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REVIEW: Podium | Deansgate Hilton

Jonathan Schofield has dinner with Iain Dowie watched by 10 counties

Written by . Published on December 8th 2014.

REVIEW: Podium | Deansgate Hilton

'DID you know', said the chatty menu at Podium, 'that Beetham Tower is visible from ten English counties on a clear day, and that it is exactly 168.87m tall and has 47 floors.'

I did know the second set of facts as it happened, but ten counties?

There was also the issue of Iain Dowie, ex-Oldham Athletic manager, looking right over my shoulder and telling me the Everton v Hull score.  

I counted them: Greater Manchester, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Merseyside. That's seven counties. I can't believe you can see it from Shropshire, and you definitely can't see it from Cumbria or South Yorkshire. Maybe they mean Flintshire or Denbighshire, but they're in Wales and not in England and that still only makes nine.

Of course I don't like to be a pedant - I bloody love it. 

Beetham Tower visible from lots of counties and Old Trafford


Beetham Tower visible from lots of counties and Old Trafford

Counting counties took my mind off the menu pricing system - plus the person I was with loves me reeling off administrative districts on my fingers. 

The pricing system is one course £17, two £22, three £27. Fair enough as long as you don't want a starter, but then the apparently logical system breaks down because you have to pay extra for sides, £3.95 a shot, and loads extra for anything from the grill, £12 more for a mixed grill for example.

So say you went for a starter, a mixed grill, a side and a dessert you'd not be paying the heavily promoted £27 at the top of the menu but £27+£3.95+£12. In other words £42.95. Wow. Oh and sauces are another £1.75, so that'd be £44.70. 

That wasn't the only problem at Podium.

There was also the issue of Iain Dowie, ex-Oldham Athletic manager, looking over my shoulder and telling me the Everton v Hull score.  

Podium - Too Much Bloody Screen

Podium - too much Iain Dowie

There's a projection as big as a house over the bar at Podium that dominates the restaurant. It's visible from eight English counties and one Welsh one. Strangely enough nobody was watching Iain Dowie and chums as they mouthed the football scores. It was on in the background, an irritant, people kept glancing up at it and forgetting to converse.

Running a restaurant where a meal for one without drinks costs up to £50 and putting a massive TV in the room is plain wrong. You don't go out for a TV dinner.

As for the food it was fine, not sing-it-from-the-rooftops but very good in places.

The butternut ravioli with sage cream and toasted pinenuts was lovely, good textures, cracking cream but not enough. There was only one ravioli - or should that be one raviolo. Mean. 

The trio of fish was decent too. Mackerel pate, smoked salmon, cream cheese, smoked haddock, with the latter the best, all delicate textures within strong flavours. 

Podium - Trio Of Fish, Duo Of SpoonsPodium - Trio Of Fish

The pan roasted cod with clam and mussel broth, kale and Parmentier potatoes promised so much but the cod had been overdone and that overshadowed the evident talent in the clam and mussel broth. In fact the dish was chaotic rather than cohesive with too much going on. If the cod had flaked as it should then that might not have been underlined.

The steak was best, cooked medium rare as requested, chips excellent, onion rings just as good, great Bearnaise sauce. Nothing wrong with this but also nothing particularly special. Then again a properly timed steak is a properly timed steak and a comfort in a cold world.

Podium - Steak WinnerPodium - Steak Winner

The stuffed apple with almond crust and lemon curd was a clumsy dish. The almond crust looking like termites had built a nest on the apple, although when the apple was reached it was beautiful. The lemon curd was odd and didn't fit the dish.

Wine, Aussie Chardonnay and a Rioja, brightened the meal, but there was a strange lifelessness to the whole experience. The room doesn't help with this. I like the design from a  purist point of view, very sharp, very Modernist, but the scale of the space overwhelms any atmosphere that might build. Maybe that's why Iain Dowie and his big face had been invited along.

Restaurant, bar and big projection


Restaurant, bar and big projection

When David Gale was chef at Deansgate Hilton a year or so ago, the menu had flair, it made going for dinner an occasion, not any more. I feel the present chef could be so much better, you can tell there's real quality there, but he needs to be unleashed and that bloody massive projection should be re-positioned urgently.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+ 

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commerical relationship.

