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Obsidian

Gordo heads downstairs and finds seafood

Written by . Published on June 24th 2008.


Obsidian

It's a while since Gordo ate at Obsidian - the restaurant underneath the Arora Hotel on Princess Street. It's in a basement: Gordo always tells everyone never to open a restaurant in a basement or on a first floor. Then he is reminded of the multi-Michelin starred Chefs, the Roux brothers, with their fabulous restaurant in Mayfair, in a cellar.

Gordo has become an expert on crabs recently, buying live ones from the lads who come up from Anglesey every Sunday to serve the Chinese community (about £2 for the crabs and £8 for the lobster, major bargain). After about forty crabs he's got his crab mayonnaise off to a fine art.

So, Gordo isn't always right. What about Obsidian? The restaurant has changed hands recently, with a new chef to boot. David Roache. How did he do?

Gordo arrived on a beautiful Friday evening, not really a night to be stuck in a cellar. But, it is a pretty classy cellar when you get down there. There is a bar, which is popular with a good looking young crowd with music which Gordo would describe as 'interfered with classics'. The place has not changed since its opening, the restaurant over to the left has a number of booths, and the tables and chairs are comfortable, particularly the armchairs. The table could have done with white linen, the surface looking a bit on the tired side. The rest of the space reminded Gordo of the milk bar in A Clockwork Orange, albeit somewhat darker and a bit more colourful.

The menu is a modern British affair, one express and the second the spring à la carte. Chef Roache likes to use product in season, thus there's asparagus with Hollandaise (£8.50) as a starter. Gordo goes for the Cornish crab with guacamole and mango with crostini (£8.50) and breaded haloumi cheese with pickled cos, tomato and chilli jam (£6.50). The crab isn't crabby enough and the guacamole and mango doesn't, in Gordo's mind, make for a good dancing partner. The haloumi, presents as a big fish finger and is good. The salad with it is fantastic.Gordo can't dress salads and is slightly in awe of kitchens that get it right and this one does.

Back to that uncrabby crab because Gordo has become an expert on crabs recently, buying live ones from the lads who come up from Anglesey every Sunday to serve the Chinese community (about £2 for the crabs and £8 for the lobster, major bargain). After about forty crabs he's got his crab mayonnaise off to a fine art. Less is more with the mayo and be careful about the additions. A dash of Worcester sauce, half a finely chopped bird eye chilli (not the seeds) and a little freshly squeezed lemon is about it. Toasted farmhouse bread and you are in paradise.

Obsidian's menu is well laid out with a lot of stuff that Gordo would like to try. 'My fish pie' (£13.50) sounds interesting as does poached Scottish salmon, asparagus, Jersey Royal potatoes and Hollandaise sauce (£15.50). There are House Grills with T-bone steak, rib eye, fillet and Kobe fillet (this one at fifty English).

Gordo decides on the lobster and fillet, a whole lobster and an 8oz fillet steak with spinach and oven roast tomato, a dish for two. Actually, a half tomato, a bit mean that for £60. A couple of sides of fat hand cut chips that aren't charged and béarnaise sauce which is at £1.75. Again a bit mean. The sauce is a poor one as well, the tarragon a little raw, as if it had been added after the sauce cooled off. The lobster and fillet are, however, great. The fillet lives up to its promise, great flavour not readily found with this cut, and the lobster is, wait for it, 'meltingly gorgeous', as they say in those big glossy food porn cookbooks. The chips looked a bit anaemic but were fine examples, crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. The lobster was a small specimen mind you, a couple of more ounces wouldn't have hurt.

Puddings were all on at £5.50. Egg custard tart with a sweet nutmeg cream committed the ultimate sin of soggy, uncooked pastry on the bottom. No one has bettered the example at Geese up in Ramsbottom, sadly now closed. Obsidian Trifle – secret recipe, was bloody lovely. It looked lovely. By this time Gordo had been joined one of the Confidential sales execs and her partner, James. Three more spoons were delivered so everyone could have a go, it was that good.

