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Opus One, Radisson Edwardian, review

Jonathan Schofield finds it tough in the five star environment and isn't tickled pink

Written by . Published on February 8th 2010.

Opus One, Radisson Edwardian, review

I love the bar at the Radisson Edwardian. It's got a louche charm, a decadent dose of dreamy sensuality all its own. The colours, the layout, the drapes make it seem a second-home for assignations legitmate or illegitmate.

The food needs to fly free to reflect that heritage. Brown needs to cut loose. This place should have sexy food, it should be a show-stopper, an automatic choice for the idle rich, the nouveau riche, the food lover and the wealthier Conference visitor, where they can bask in finessed, subtle but spectacular food.

It plays its part so well you can forgive that a G&T costs as much as a bungalow in Blackley. After all you're here presumably, for a five-star experience, because, after all the Radisson Edwardian is five star.

The restaurant Opus One, extends back from the bar in this double height salon and has suffered at the hands of an overactive designer trying to be clever. I've repeated this ad nauseum to all and sundry but the spectacular neon lights around the columns in pink red are simply rubbish for food presentation. Everything takes on an unbecoming blush.

They work beautifully in the bar and bugger up the restaurant. The colour should be neutralised in the latter space and kept vivid in the former in a symmetrical two by two arrangement (you can see three of these columns in the picture below). Easy to say of course but probably expensive - I've never seen the bulbs they use here in the A&S Hardware Store in Old Trafford, despite their extensive range of garden lighting systems.

Blazing menu

After suffering from a hyper-wobbly chair – not good for a five star hotel, attention to detail folks – the menu seemed to be the corrective for lighting and seating errors. It reads wonderfully well, with care being shown to make it wintery, gamey and warming, which, given the start to the year, was just right.

We had:
Caremelised brown onion soup with Appleby's Cheshire cheese samosa (£5.75);
Smoked salmon and scrambled egg tortellini with sage and parmesan (£6.25);
Fillet of English beef, pressing of local rabbit, roof top herbs, onion gnocchi (£23.95);
Venison plate, fig tart, bramble jus, aged malt foam, neaps (£19.50).

Other dishes looked tempting too such as the guinea fowl breast, chestnut and cepe mousse, grouse and root vegetable pie (£16.50). Note the prices as well, very reasonable for a five star hotel, scarcely anything breaking the twenty quid let-me-entertain-you price.

Venison to the front

But looking through my notes now, I realise there is almost nothing to say about the food. A mushroom based amuse was good, the samosa in the soup was good, the roof top herbs (literally grown on the roof of the Radisson Edwardian) were charming, the bramble jus was lovely, the malt foam a clever idea as an accompaniment for the venison, the rabbit pressing was fine, the neaps handy.

Two columns good (one hidden in this pic), two columns badRed mist interior

But nothing sparkled except the service. None of the dishes really said, “now look here, you'll be talking about me into March”. Actually the citrus jelly, orange and almond sponge, blood orange and ginger sorbet (£5.95) was excellent, but mostly the flavours in each dish merged into one another with one theme, and that was heaviness – especially where they should have been lighter with the tortellini a prime guilty party. Worse, in many instances, despite the fine menu, the dishes were simply dull.

I'm sorry about this as I've met the chef, Russell Brown, and he's a good man with sound ideas about cooking. A sampling menu I once tried seemed to be zooming off in the right direction. But with reluctance I have to say the actual punter's dining experience has frequently let me down.

Glowing mushroom

At present Opus One doesn't live up to the five star hotel billing or its central city position in the fine old Free Trade Hall.

Perhaps Brown should take that heritage as his start point. The Free Trade Hall is at the centre of Manchester's history, it has played host to a glamorous pageant of players from Charles Dickens, Edward Elgar, Ellen Terry, Oscar Wilde to The Who, The Rolling Stones even the Sex Pistols. The Suffragettes raised their Votes for Women banner here. (All of which does nothing to explain the frankly bizarre Oriental theme from the hotel designer. Especially since the name of the restaurant refers to the fact it was the former home of the Halle Orchestra.)

Matching pudding, all rouge

The food needs to fly free to reflect that heritage. Brown needs to cut loose. This place should have sexy food, it should be a show-stopper, an automatic choice for the idle rich, the nouveau riche, the food lover and the wealthier Conference visitor, where they can bask in finessed, subtle but spectacular food. On the Thursday night we visited, over the two hours we spent there, we had the company of seven people on three other tables in the large dining area. The bar, tellingly, was busy.

I have an old bill of fare from the opening day of the third Free Trade Hall from 1856. The supper dishes are simply written but tempting, lobster, tongues, breast veal with jelly, partridges, all at 2/6. Cliquot champagne is 10 shillings a bottle. Brown has more or less all this on the menu, now he needs to glam it up.

Fighting pasta
Rating: 12.5/20
Breakdown: 6/10 food
4/5 service
2.5/5 ambience
Address: Opus One
The Radisson Edwardian
Peter Street
M2 5GP

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

Lady LFebruary 9th 2010.

JS - what a disappointment to read this review. I went here with the Fat One a few years ago to review and we gave it a much higher score and were blown away and had a super lovely time. I just adore the red/pink lighting - perhas just not to your taste? This is my favourite city bar and I am often found in here with Mr Halle himself pretending we're having an illegitimate assignation, when in reality just having quick drink en-route home post Opus one gig!

GordoFebruary 9th 2010.

Lady L, I agree with you, Jonathan truly hates the decor, which pulls the review down a couple of points; others love it, so don't be put of Jonathan's obsession with the red lights, its a good place for a posh dnner IM not so HO

mcr dinerFebruary 9th 2010.

I've eaten at Opus twice now and both times I've been left feeling disappointed. The first time I put down to a one off, but the second time was worse. The staff were too quick to ask if the food was ok, as it felt my grumbles were not unusual.

Its such a shame as the Hotel is lovely and the environment is very welcoming. The food needs a revamp!

NortherngeezerFebruary 9th 2010.

Stayedhere and ate on New Years Eve, i cant say the menu stood out then either. Thought the after hours service in the bar was poor too, one person serving with another numpty collecting glasses cos he wasnt 'trained' to serve alcohol. The room we were in looked tired too and brekky in the morning was only as good as yer average 3*. All in all, not a 5* experience from anywhere here, we wont be going back.

SmileyFebruary 9th 2010.

The food is disappointing, been seven or eight times as a guest. You can tell that there's something wrong with Opus One because there's never anybody in and no-one ever talks about it.

John DayFebruary 9th 2010.

I agree with the comments about the light as it does not complimemt the great food served, whenever I have been it has been busy also with celebs. I think opus is a great venue to take the missus.

Smyth HarperFebruary 9th 2010.

You need to have a second drink any time you go there in order to get over the shock of the price of the first. And then a third to get over the price of the second, and then a fourth... Until you end up a bankrupt alcoholic allergic to bright light.

NortherngeezerFebruary 9th 2010.

FFS Smiley, 7 or 8 times...................You a glutton for punishment or sumfink!!!!

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