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Linen's New Spring Menu

We photograph (then devour) their new dishes – feast your eyes on this

Published on April 22nd 2013.


Linen's New Spring Menu

IT came shockingly late and we're still not sure whether it's sticking around. Either way, Spring is here, and with it comes peppy new menus to replace the filling fare of winter.

Linen's Spring A La Carte Menu is a fine example of food designed for the season: lighter dishes made with the year's first, just-picked crops: asparagus, spring onions, and baby carrot, alongside spring lamb and mackerel which are coming into their prime.

It's the handiwork of their head chef, Jarda, who learned his trade at the Michelin-starred Radisson Alcron Hotel in Prague then became head chef at the Manchester Malmaison.

We'd eaten at Linen a few years ago and liked it, but this was something else. Delicate, precise flavours, beautiful presentation, and carefully considered combinations. It showed how far Jarda has taken this restaurant since he arrived last June.

Here's what we were served, in pictures and in prose.

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Porn Star Martini and Zombie

Linen served us their two cocktail bestsellers. The Porn Star Martini was a perfect blend:  sharp yet smooth thanks to the balance of citrus with golden butterscotch. The Zombie was a fruitier option: strong, sweet and burning with a blue flame. The only thing missing was a skull-shaped tanker, and for that we were thankful.

With the meal, we drank the house white, a fresh, crisp Viognier, and the White Zinfandel Rose – refreshing and sweet without being cloying. The Viognier in particular stood out, particularly for a house wine.

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Hot smoked mackerel

The Morecambe Bay mackerel gave us one of those eye-opening moments that make you wonder at the taste-gap between jaded supermarket fish, and fresh, locally-sourced produce. It was served with a tricolour of beetroot – white, pink and purple, and a light mackerel mousse. A beautiful, well-balanced salad that sung with flavour.

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Sauteed pigeon breast

Someone needs to tell the pigeons in Albert Square that they're supposed to be seasonal. This little bird was definitely raised in pleasanter surroundings – it was glistening and succulent, and thoughtfully paired with a beetroot hummous and tender pea shoots.

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Buttered green asparagus

These asparagus out-sized any we'd seen from the UK or the Continent. A word with the waiter revealed that the unusually late snowfall in Cheshire meant they'd had to source them from Mexico. (English asparagus will be arriving on your plates at Linen very soon.) This dish was a highlight: subtle flavours set off by a tangy truffle dressing, and beautiful colours when the yellow egg yolk trickled over the green spears.

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Trio of Cumbrian lamb

We thought this dish would overwhelm us with its three forms of lamb, plus mash and vegetables. In fact, it was restrained, artfully-presented and in keeping with the lighter feel of the rest of the menu. The lamb cutlet was tiny but tasty, the Cumbrian sausage a slim, lightly spiced chipolata, and the lamb confit rich and satisfying. No stodge in sight.

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 Spring greens and blacksticks blue cheese risotto

This was the most robust of the mains thanks to the blacksticks blue. Its heavy-weight flavours, combined with walnuts, peas and broad beans made for a powerful, filling dish. It was topped off by a free-standing parmesan cheese crisp. A satisfying option for hungry diners.

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Seared fillet of swordfish

This demonstrated how a talented chef can transform a handful of simple ingredients into something special. The mash of spring peas and broad beans doesn't sound particularly thrilling but it was superb – caramelly and moreish, we spooned it up like ice-cream. The seared swordfish steak was another star. Low-carb dieters will like this option. It looked and felt healthy, and tasted anything but.

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Iced white chocolate and pistachio parfait

A giant white chocolate truffle rolled in smashed up pistachio. We ate a lot more of this than we intended to. It was silky and creamy with hints of vanilla. Hard to leave alone. The accompaniments combined to create an exciting mix of tastes; a slither of bitter dark chocolate, a treacly brandy snap, mint leaves, and cherries soaked in brandy.

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Blood orange sherbet cheesecake

The tartness of blood orange within a mellow dish like cheesecake? The kitchen pulled this off by reducing the orange to a thin layer of sweet jelly. Again, the detail in the accompaniments took this dessert from good to very good: a smooth puree of peach, and a handful of sharp red currents to keep your taste-buds on their toes.

Linen is in Manchester235 in the Great Northern. To book a table call 0161 828 0345. To find out more visit our Linen pages.

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