartApple tart

A rhubarb and prosecco jelly, with clotted cream and honey madelaine was overburdened by a lumpen amount of jelly at its base. That was a shame as it let down a wafer of rhubarb suffused with prosecco on top. The wafer was as good anything in the other dishes. 

RhubarbRhubarb

Clearly Paul Riley has sorted any problems in the kitchen in terms of delivering quality.

This lunch time deal - maybe for a time it should be extended into the evening too - is a real star in Manchester at present. If you have a little spare cash and feel like an elevated dining occasion in more than one sense, give it a go. 

So why is the place so quiet? 

Maybe fine dining over the National Football Museum seems a strange proposition to punters - but Kaleido has a separate entrance and identity, so the quietness shouldn't necessarily be anything to do with that.

Is the problem that you have to scoot up five or six levels in a lift to access the bar and restaurant? The views are good but they're not those of Cloud 23. Maybe Kaleido is too high but not high enough?

I can't believe that's the reason either.

In fact I think all the above issues are surmountable. What Kaleido has to work at is atmosphere, it has to live up to its name.

This is a taken from the word Kaleidoscope, and is an oblique reference to the many colours and creeds of football, to the game's global appeal. The restaurant and bar here are steel and concrete and glass, the opposite of football's cosmopolitan exuberance. It's like one of those new stadiums that need the crowd to animate it.

Kaleido cries out for softening colours and fabrics. At present there are ugly gossamer silver curtains like cobwebs over Miss Haversham's wedding table in Great Expectations, they need to be replaced with something plush and lush and maybe heavy and velvet.

The booths add to starkness of the place. Instead of white leather with the odd coloured stud, Kaleido should make features of them, have them re-covered in scarlet or royal blues. Plants should be introduced. Big ones. 

Given the overwhelming green glass walls, I reckon Kaleido should turn itself into a bawdy, hothouse, modernist bordello in the sky; lift the mood not dampen it with an operating theatre atmosphere. The managers might want to take a look at the scarlet and black interior of Lounge Ten on Tib Lane, see how it holds people in its moody embrace. 

Kaleido - glass attackKaleido - glass attack

The National Football Museum is going to smash its visitor number targets in its first year - click here.  It might want to deflect some of the dosh upstairs, help out the catering operator Kudos. The food deserves support from the decor because on the evidence of this visit it's Premier League. I reiterate, go, foodies go.

One final thing. Kaleido needs to repair the door to the kitchen. All through the meal I thought a woman was being tortured. In the end it turned out to be a haunted door that automatically screams as staff enter the kitchen.

Of course, that could become a tourist attraction in its own right. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield 

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE.  

Kaleido, above the National Football Museum, Urbis Building,
Cathedral Gardens, City, M4 3BG. 0161 871 8160

Rating: 14.5/20 (Remember venues are rated against the best examples of their kind so check out the box below)

Food: 8.5/10 (appetiser 8.5, oxtail 8, bouillebaise 8, lamb 8.5, salmon 8, apple tart 8.5, rhubarb 7)
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 2.5/5

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.

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

Craig GaleJanuary 29th 2013.

Sounds like time for a revisit

Daniel JamesJanuary 29th 2013.

We have eaten here twice, both excellent, the first time was from its Christmas menu , which can always be hit and miss. Here however, it was a clear hit, as was our returning visit this year.

The special offers are excellent value, and service is also top notch. well worth a visit (and no I don't work for the company - just a happy punter!)

lukeunabomberJanuary 29th 2013.

gonna check this. sounds great johnathon

Mrs DJanuary 29th 2013.

We have loved it each time we have been- can't understand why it's always so empty.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Bilbo BobbinsJanuary 29th 2013.

I have never heard of it before reading ManCon a while back, are they trying to keep the place secret?

Marcus EadyJanuary 29th 2013.

I ate here before Christmas, the service is second to none and you'd struggle to find this quality and service any better at a 5 star resort hotel either. The atmosphere did seem a little flat and I, myself thought exactly the same as Jonathan, that deeper, plush colurs would give a much better ambiance as there is plenty of light through the floor to ceiling windows. Paul Riley is a revelation too for Manchester dining. Every course he prepares with careful thought and countless hours of testing and perfecting. Hope that this place takes off as it deserves, but doesn't go too mainstream.

Sean FinneganJanuary 29th 2013.

I hate slate plate food looks good though. Going with the Social Wife, on Tuesday

Tania HarveyJanuary 29th 2013.

I've been here many times for lunch and love it. I however disagree about the decor as I love it. But I do agree that I can't understand why it's always so empty at lunchtime, fab views and food is always top notch. I must try in the evening sometime.

Jane CarrollJanuary 29th 2013.

I had a terrible meal here - the food was average, but the portions were so tiny. Looking at your pics - I might try again - give them another chance. Maybe they listened when we said it was Borrower portions...and I meant it literally, not sarcastically.

Simon TurnerJanuary 29th 2013.

That salmon looks a bit clinical. The decor too.

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoJanuary 29th 2013.

Blimey Simon, i think it looks great.

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2013.

It all looks a bit clinical. Give me The Mark Addy any day

1 Response: Reply To This...
Bilbo BobbinsJanuary 29th 2013.

Is that you R.O.B? :-)

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2013.

The salmon looks horrendous

AnonymousJanuary 29th 2013.

I'll give this a go. I think it looks nice.

ConmanJanuary 29th 2013.

I think it deserves an extra point for the haunted door. What a fantastic feature - every restaurant should have one!

Victoria UreñA MolinaJanuary 29th 2013.

I was there having dinner for my birthday and food was lovely. A shame that there were only 2 tables with people.
Wine was gorgeous and the starters amazing.

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2013.

Admittedly I didn't know it was there! After reading this article I'm defo going to try it.

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2013.

I so agree the portions are tiny.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
LizardJanuary 30th 2013.

I think this has changed

AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2013.

We wouldn't chance it again because of that . Maybe other diners feel the same and that's why it isn't busy.

Kathy DroganFebruary 1st 2013.

Have eaten several times and love the food and venue you all should try

Justin MorrisFebruary 2nd 2013.

Was thinking of going sat afternoon. Checked menu as was looking forward to oxtail risotto and texel lamb. Menu on website completely different. Ho hum.

ChefoFebruary 2nd 2013.

Hi Justin, We change our lunch menu on the first of every month. Sorry you missed out! Please check out the new menu online.

Wall-EFebruary 2nd 2013.

Might give it another go. Empty, ok food and tiny portions last time. The express menu does look good value.

DrakeFebruary 2nd 2013.

Amused by the idea that some soft furnishings will mean more people are attracted. It seems to be getting people in in the first place that's the trouble. Maybe they're advertising in the wrong place? Lack of walk-by/walkins due to the ludicrous control over advertising on that building can't help.

JanieBFebruary 4th 2013.

I have been twice for dinner and the food is lovely. One of the drawbacks though, is its proximity to the Printworks and the difficulty of getting a taxi.

Josaphine FordApril 30th 2013.

I ate here last night and was really impressed by the service (second to none) and the food was fantastic, especially as it was reasonable for the quality received. My new favourite restaurant in Manchester!!! Cocktails are good too!

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