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MC Restaurant at Abode

Gordo does a proper review of the latest brave new hope of Manchester dining, apologises to the world and restaurant name drops

Written by . Published on May 8th 2008.

MC Restaurant at Abode

The well known social dyslexic champagne botherer, Stephen Lundy, is a good pal of Gordo's. Every now and again he calls him to let him know about his culinary experiences. Indeed, Gordo got a phone call a few weeks back.

Vinnie's Best end of Herdwick lamb, onion and thyme purée, fondant potato (grovel at Ian Matfin's feet) and tapenade jus (£20) is enough to make a man who once stood shoulder to shoulder with Gordo in an Hungarian railway siding at ten minutes to midnight twenty years ago weep

“Eh, Gordo, went to that new Michael Caines restaurant in Abode last night” says Looney Tunes. “They didn't do chips. I asked for them with my duck”. Gordo is wondering why he was frying his brain listening to this startling revelation. “The feller told me it was a fine dining restaurant. So I said, well, the chips will be fucking fine then won't they?”.

So, not only only does the renowned two star Michelin chef Michael Caines have to put up with losing one arm in a car accident, the poor bugger has to deal with Mancunian mentalists to boot.

On top of that Michael witnessed the wonderful world of Gordo, on the end of one of his long lunches. A seven hour hour, eleven bottles of Albariño lunch at Grado in fact. Apparently, when Gordo arrived at the Abode Hotel launch party at 7.30pm, he had turned into Vlad the Impaler's slobbering younger brother. By all accounts, Mr. Caines stopped security from taking Gordo round the back of the dustbins to give him a good kicking.

So Michael, welcome to Manchester.

We are a lively lot. And what have you brought us? A refurbished hotel for a kick off, with a good café bar that works well - try the cauliflower soup. Gordo has five times, it beats the pants off crystal meth. Everyone has been complimentary so far. Emma-Jean Sturgess, who Gordo has been lusting after ever she went off to do a cookery course has a sensible reservation, but that's a small one. Not enough texture.

Downstairs, Michael Caines at Abode, with Michael's right hand man from Gidleigh Park, Ian Matfin, at the helm is in a much brighter basement than back in the seemingly coke-fuelled days of the previous management. It looks and feels chilled and smart.

It's all galaxy chocolate bars down there, brown, smooth and very cool. Some very minimalist foliage which tugs you gently on the arm and whispers good taste. Very comfortable bar area where you can have anything from a well chosen chilled Fino sherry to a lips tingling Mojito. From the great photographs on the wall to the super wicked Italian low slung armchairs the bar and restaurant is very impressive.

Tables are wide apart with plenty of space. Along one wall we have a grazing area where us punters can 'graze' on cut down portions off the good looking menu, with a glass of champagne, or indeed small glasses of wine chosen to go with each course by the fabulous sommelier Krisztian Fabien, who knows a thing or two. You can do that with the full a la carte as well if you ask him nicely.

On the third visit Gordo found a fabulous German Riesling, Fusion '06 at £31.75 which suited well. A whinge, the better wines, such as great Grand Cru Chablis and Bordeaux are too young, Gordo has some great Grenouilles 2002 which he still considers a bit green. Why are we offering the equivalent 2005 for sale Krisztian? Naughty, when you have the proper stuff on the list down in the mother ship at Gidleigh Park. This is one of a very few niggles. The front of house staff are fantastic. Damien Brierley was master of the ship on the third night, Melinda Kovsos, from Hungary, outstanding. The staff training here is brilliant.

Terrine of foie gras, pickled rhubarb (£13.50) has been so good that Gordo would have had it straight out of the fridge the day after being cooked down, with a huge smile on his face, nothing but grilled pain de compaigne and fresh Normandy butter as a frill.

Sprinkling of rock salt maybe. Lobster tortellini, Bouillabaisse consommé (£15.50) has defied gravity on Gordo's taste buds, better than a feather in Madame Jo Jo's brothel on the Avenue Montaigne twenty years ago.

On the most recent occasion, with the import/export magnate and thirty year pal of Gordo, Vinnie, the pan fried scallops, caramelised cauliflower purée, sweet raisin vinaigrette and cauliflower and cumin velouté (£14.50) was a wonderful bit of white magic on a plate.

Marvel at that vinaigrette. Gordo has never come across this anywhere in the world. Boudin of chicken mousse, wild mushrooms, asparagus and white wine and morel sauce (£8.95) was a bit of a sidekick in comparison. Did Gordo mention the tiny, crispy, cauliflower florets in the scallops? Maybe not.

