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Fancy a bit of French, dearie?

There is a restaurant in our Manchester midst that has the best front of house man in the business. It’s called The French and it’s older than Gordo.

Written by . Published on July 24th 2006.


Fancy a bit of French, dearie?

There is a restaurant in our Manchester midst that has the best front of house man in the business.

A chef who can still deliver a classic like Chateaubriand for two in perfect condition, carved at your table, fresh asparagus as fat as Gordo’s fingers and puddings that are worth putting up with twenty four hours of crushing guilt. Where the music is live, but background. The décor competes with Le Bristol’s dining room in Paris or The Ritz in London. It’s a place for special occasions which doesn’t let you down.

It’s called The French and it’s older than Gordo. Situated in The Midland Hotel, a grand dame, it was owned by British Transport Hotels for many years, latterly the Holiday Inn team who ruined it and is now in the ownership of QHotels who have recently started buying the old girl new outfits, £15 million quid’s worth in fact. It’s an ongoing project, but they have completely refurbished the French and it’s a testament to good taste that they haven’t changed a thing.

Bruno Lucchi is the Gaffer. An old fashioned Maitre D’ of awesome memory and immaculate, impeccabe presence. Bruno has been here since the Lord knows when. When Gordo was a lad he would be brought here by his parents, probably around the age of thirteen or fourteen. It was a bit of an upgrade from Berni Inns, Gordo’s dad Shady had hit the big time along with giving up putting the business on trap six over at Belle Vue dog track every Wednesday night. Subsequently a teenage Gordo with rampant hormones had developed a taste for crepes suzette along with the girls at Mount Carmel in Alderley Edge. Both seemed a good deal more interesting than Black Forest Gateaux and plane spotting.

The menu is a mix of old fashioned (the rather fab chateaubriand that was carved at the table £59.95 for two people) and the new (dainty scallops sat on tiny cushions of pureed cauliflower and fennel £14.95). The kitchen demonstrates skill in both the look and feel of the menu, as well as the delivery. Clearly not worried about recreating classic dishes the chef also flexes his muscles with the modern, such as Breast of Goosnargh Duck with Confit Leg, Pickled Red Cabbage, Fondant Potato (£22.95). Helen ‘Rambo’ Ramsbottom was the plus one for the evening, she couldn’t get enough of the Chateaubriand. This girl can eat. She should join the England eating team. Bloody hell. A béarnaise sauce of great quality accompanied the dish, as did a delightfully sharp shallot gravy. Lots of baby vegetables, all cooked al dente along with corking mushrooms. Could have done with a few fried onion rings just for nostalgia, mind, eh Bruno?

On one poor note, neither Gordo nor Rambo liked her Pan Roasted Red Mullet with a Tomato Tart. Didn’t quite work, we are afraid to report. Onwards and upwards.

Other dishes that looked great on the plate were the ‘Guinea Fowl Au Vin’ with Mash, Pancetta, Shallots and Forest Mushrooms (£19.95) along with the Roasted Fillet of Brill, Braised Oxtails and Morel Sauce (£22.95).

The bloke next door to Gordo’s table wasn’t shy, he wasn’t there for the food. Neither was his wife (unlikely) / mistress (more likely). They were eating each other for two hours flat. This feller must have had some stamina.

Gordo has a confession to make. Neither he nor Rambo could eat a pudding. But they looked fantastic sat in front of the Eyes Wide Shut couple. Particularly the ‘Tutti Fruity’ Baked Alaska. All puddings are £7.50.

We did have cheese. Manchester’s top tier restaurants are getting good with their cheese trolleys, Bruno has never been a slouch with his. If you were to ask Gordo the question, what is the best cheese you have had in Manchester? It’s the Blengdale Blue from The Cumberland Dairy who had a joint collaboration with Butlers, of Blackstick Blue fame. The Butlers’ team must feel like they have shot themselves in the foot, Blengdale blows it out of the water.

There is a ‘Gastronomique’ Menu with two courses at £22.00, three £29.00 and four £38.00; it is available Tuesdays to Thursdays and changes every couple of weeks.

The wine list is possibly the best in town for French. Sensibly there are many priced between £16 to £30. But look out for a well chosen range of burgundy, along with a Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron, 1995, looks value at £59.00. The other interesting area are pudding wines, Coutet and Rayne Vigneau are represented in three different vintages and no less than 17 half bottles across the range. Full marks.

The service is faultless and the best in town. The food isn’t far behind. We can see why the Chef, Paul Beckley, has retained the two AA rosettes.

A Gordo Go

Gordo.
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16.75/20

The French Restaurant
The Midland
Peter Street
Manchester
M60 2DS

Tel: 0161 236 3333
Fax: 0161 932 4100

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