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63 Degrees Restaurant Reviewed

Ruth Allan loves the Gallic flavour of the Northern Quarter

Written by . Published on July 22nd 2014.


63 Degrees Restaurant Reviewed
 

THE likes of 63 Degrees, Aumbry and Rose Garden are among the few upmarket, independent restaurants that have made Manchester their home.

More of a column than a breast, it looks nothing like chicken and I can’t stop thinking about it – or the puff potato for that matter. Superb. 

Of course they aren't cheap but they deliver the goods and the food sticks in the mind. I’ve spent the last week thinking about the meal at 63 Degrees.

The low-level lighting is marvellous with lampshades blossoming like bouganvilla over the restaurant walls and swinging low over tables. There are 70 covers, or thereabouts, and the space forms the base of the Light ApartHotel, where it’s rumoured that Simon Cowell insists on staying when he’s in town.

Chocolate walls shimmer, MOR music plays and there’s no stress emanating from the open kitchen. All is well at 63 Degrees.

63 Degrees63 Degrees

This is family run concern. The family in question is French, called Moreau and dad Eric is often in the kitchen while his son and restaurant founder, Alexandre Moreau, is busy setting up the family’s new patisserie, soon to open in Didsbury.

The front of house was a slightly over-friendly guy I recognised from 1847, the vegetarian restaurant down by Manchester Art Gallery. Nevertheless, 63 Degrees has a slick team serving fine dining classics, which have developed and matured since the restaurant opened in 2011.

The Guardian Weekend magazine’s food pages editor, Bob Granleese, gave it a scathing review back then, to much criticism from the Confidential editor, Jonathan Schofield. My meal this time suggested they’ve hit a comfortable plateau of excellence.

63 Degrees63 Degrees

As with the winelist of Picpoul (a summery bargain at £25), Pomerol (£46) and a pretty, Provencal rose (£28), the menu is elegantly moreish.

There’s a tomato gazpacho with goat’s cheese ice cream or basil sorbet (£8.50) to start, plus standards like foie gras terrine (£14.50) or minted pea cream with giant prawn and saffron (£9). Just when you think it’s too expensive, the plush ingredients seem to somehow justify the cost. 

Unfortunately, my gazpacho toppings (I try both) came in just the wrong side of sweet, although meaty hunks of cucumber contrast well with the sleek soup. Another starter, a line-caught sea bass tartare with Japanese yuzu fruit (£12) came up short on the flavour side of things, but there was no doubting its freshness.

Sea bass tartareSea bass tartare

Mains allowed Moreau to really got into his stride. House special is stuffed chicken cylinder and potato in puff pastry with truffle and cheese (£16.80). Like other French takes on potato (Dauphinoise, gratin, pomme frites etc), this bears zero resemblance to its vegetal origins.

The chicken is perfectionThe chicken is perfection

Nevertheless, a truffly memory is etched into my palate - and it was a match for the chicken too. Chef Moreau maintains that chicken poached at 63 degrees centigrade (hence the restaurant name) retains optimal taste and texture, and I can’t say he’s wrong. More of a column than a breast, mine looked nothing like chicken but I can’t stop thinking about it – or the puff potato for that matter. Superb. 

Rack of lamb, (a generous four ribs) with vegetable bayaldi and rosemary (£26) was well executed, not quite as striking as the chicken but very very good once more. Moreau knows how to control flavour and balance it with presentation to satisfy both the stomach and the eyes.

Rack of lambRack of lamb

Next time I might take a punt on the unusual duckling fillet, sauce vierge and pomegranate seeds (£18), or the shallot tatin with smoked tofu (£14.80), to see if the Asian influence comes up trumps this time. 

There are not a huge number desserts to choose from. Five, plus cheese at last count.

But the chocolate orb with red fruits (£7.50), which our waiter introduced as “a giant Malteaser” was easy on the eye and better in the eating.

The pink praline tart and macaroons sounded good too. Warm berry sauce melted the chocolate into a cartoon splat.

The whole thing reminded me of Aiden Byrne’s crazy prawn cocktail with it’s passion fruit sorbet dome at Manchester House, but everything worked, with flavours set off by a glass of berry-licious Mas Amiel grenache noir dessert wine. It was the only pairing recommendation we followed on the menu, but it was so well pitched I wish we’d tried them all.

Dessert at 63 DegreesDessert at 63 Degrees

This meal was my second visit in three years.

Back in 2012, I left the restaurant underwhelmed. But on this occasion the setting, cooking and wine melded joyfully with a clientele of smiling couples and graduates out with mum and dad.

There’s been a lack of French sugar in Manchester’s bloodstream since Aubaine closed, so it was great to see 63 Degrees getting things right. 

Follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthAllan

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. 

63 Degrees, 20 Church Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1PN. 0161 832 5438

Rating: 16/20

Food: 8/10 (Gazpacho 6.5, tartare 6.5, chicken 9, lamb 8.5, chocolate orb 8)
Service: 3.5/5 
Ambience: 4.5/5

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: we've got carried away

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

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2014.

Matthew Normans review was a miore accurate relfection

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoJuly 22nd 2014.