Honey roast Goosnargh duckling, apple galette, garlic confit and Chinese five spice sauce (£18) was a honey indeed, the duck could be cut with a spoon. Gordo would be interested to see a more conservative sauce. But a dish cooked to a technical purity worthy of La Tour d'Argent in Paris, opposite the Notre Dame - arguably the finest duck restaurant in the world, sadly relegated by a snotty, headline grabbing Michelin guide from a three star to a one star simply because it has refused to change it's one century old dishes.

Vinnie's Best end of Herdwick lamb, onion and thyme purée, fondant potato (grovel at Ian Matfin's feet) and tapenade jus (£20) is enough to make a man who once stood shoulder to shoulder with Gordo in an Hungarian railway siding at ten minutes to midnight twenty years ago weep.

There is a new pastry chef. Ashley Smith. Gordo was heart broken at the news that the astonishing predecessor was a victim of Ian Matfin's regime. Good? She was fab. Ashley Smith was about to get a kicking off Gordo. Until he tasted the glazed lemon tart, sable biscuit, confit of lemon zest (£8.50). It was the best pudding since Michel Guerard, Les Prés d'Eugenie, in the South West of France in 1991.

These were a series of dinners which rate as the best Gordo has experienced in the North West. With the exception of Paul Kitching at Juniper, Simon Rogan at L'Enclume and Simon Radley at The Arkle. These guys all hold a Michelin star. Will Michael and Ian get one? Gordo really doesn't give a damn as long as the food keeps arriving on this level.

What will hinder is the bread offering which has been changeable (burnt once, astonishing once, a bit light last night) and a pat of butter which wasn't cold enough. Wow. Maybe Gordo should get a proper job. What will get the star, are a kitchen brigade who are as taut as a Stradivarius and a front of house team who could charm ogres with foot blisters. And Gordo, who had stabbed himself with a boning knife the previous evening.

Breakdown:9/10 Food
5/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: MC Restaurant
Abode Hotel
107 Piccadilly
0161 247 7744

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

AnonymousMay 8th 2008.

Think I must have gone to a different restaurant to the one reviewed... I was distinctly unimpressed: No front of house member of staff was evident to meet 'n' greet us on entering the place - so had to hang around wondering where to go; The atmosphere was flat; the service sub-standard; and all the food I ordered was covered in pretentious 'foam'(resembling snotty spit)... what's the point in ('fashionable')'foam' when sauce does the job without looking unappetising?! Just couldn't get excited about the food at all -'fine' is how I'd deem it and expensive too. I don't mind forking out for good food, but I begrudge it for okay food and a lacklustre experience on the whole. The only thing good about the place were the cocktails - go for a couple of those.

AnonymousMay 8th 2008.

Never one to under-egg the pudding as always! I didn't swear but I did get the chips, which very good but not as nice as RBG. Lastly, as you know I didn't order duck, you couldn't pay enough money to eat duck.

Burt CodeineMay 8th 2008.

"A seven hour hour, eleven bottles of Albariño lunch at Grado in fact."My first typo...do I win a chip?Definitely looking forward to a visit now...when the next birthday arrives that is.

GordoMay 8th 2008.

Thats a Boudin of Chicken Drake me old son. Bit small for a horses.... I guess it's what you are used too ;-)

GordoMay 8th 2008.


DrakeMay 8th 2008.

Nice enough (though nowhere near as good as Gordo thinks it is), but what about that service charge. 11% already on the bill and then they ask for more...on the photos what is that dish that looks like horse's cock with asparagus? Most unappetising. Unless one likes horse's cock I suppose.

AnonymousMay 8th 2008.

Sounds like the food was wonderful - we stayed there a couple of weeks ago and were disappointed with the hotel side of things (indiscrete staff, poorly designed rooms). Might give the grub a go though...

AnonymousMay 8th 2008.

Blimey ....come back Gastros . Seven hour lunches!!!!!!!!!

chandley1976May 8th 2008.