The wine list is a bit bland with Grand Cru Chablis on far too young, 2006 in fact. Gordo is weak on new world wines so he asked the manager to choose for him, and was treated to a really quite unusual Sauvignon Blanc, Suckfizzle from Margaret River, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (£39.95). This was a belter, with a good deal of personality and an unusual smoky background which matched well with the main course.

So, does this cellar restaurant and bar make it? Chef Roache has done a good job with his proposition, Gordo loves his attitude to his ingredients. He needs to revisit the negative points in this review with a positive attitude; if he does he will have a restaurant which steps up a couple of points from local competition down on John Dalton street. Gordo will happily go back. Click here for a blimp at the menu.

Rating: 15/20
Breakdown: 7/10 Food
4.5/5 Service
3.5/5 Ambience
Address: Obsidian
18 - 24 Princess Street
City
M1 4LY
839 7794
website

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

Thoroughbred Manc (aka Ms. Margarita Hunter)June 24th 2008.

If Gordo's going retro and doing the rounds of some of our more established venues, when can we expect another review of Lounge Ten's 'Supper Club' (this forthcoming Friday night, I believe)?

AnonymousJune 24th 2008.

like groovy im going to ask where and when do you get the crab and lobster for those prices?! absolute bargain!

GroovyJune 24th 2008.

Where do I get those crabs??

RayJune 24th 2008.

Haven't been - must try. The wine is suckfizzle by the way, not Buckfizzle (which may be a cocktail of the former with Buckfast...)

AnonymousJune 24th 2008.

Fi- the same could be said for the River Room now that Eyck & head chef Steve Wilson have gone onto pastures new...

mrs hJune 24th 2008.

went to obsidian on the confidential deal of 20% off all food & free glass of house wine...excellent food/service and value!

San AndreasJune 24th 2008.

Gordo, did the earth move for you during this review? Was there an earthquake?

Mr RollsJune 24th 2008.

We had our wedding reception in Obsidian last November and they did a fantastic job - the food was amazing and the staff brilliant ... so there

emma graceJune 24th 2008.

did anyone notice obsidian on corrie last week? it was the venue of choice for Carla's hen do...

GrumpychopsJune 24th 2008.

Gordo ..... Were you blind drunk and seeing double when you ate in Obsidian!? I ate there on Friday and was outraged at the size of my Lobster Thermidore -- Cost me £22 quid and I had less meat than you would find in 2 king prawns .... Tasty enough .... but the lobster didnt even have its claws .... the tastiest part!! Boooooo wint be back

Ken BarlowJune 24th 2008.

The Squire at Gastros had some crabs !!!!!

memeJune 24th 2008.

Please stop writing in the 3rd person.It's incredibly annoying and creates a less personal touch to your reviews, like it's a story that someone else has regales and I am then being told it again, thus giving a less accurate impression. I was in Obsidian the other week, I was very impressed and it was also excellent value at £120 for 5 of us, plus wine.

emma graceJune 24th 2008.

ah yes my mistake...really is extraordinary how many acquaintences we have in common isn't it...

Phil TaylorJune 24th 2008.

Restaurants in basements? How about the once long running 39 Steps in Back King Street or the new Michael Caines at Abode?Anyone remember the Bella Napoli and the Isola Bella, Armenian Tavern, Dutch Pancake House. They all managed over 20 years.

zabzyJune 24th 2008.

No I think you have him confused with Rachel Thornley!!!

LeeJune 24th 2008.

Ate there a few years ago and was disappoited by the food, the service and the prices. Wonder if it deserves a second chance?

scoteeeJune 24th 2008.

Has anyone tried that new cafe "Central Perk" (Manchester) on Picadilly approach yet ?

Simon TurnerJune 24th 2008.

"Dutch Pancake House" was in a basement, so that makes basement restaurants good? Was there for 20 years? Robert Mugabe has been in power for twenty years, doesn't mean he's good.

