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Moet Restaurant and Bar, Selfridges, review

Jonathan Schofield squeezes into Moet Restaurant and remembers his youth

Written by . Published on May 7th 2010.


Moet Restaurant and Bar, Selfridges, review

The first single I ever bought was by Queen. It was Somebody to Love. I was twelve. I then bought a couple of their albums. But before I could grow my hair long like Brian May and take on a flared kecks androgynous look I found punk and New Wave.

The lamb chops might not have been as artful as the terrine but they were still excellent. They were fine specimens of Herdwick, an upland Northern breed, and gloriously flavoured, with run down your chin juice in the fat.

One of the songs on the album Sheer Heart Attack was Killer Queen (click here). The first line is 'She keeps Moet et Chandon in a pretty cabinet/ Let them eat cake she said/ just like Marie Antoinette.' I knew who the latter was but had no clue about Moet et Chandon.

At that time I'd never tasted champagne. My father, I think, thought it effete and Gallic. The sort of drink that would encourage a boy to take on an androgynous look and grow his hair like Brian May.

Now in Manchester - oh how the smoke-blackened Northern capital has changed – we have a bar and restaurant named for the champagne house. The staff pronounce it with a definite 't' at the end of the first word. Freddie Mercury of Queen failed to pronounce the 't' of Moet in Killer Queen. All the food and drink snobs must have turned their backs, sighed and cast their vinyls into their Agas. Food and drink snobs love details like that so they can sneer at others who don't. Food and drink snobs are generally right tossers.

Glad I've got that off my chest. Dear readers you are as therapeutic as a session with a shrink.

Not that fecund a wine

Anyway as far as I could tell there were few queens of any sort when my friend and I visited to review Selfridges' Moet Bar and Restaurant. Here was a well-to-do middling crowd of all ages enjoying the grub and the views across the city in an efficient second floor interior with the smallest tables and chairs the world of catering has ever known.

I'm six foot one, my dining partner shorter. I couldn't get my legs under the table without cutting them off, which seemed too much of a sacrifice for a food review. He couldn't get them under the table without losing all circulation and having them drop off.

“Did you get these on the cheap?” we asked the waiter. He looked like he'd been asked this question a million times. “Did you buy them from a car boot sale run by Snow White's seven little chums?” we joshed. He smiled and enquired as to our order.

We went for the lunch deal, two courses for £15, and then backtracked. The food we wanted had asterisks on them which meant they weren't part of the lunch deal (indeed out of the 16 non-sandwich choices, 8 had asterisks - eh?). So I went for a chicken, Parma ham and tarragon terrine (£6.95) followed by the lamb chops ( £12.95). My friend, who was unaccountably wearing a tablecloth seemingly from a mid-western folksy household, decided on the special of the day, a risotto with gorgonzola, samphire, courgette and a Parmesan crisp (£10.50).

Interior

It was all good, with the terrine the cleverest dish. This was a elegant course, chunkily rugged, finely flavoured, with gooey gelatinous parts as well. It came with a very good radish and tomato chutney and pleasant, if functional, greens.

These aren't a long way away, they're just very smallChocolate MadnessWhere's the terrine?Here's the terrine

The lamb chops might not have been as artful as the terrine but they were still excellent. The lamb was Herdwick, an upland Northern breed, and the loin chops were gloriously flavoured, with run down your chin juice in the fat. They were a proper size too with a rich home-made mint sauce, which I used sparingly because the meat was so good on its own. The accoutrements of mushroom, tomato, spuds and salad were overshadowed by the lamb but were up to standard.

The risotto was so-so. Table-cloth shirt man described it thus: “a bit claggy. A big, colossal dish with no finesse.” It certainly seemed overfacing although the Parmesan crisp was good. The lesson here is maybe don't order a risotto as a main unless you're a meat-fearing vegetarian and there isn't any other choice except another bloody goats cheese dish.