Finally, a REAL fine finding restaurant in Manchester! Its about time really to be honest.Without a doubt, this is the best in Manchester, in terms of service and food, and a Michelin star really sould be on its way to town come 2010.Ive got to say though, that the wine list isnt quite on a par with the food, but again, I sense that this will come in time, as its all about suiting your market. Its hardly bad though, and something to suit most peoples taste and budget.Excellent stuff, and I sense that this place will be around for a long time, unlike other attempts such as Le Mont and Establishment, as it can fall back on its bar/club custom, aswell as being in a hotel, which means that bookings should come thick and fast. Some people dont like restuarants in hotels, but the fact is that when businessmen are staying in a hotel, they invariably eat there since the company will be paying, so it doesnt matter if the meal is a little pricy! Always a winner really.

NeilMay 8th 2008.

abode 18/05/08 : food very good, service quite poor- wrong courses brought at the wrong time, no cutlery, pouring own wine/ drinks, 3.5 hrs for six courses, generally inattentive service. Need i go on? Great food let down by poor service. Not good enough for a star for sure- unfortunately

PaulMay 8th 2008.

Just got back from my jollies while away i poped in at Joel Robuchons gaf in the MGM vagas i had the six course tasting menu but i recon i would have still been there if i had gone for the sixteen course one no wonder all them yanks are porkers and no 11% as i can Remember cheeck this out if your a bit peckish next time your in vegasSixteen course tasting menu: $385/personL’Avocatdans une infusion juste prise aux herbes et une caillebotte à l’huile d’oliveAvocado purée in a thin herb gelée and olive oil flavored curd cheese Le Caviar petit œuf mollet et friand, flan mœlleux au fumet d’asperges, fines graines de couscous iodéCrispy soft boiled egg, flan of asparagus, thin couscous and oscetra caviar L’Ormeaudans un court bouillon aux jeunes poireaux et gingembreAbalone, baby leeks in a ginger bouillon Les Crustacésla langoustine truffée à l’étuvée de chou vert, le homard rôti à la citronnelle avec une semoule végétale, l’oursin accompagné d’une purée de pomme de terre au caféTruffled langoustine ravioli with chopped cabbage, lemon grass roasted lobster with vegetable semolina, sea urchin, potato purée with a hint of coffee La Saint-Jacquesla noix poêlée aux fregolas avec une émulsion corallinePan seared scallops with fregolas pastas and her emulsion L’Avoineveloutée aux amandes torréfiées et aux sucs de chorizoWild-oat velouté with roasted almonds and chorizo Le Barcuit en peau aux cinq épices, avec une sauce au verjusPan-fried sea bass with the skin and five spices, served with verjus sauce Le Turbotcuit sur l’arête avec une étuvée de châtaigne et céleri au jus truffléRoasted turbot “on the bone” with celery and truffle stew Le Bœuf de Kobégrillé, cristalline au poivre, cresson en tempura, raifort à la moutardeGrilled Kobe beef, watercress tempura, horseradish mustard L’Epeautredu pays de Sault mitonné et doré à l’or finSault farrow prepared risotto style, gold leaf La Poire Williamglacée aux saveurs fruitées et confite à la crème de CassisWilliam pear on a sorbet and confit in black currant Le Chocolatcoulant à l’Araguani, sorbet mentholéMelting Araguani chocolate with a hint of peppermint Le Café ou le Théescorté de mignardises

TomMay 8th 2008.

I ate there last weekend and i am in agreement, I was hugey impressed with whole experience and was definitely the best meal I have ever eaten in Manchester. The only minor issues I had was with the Riesling which we tried as part of the grazing menu of wines and of which I was generally underwhelmed, but I often am with non Alsace Riesling, the Verdichio was excellent though.The Tuna Tartare was excellent and very fresh, as was the smoked Eel, which had just enough smoke flavour to provide the taste without the eel beoming dry. The grazing menu is a great option and the portions there-in were really good (I was worried that they would be a one spoon wonder!) and I felt that given that standard of the food, it was very fairly priced.The staff were also thoughtful and well trained, we had a few issues with the bill but they sorted it quickly and with no fuss.Overall I really enjoyed the whole experience and will defintely be returning to Manchester's new no.1 if the standards remain unchanged!

anonMay 8th 2008.

Ha ha - it looks like it's covered in gentlemen's relish too!

AnonymousMay 8th 2008.

A non Alsace Reisling! what kind of place is this? Tom, I can't believe you didn't storm out in disgust!

JanieBMay 8th 2008.

I ate here a couple of weeks ago and altough I agree the food was superb there was something missing. No veg! I needed a magnifying glass to find the veg served with the main course and there was no side order option I could see. How can you have fine dining with no veg? I won't be going back until I hear they have got some, or I'll bring my own.

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