SimJune 24th 2008.

we went a couple of weeks ago and where really disappointed the lobster had to much garlic all over it and lost its flavour. The chips where soggy. We brought this to the waiters attention and the Chefs comments where that some people like soggy chips ( i am struggling to think of one). We will not be returning and would not recommended anyone to eat there. Over priced and not that nice

Phil TaylorJune 24th 2008.

Restaurants in basements? How about the once long running 39 Steps in Back King Street or the new Michael Caines at Abode?Anyone remember the Bella Napoli and the Isola Bella, Armenian Tavern, Dutch Pancake House. They all managed over 20 years.

emma graceJune 24th 2008.

yes i think we are talking about the same guy...in the closet, too tanned...a bit tubby? had scabies all over his face a while back? very unfortunate...

The Real GordoJune 24th 2008.

Phil, that wasn't the real Gordo, someone nicked his name. Gordo is off to paris for the weekend, look out for his reports!

ZabzyJune 24th 2008.

Yes Emma I noticed this..... what an amazing fact!!!

AlanaJune 24th 2008.

Actually isn't it restaurants on the first floor that fail being too bright and cozy basement restaurants the ones that succeed?

FiJune 24th 2008.

A this restaurant is now in the hands of Compass, it will be interesting to see how it fares - IMO a great big backwards step

zabzyJune 24th 2008.

Yes I know him Emma, very handsome. He can often be seen slipping out of his wet clothes and into a dry martini. Staying on topic I had the Egg custard tart with a sweet nutmeg cream and i found it bloody smashing, it was like there was a party in my mouth and everyone was invited!!!

Colin Crab of RockpoolJune 24th 2008.

Mancon covered was infested with crabs last year...this is the link to the Chinatown story www.manchesterconfidential.com/index.asp…

PaulJune 24th 2008.

We went to this gaff on a Sunday like many restaurants I try a Sunday before committing myself to a full a la carte job the live Jazz lunch sounded nice but never happened it was a CD the girl who had taken some of her friends out for her birthday wasn’t to happy either.Not been back

smartiemcrJune 24th 2008.

Obsidian was great when it first opened, around 2004, but when I tried it again last year the service was totally shocking - the waitress didn't appear to speak much English and evidently hadn't read the menu. She got one of our orders totally wrong, thereby delaying the meal by about half an hour! I was quite embarrassed as I was taking a new colleague out for a celebration lunch and had been raving about the place in advance! Sounds like it might have improved under new management!

GordoJune 24th 2008.

nope, 'twas the suckfizzle...

Melissa ManchesterJune 24th 2008.

Do they still do the Porn Star martinis? Nice.

AnonymousJune 24th 2008.

colin crab - -thanks, you posted before i could get my question on the board!

John WilsonJune 24th 2008.

I have always enjoyed the food in Obsidian especially the Blenheim beef they used to do. The only down point i have experienced is the service has gone down hill since it opened.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 24th 2008.

Indeed it is Suckfizzle will change - thanks. Buckfast by the way is the first step on the road to ruin...despite the fact it's made by monks. Clearly evil ones.

FiJune 24th 2008.

Anonymous, I know Eyk and Steve have gone but I cannot see the River Room resorting to serving mass produced, pre-prepared banqueting fare. I do know however that Mark Hix has been asked to 'simplyfy' the menu at the Lowry - whatever that may mean?????

emma graceJune 24th 2008.

looked much better on TV than it does in real life I think...!

JmboJune 24th 2008.

where do i get these lobster?

emma graceJune 24th 2008.

what a coincidence...i used to have a friend who called himself zabzy...

GordoJune 24th 2008.

Gordo's only got one O level. Leave him alone.

Phil TaylorJune 24th 2008.

Restaurants in basements? How about the once long running 39 Steps in Back King Street or the new Michael Caines at Abode?Anyone remember the Bella Napoli and the Isola Bella, Armenian Tavern, Dutch Pancake House. They all managed over 20 years.

GordoJune 24th 2008.

Phil, **** off, **** off, **** off. :-)_

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