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Podium Examined

Jonathan Schofield finds the lamb beguiling at the foot of the tower

Published on May 31st 2012.


Podium Examined

DAVID GALE has an idea and its paying off. As good ideas always do.

There's a lot right with the way David Gale works. He produces good-looking food that makes sure it balances flavour, texture and innovation. 

The executive chef of Hilton Manchester Deansgate, and a well-known regional food figure, has simplified dining by taking inspiration from a recent New York trip. Rather than the traditional a la carte he's offering a simple 1/2/3 courses menu at £15/£21/£29. 

PodiumPodium

For some of the best cooking in the North West this frees people from the tyranny of worrying over choice. 

In price.

Not in food options, unlike L'Entrecote, click here

There are still eight starters and eight mains and guess what...yep, eight desserts. There's also a comprehensive cheeseboard and lots of supplementary grills. So still plenty to choose from.

The simplification in the pricing has led to an upturn in sales. That's good. Gale deserves his plaudits and his extra punters. It's all really down to the cooking.

Take roasted cauliflower risotto with pan fried scallop which was timed accurately in the risotto, timed perfectly with the scallop, and then given the extra oomph all good dishes need with a delightful pancetta crisp and some crispy capers pan fried with a little flour to make them explode in the mouth like tidsy Mediterranean grenades.

It's hard not to appreciate a crispy caper.

RisottoRisotto

The slow roasted and smoked char sui pork with braised bok choy in a mirin soy and miso broth didn't look quite as appealing but hit home with stong flavours enhanced by spicy nuanced punches of heat.

Char sui porkChar sui pork

The same went for one of the dishes of my week, the mint crusted lamb rack all elegantly arranged with Jersey Royal spuds and a standout (stand up and applaud) pea and broadbean salad. The latter was lush and buttery and hit it off with the tender baa-baas beautifully.

LambLamb

For dessert we were under pressure from staff at Confidential. On an earlier visit they'd stated the rich chocolate tart with salted caramel and candid peanuts with peanut ice-cream (all desserts are £6.95) was the 'best they'd ever had'. 

It was a little rich for me but had the others at the table purring. The keynote here was surprise, with bursts of caramel and peanut in unexpected areas. 

Better I thought was the gorgeous Tonka Bean creme brulee using the perfumed, vanilla-like, South American seed to the full. Feast your eyes on that caramelised crust below.

Tonka toy supremeTonka toy supreme

The cheeseboard at £2.50 a piece looks stunning too and, from the menu next to my computer, is winking at me to make a quick return to Podium. Roquefort Papillion anyone? Colton Bassett Stilton? Dolcelatte from Padua?

Another quality of Gale is the way he gives the brigade he works with a chance to shine. Each week the menu features a dish that one of his team has developed under Gale's guidance. This time Sam Stewart was named on the menu for his salmon assiete. This must make the chefs at Podium feel valued and also produce an atmosphere of creativity and healthy competition.

There's a lot right with the way David Gale works.

He produces good-looking food that makes sure it balances flavour, texture and innovation. You could say clean flavours are the man's halllmark.

Gale also pays close attention to where he sources his food. For instance he stands outside any bulk buying policy and procures his best meat from Mettricks, the award-winning butcher in Glossop.

Last week I wrote in the Livebait review of how we are living through very good food times in Manchester. Gale and his cooking is at the heart of that. I can't score the food here because the meal was hosted by Podium restaurant and that isn't our policy, but to be cheeky, if I were to, on our measure it would easily be 17/20.

Podium Restaurant is at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate (Beetham Tower), 330 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LQ. 0161 879 1600.

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paulMay 31st 2012.

Podium Ground floor I don't get it !

bigearsMay 31st 2012.

think its a little cheeky putting a score on here - its not a review and i know you say its not your policy so why do it? Just makes people think that due to them advertising on here that you did it. never seen you score somewhere you haven't reviewed. bit bias really

1 Response: Reply To This...
MaggieMay 31st 2012.

Chill Bigears, life is too short to be so pompous...........

Rob SpicerMay 31st 2012.

Went here the other week and had a fantastic meal. I couldn't fault the coliflower risotto and the lamb! Staff we're very friendly too, although having a bottle of tonic spilt on me on arrival wasn't the best start, but they more than made up for it. A steal of a meal with my 25% off!

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