Having been four times since Norman, not a trusted critic for me, I completely disagree with you Anon. Norman was clearly looking to give someone a kicking that day, having been thrown on the train by his Editor, after the words "get off your arse out of London and get up to Manchester" were ringing in his ears. Norman was condescending, rude and flippant. I will put my reputation on anyone having a simply lovely evening all round here.

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2014.

*more - reflection

Alan WharrierJuly 22nd 2014.

I was turbed away for a table of 5 + 2 kids at 1:50pm on Friday afternoon saying they closed at 2pm. Even though the chalboard had an lunch offer on 12-3pm and the signage outside said they were open 12-2:30pm. I like the place but won't be going back!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
JimJuly 22nd 2014.

In fairness if they were closing at 2pm then I don't see what else they could do but turn you away. Even if they were closing at 2:30pm I don't see how you can expect to have finished your dining experience in 40 minutes!

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2014.

What nonsense. In fairness to the owner of 63 degrees I'm sure he expects anyone arriving before 2pm to be served and if they are there after 2.30 then thats the game and you have to let them finish. Just staff taking the mic

Alan WharrierJuly 23rd 2014.

I'm pretty sure that the times stated outside are serving times not allocated eating times.

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2014.

63 Degrees is without doubt one of the best dining experiences in Manchester. It has individuality and (mostly) great charm. The city would be worse off without it. Being a family restaurant there can be uneven service but the food is without fail exceptional.

JimJuly 22nd 2014.

I prefer 63 degrees to both "The French" and "Manchester House". The snails I had as a starter was one of the best dishes I have ever had. A great little restaurant that deserves to thrive.

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2014.

I was surprised when I read this review. Yuzu, gazpacho, pomegranate and tofu don't usually feature in French Cuisine.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
MaggieJuly 22nd 2014.

just arrived back from Nice having attended a wedding in Monaco - the first entree was Gazpacho with basil ice cream, just saying...........

AmauryJuly 23rd 2014.

Monaco is not France.

Mark GarnerJuly 23rd 2014.

Amoury, don't be so pedantic! its about even stevens with Italian. The new wave of French chefs over in Paris are mking full use of the worlds ingredients. Escoffier would have loved to get his hands on the likes of pomegranite for sure.

rinkydinkJuly 23rd 2014.

Well... they do now and Monaco isn't a million miles away from France is it? Stop splitting hairs

MaggieJuly 24th 2014.

Yes Amaury, what they said. I was posing when I said I'd been to a wedding in Monaco - the wedding was there but the reception meal etc was in Nice. The rest of the restaurants I ate at in Monaco over 5 days were equally all a fine mix of traditional French and innovative ingredients, fab!

mike_aJuly 22nd 2014.

Went to the other week to try out the tasting menu (think it's only on a Tuesday night) and was pleasantly surprised. The staff were attentive without being in your face and the food was delicious. Would definitely go back.

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2014.

Super. Never fails to impress, good food without pretension.

Paul CarterJuly 23rd 2014.

Went a couple of years ago and it was awful. Had overcooked, tasteless snails, a chicken that hadn't been done sous vide (despite advertising that it had) and was bland beyond belief, and a dessert I can no longer remember. My wife was also unimpressed with her meal. I vowed never to go back but kept my eye on the Good Food Guide in case it got listed (a sure sign then that it had upped its game). It has never made the Guide which begs the question what is it that gets you lot at Man Con so excited and uppity about this place? This restaurant really is your Achilles heel because most of your other reviews are generally spot on. Matthew Norman gave it a bad review because it's a bad restaurant. It has nothing to do with Manchester. I don't get it. This is not a great restaurant

1 Response: Reply To This...
ThebartenderDecember 10th 2014.

You are right it isn't "sous vide". It is cooked at 100 degrees in an oven until the center temperature(of the chicken) reaches 70 degrees. you will have it in front of you at 63-65 degrees (with rehydrated morels) Iam surprised manchester confidential food critics didn't pick that up. the giant prawns comes in frozen so does the frog's legs(when they have them on the menu) and the creme brule was out of a "Elle & Vire" cardboard box.

Paul CarterJuly 23rd 2014.

Went a couple of years ago and it was awful. Had overcooked, tasteless snails, a chicken that hadn't been done sous vide (despite advertising that it had) and was bland beyond belief, and a dessert I can no longer remember. My wife was also unimpressed with her meal. I vowed never to go back but kept my eye on the Good Food Guide in case it got listed (a sure sign then that it had upped its game). It has never made the Guide which begs the question what is it that gets you lot at Man Con so excited and uppity about this place? This restaurant really is your Achilles heel because most of your other reviews are generally spot on. Matthew Norman gave it a bad review because it's a bad restaurant. It has nothing to do with Manchester. I don't get it. This is not a great restaurant

1 Response: Reply To This...
Calum McGJuly 23rd 2014.

Hmm, I've eaten there twice, both times in the last year. Had great food and very pleasant service both times. Definitely going back.

TimetoshineJuly 23rd 2014.

I think its about time Manchester Confidential invested in a new camera.

AnonymousAugust 4th 2014.

63 degrees reviewed... what again? I don't get it, if it really is that good they wouldn't need to keep getting MC to advertise, sorry, review it.

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