More Herdwick joy

We shared a dessert of chocolate and honeycomb mousse with raspberry shortbread and chocolate shavings (£5.60). This also was massive. It was a vat of lush floaty chocolate with lots of trimmings that we couldn't finish between us. It looked good though – Moet Bar and Restaurant gets the presentation generally right – and no doubt dessert fiends amongst the readers would just bury their head in it and say, “ooh mammy.”

The wine list is interesting rather than exciting. We had a bottle of 2009 Santa Ana Malbec from Argentina (£18.95), the flavour of which died off too quickly in the mouth. My friend after the third glass said, “It isn't as fecund as it thinks it is.” I'm pretty sure that sums it up perfectly.

Six footer's knees get the squeeze

Selfridges Moet Bar and Restaurant gets lots of things right, the service in particular and the food most of the time. But with my legs crushed under the table it didn't half feel like an afterthought. It doesn't even open in the evenings when the store's closed.

Risotto excessivo

The competitor store, Harvey Nichols make you feel that their dining spaces are as important as the fashion retail elements – hence they keep the place open into the evening and do fine dining. They seem to understand that their food is a great showcase for what they are trying to do elsewhere. Selfridges have chosen a different route. After the decline of their foodhall in the basement since its optimistic opening several years ago the food and drink provision has taken a backseat. You feel the chef would love to cut loose and, as Sir Alex F loves to say, "express himself".

To return to the Queen references Moet Bar and Restaurant is good but more Flash Gordon than A Night at the Opera. Shame, it's got great potential.


Rating: 12.5/20
Breakdown: 7/10 food
3/5 service
2.5/5 ambience
Address: Moet Bar and Restaurant
Selfridges
2nd Floor
Exchange Square
City
M3 1BD
0871 9624599

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

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

Hero
GordoMay 10th 2010.

What does 'fecund' mean?

AgricolaMay 10th 2010.

Fecund means

1.
producing or capable of producing offspring, fruit, vegetation, etc., in abundance; prolific; fruitful: fecund parents; fecund farmland.
2.
very productive or creative intellectually: the fecund years of the Italian Renaissance.

Hero
GordoMay 11th 2010.

bloody hell, i was only messing with the software when I put that picture up!

Smyth HarperMay 11th 2010.

That pudding looks absolutely beautiful

NeedtoknowbasisMay 11th 2010.

Oddly the first queen song I bought was Dancing Queen by Abba.

NortherngeezerMay 11th 2010.

Does anybody really have a friend who uses a word such as 'Fecund'??.

Jonathan Schofield - editorMay 11th 2010.

Oh yes, NorthernGeezer, oh very, bloody yes.

AvoMay 11th 2010.

I'll probably be corrected but I once read that you pronounce the "t" when saying Moet et Chandon as you obviously want to differentiate between the Moet and the et but drop the "t" when just saying Moet. Don't know how accurate that is?!?!

AgricolaMay 11th 2010.

Yep Avo you're wrong. Moet is a Dutch name hence the pronunciation.

No Offence IntentedMay 11th 2010.

"That pudding looks absolutely beautiful"

Wasn't sure whether you were talking about the picture of Gordo there or the mousse.

steph185May 11th 2010.

Agricola

Claude Moet the founder was French!

AgricolaMay 11th 2010.

But his dad/grandad was Dutch thus he pronounced it hard T.

TabletopMay 11th 2010.

Those tables don't look fecund for one second.

Smyth HarperMay 11th 2010.

If I'm bought enough mojitos, it could be either...

DescartesMay 11th 2010.

Mojitos? Get yourself a Godfather smitty, that or a Manhattan are the only cocktails a man should have.

avoMay 11th 2010.

I'll get me coat.

Smyth HarperMay 11th 2010.

My mojitos would make Castro's beard fall off. Or cause Hemingway to drop his pen. Cocktails don't come more masculine ;-)

NortherngeezerMay 12th 2010.

Speaking of pronunciation..........why is the 'X' in gateaux silent but not the one in bollox??.

Paul MastersMay 14th 2010.

Selfridges Moet Bar and Restaurant gets lots of things right, the service in particular 3/5 ????

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