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MC Restaurant at Abode

Gordo and Schofield have their say at the launch of the bright new hope of Manchester fine dining

Written by . Published on March 18th 2008.

MC Restaurant at Abode

Gordo loves the way Abode uses its loaf

It’s the bread wot did it. Gordo could smell it on approach.

Armed with a full glass of Michael Caines’ own brand champagne, a lovely brioche aroma and a mousse with the sexiness of a Toulouse-Lautrec purple velvet clad lady swatting the aristocracy like flies in Maxims circa 1898, Gordo knew he, and the rest of Manchester were onto a winner.

Michael Caines, the one armed, Michelin two star chef with a three star personality had arrived and was feeding a lucky few in his new restaurant in the basement of Abode, formerly the Rossetti. By gum, how this place has changed. The makeover of the whole hotel has been remarkable and will be commented upon in more depth in another article, for the minute Gordo has just 450 words to give his enraptured readers his view on the day. He only needs one actually. Sublime. That’s the one. Sublime.

Jerusalem artichoke soup was served in a small tea cup, with tiny, slightly crunchy cubes of ‘choke in the bottom, with a soup that had started life as a gorgeous bit of stock, simmered for three hours, then had a little magic mixed in and topped with foam. Good, tight flavours and well handled seasoning. Some thought it a little underwhelming, but it was just right as a base for what was to follow.

Terrine of foie gras with pickled rhubarb was a Miro on a plate moving the meal up a gear or two. A raviolo of spinach and parmesan, herb puree and rosemary cream, was a vegetarian dish that was out of this world. Pan fried brill, creamed leeks, wild mushrooms and chive butter sauce came a close second with another heavyweight arriving, best end of lamb with onion and thyme puree, fondant potato and tapenade jus (a dollop sat in a small, tiny half of tomato that had been baked. The two flavours took off inside your mouth like sixty five Tinkerbells).

Millefeuille of banana parfait, caramelised banana and lime coulis was not as good as the glazed lemon tart with Chantilly cream, a classic Caines pudding eaten a couple of days earlier upstairs , executed to perfection by Kylie Smith, possibly the best pastry chef currently working in Manchester. Kylie works both stations.

The wines are top notch, more on these in the ‘big’ review in a few weeks.

The meal was memorable. But quite frankly, Gordo knew it would be the minute the bread hit the table. A nice basketful, it smelled of home, being safe and all wrapped up in a huge fluffy towel that had been warming by the fire.

Manchester desperately needs the bar to be raised with new blood in the kitchens and Mr Caines is, it seems to Gordo, the man to do it. Welcome to you and your excellent brigade.

Gordo’s preliminary rating

Rating: 18.5/20
Food 9/10
Service 4.5/5
Ambience 5/5

Jonathan Schofield says three of the best is a fabulous start

The really standout dish at the launch of MC Restaurant at Abode was the size of an experiment in nano technology.

It was raviolo (a singular piece of pasta, hence not ravioli) of spinach and parmesan arranged on a plate with artful smudges of herb puree and rosemary cream and salad leaves. Doesn’t sound much but, wow, it was so sophisticatedly simple that you found yourself grinning inanely, like Brian Sewell suddenly caught enjoying Reality TV. It was one of those dishes which make the over-indulged palate swoon and refresh itself. It was why the notion of fine dining was invented: if fine dining means eating for delight and the whole sensuous occasion of it, rather than merely for nourishment.

And to think it had started off flat. The Jerusalem artichoke soup had been luke warm and clumsy. The terrine of foie gras with pickled rhubarb was a disturbing festival of anatomical pink, although the rhubarb almost made it work (best moment here was when, Manchester’s Marcel Proust, Howard Sharrock, said, “rhubarb is the lost taste of boyhood”, evoking memories of shinning up trees to flush out conkers).

But the raviolo dispelled the concerns. Next up we got a brill dish which was Brill. Or maybe we got a Brill dish which was brill. Either way I was happy, because the dish looked gorgeous and tasted wonderful: an equilibrium of mushrooms, leeks, chives and the flesh of the fish. The best end of lamb with a rosemary crust along the edge, onion and thyme puree, fondant potato and a glorious tapenade jus, was almost as good. Rounding things off was a superb millefeuille of banana parfait followed by exquisite petit fours.

A subtle element to the whole experience was the muted tones and clever lighting of the restaurant, which lets the food and service do the talking. This is restrained and classy with a gentle air of luxury - like a good set of Church’s brogues.

After the meal the charming main man Michael Caines came along for a chat. And after him came Ian Matfin. Caines is a lovely fella who wears his two Michelin stars from Gidleigh Park, Devon, with ease and pride, but in Manchester we need the emphasis firmly placed on Matfin. He will be the day- to-day head chef: it’s up him to build on the excellent dishes we had at the launch. The last thing we want is for the MC Restaurant to become a shadow venue for a celeb chef, we’ve been burnt with those before in Manchester. Fortunately the signs are that Matfin will be his own man.