Podium, Deansgate Hilton, 303 Deansgate, M3 4LQ. 0161 870 1600

Rating: 12.5/20

Food: 7/10 (ravioli 7.5, trio of fish 7, cod 6.5, steak 7.5, stuffed apple 6.5)
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 2/5

PLEASE NOTE: 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, 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

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

AnonymousDecember 8th 2014.

Nicely written. Are the chips with the steak in a plastic cup!?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AVODecember 8th 2014.

It's a ceramic cup made to look like a plastic cup. The fact that it's semi crumpled makes it so drainpipe pant achingly edgy whilst ensuring less chips can fit in.

JimDecember 8th 2014.

I did one of those deals at podium where you got a half bottle of wine and three courses for I think £29. It was very good. I wouldn't want to pay £50+ though as I don't see the restaurant as being in that price bracket.

JimDecember 8th 2014.

On the counties you can see it from Manchester Cheshire Staffordshire Lancashire Mersyside South Yorkshire West Yorkshire Yorkshire Derbyshire That's only nine so you must be able to see it from Shropshire which I do find a bit unlikely.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
JimDecember 8th 2014.

Apologies for the lack of commas. I listed them on individual lines :-(

ViewfinderDecember 9th 2014.

You can't see Beetham from South Yorks, the Derbyshire and West Yorks hills are in the way

grangeDecember 9th 2014.

you double counted yorkshire Jim or missed out (north) yorkshire

food for thoughtDecember 8th 2014.

Tomatoes with steak aren't even cooked?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
ThomasDecember 9th 2014.

My thoughts exactly

AnonymousDecember 10th 2014.

Plain wrong.

AnonymousDecember 9th 2014.

I have eaten at Podium several times (usually on business), and always had poor food, awful service and far too expensive for what it is. In fact I just find the whole Hilton hotel lacking in every department except the views. Did you know you can see 10 counties on a clear day from Cloud 23?

1 Response: Reply To This...
food for thoughtDecember 9th 2014.

No I didnt

David CarneyDecember 9th 2014.

Not been there so going on the review and the photos, but for £50 I could have a very good meal for two with drinks at several restaurants in Macclesfield and without the very Chavvy large screen TV ... what are they on!!!?? a big screen TV in a fancy location restaurant ... and chips in a novelty "chip holder" Style (or lack of) over substance! I thought of going but I definitely will not bother now! I will stick with The Salt Bar in Macclesfield - most excellent!

SteamyDecember 9th 2014.

Been once, never again. Worst cheeseboard experience I have ever had including some mouldy cheddar and a tub of branston pickle masquerading as 'artisan pickle' Many, many better places to go.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 9th 2014.

'Worst cheeseboard experience I have ever had'? First world problems much?

AnonymousDecember 9th 2014.

Yeah, fancy someone commenting on the quality of food at a restaurant on a review of that restaurant, eh Anon!

AnonymousDecember 9th 2014.

Been ONCE and as with so many places ONCE is enough.....Also in that building do I want to eat on the GROUND floor?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 16th 2015.

Well you could have a personal invitation to join me and my may on the 32 floor.

Iain MacleodDecember 10th 2014.

OK, my guess at the 10 counties... Lancashire Cheshire Cumberland Westmoreland Yorkshire Flintshire Denbighshire Staffordshire Shropshire Isle of Man Based on county-wise.org.uk/…/… Would need to be a bloody clear day, mind...

Andy JonesDecember 10th 2014.

Don't want to be a pedant either, but "Clwyd" hasn't existed for nearly 20 years...

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldDecember 10th 2014.

I love pedantry

Calum McGJanuary 17th 2015.

You mean pendantry.

December 10th 2014.

I've been once and found the food mediocre, extremely small portions and overpriced. So many much better restaurants in our lovely city.

AnonymousDecember 10th 2014.

Let me know when we have a 'clear' day?

1 Response: Reply To This...
SAZKDecember 19th 2014.


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