Gordo and I will be fighting it out to see who does the main review in a couple of weeks when the kitchen is settled.

Schofield’s preliminary rating

Rating: 18/20
Food 9/10
Service 4/5
Ambience 5/5

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: Gordo gets carried away

MC Restaurant and Champagne Bar
Abode Hotel
107 Piccadilly
M1 2DB
0161 247 7744

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

GPMarch 18th 2008.

I was excited to hear that Michael Caines was opening a restaurant in Manchester some months back, now giddy at the prospect of dining there on 5th April for my hubby's birthday. It's about time Manchester had an outstanding fine dining restaurant akin to the many we have frequented in London.

AnonymousMarch 18th 2008.

Nice one....'a disturbing festival of anatomical pink'. Interesting idea this head to head with Gordo and Schofield. As for the restaurant I've booked in for next week on the strength of these words.

Michael CainesMarch 18th 2008.

Ben - many thanks for your comments, i'm thrilled that your dining experience inspired you to comment. You might be surprised to know that you dined in the cafe bar on the ground floor. Gordo et al reviewed my signature restaurant downstairs that opened yesterday. Maybe if you return to entertain your friends downstairs you'll be inspired to write a book. Hope you return soon. Cheers MC

moumouMarch 18th 2008.

I went there on last Saturday ww booked mentioned ManCon. We were sat on ground floor the atmosphere was not that good. Food was just ok not impressive I ordered lemon tard which tasted like washish liquid was really bad my boyfriend had to eat it while he order brownie his wasn't bad after all not impressed

JtBMarch 18th 2008.

i'm sold, any offers?

JamesMarch 18th 2008.

A terrific new addition to the city restaurant scene, exciting food, good service, wonderful space. I loved it and will be back.

PaulMarch 18th 2008.

I may be able to afford it if i save up and dont go out as much but by then it will have closed down

benMarch 18th 2008.

It's not often I feel inspired to write about restaurants, but this was one of the nicest eating experiences I've had in Manchester for a very long time... the fixed menu with a bottle of wine and three courses for three people came to only around £50 and the food was fantastic, as was the service. Well done, I hope it remains this way as I will be back if it does!

shagappyMarch 18th 2008.

this place is so much better now they have have opened up that area with the cafe bar, much more welcoming. The Mal has some good competition. Whilst David Gale delivered some great food over at the City Inn, the place is a bit wishy washy for me. Gordo has that bread spot on, (in the cafe) it is bloody graet.

Big EaterMarch 18th 2008.

I dined upstairs on the mancon night, absoluteley fantastic. I really am looking forward to having a go at the restaurant downstairs. The satff on the night were fantastic.

CountryboyMarch 18th 2008.

I dined at Abode on Wednesday with Countrygirl and two other Countryfolk. Without exception every dish was faultless, and we had 16 between us. This was cooking of a very high standard. Every constituent of every dish played its part to make the end product perfect. The service was efficient and friendly to the right degree, particularly the restaurant manager, Dan. It would be unfair to highlight any one of the dishes, so i'll just mention three. the smoked eel with lentils, the boudin of chicken and the best end of lamb. Oh, and the bread was amazing, yes, amazing as that may seem, it was. And dont get me started on the Pedro Ximenez dessert wine. I think next visit I shall settle in the champagne bar and 'graze' until all my money's gone.

NingeMarch 18th 2008.

I was at the ManCon night and I must say my entire party were quite disappointed. The platters offered were both very bland, and the salads quite flavourless. We were quite surprised that our marinara pizzas, which was described as having tiger prawns on, came piled high with squid, with just one tiny prawn between us.. although I was the lucky one to get it. The dessert however was delicious in fairness, however that was soon forgotten after the house wine stripped several layers of skin off our tongues and throats. On the other hand it was free... but all in all turned out to be a big pile of crud, and as the winner of the prize, I felt embarassed at taking my friend there.

cllr.pat karneyMarch 18th 2008.

Not sure if personal ads are allowed but.....Sad and lonely needs someone to take me to this place.Sounds amazing.Will throw in my personally signed photo of Richard Leese.Not sure I understood all the menu but well done Mr Caines.

Gary LovattJuly 4th 2011.

Went to MCs on Friday night on our much anticipated office night out. What an awful experience.

We were left waiting in the sterile hotel lobby for an hour before they could 'seat' us only to then see that the restaurant wasn't even that busy.

A further hour waiting for the food meant we only got to eat at 10pm. The food was good but I've seen bigger portions in a tapas bar. Lamb at £8 a mouthful (2 in total) left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed.

Sensing disapointment on the faces of just about everyone in our party, the bill arrived in record time and we left to the embarrassed looks of all staff.

Pretentious and sterile may have its place in London but for a group of professionals looking for a nice restaurant and evening out, MC's fell way short of the mark I'm afraid...

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