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The Living Room Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield is mainly impressed but cheesed off too

Written by . Published on February 12th 2013.

The Living Room Reviewed

THE Living Room opened in 1999 and became the Deansgate monster. It sucked in the suited, booted and mini-skirted and fed them, cocktailed them and left them wanting more.

The burger was very good, providing interest with its pork and chorizo combination spiced up with aioli and with feisty chips.

It seemed full every day and every night, a glitzy counterpoint to the more earthly pleasures of Wetherspoons' Moon Under Water pub almost next door. The prices reflected this, a round for four in the latter probably cost less than a cocktail in The Living Room. Still does, no doubt.

Changes of ownership, sale of the company, changes of direction and the spreading of the city centre drinking scene to terra incognitas such as Spinningfields, meant The Living Room suffered.

The Living Room menuThe Living Room menu

It was never my sort of place, but one could admire its clever tapping into the spirit of the times even though you might object to skeletal models charging towards you on widescreen TVs above the bar. For many Mancunians it seemed to embody some dream of what an A-lister bar might feel like in Miami - but on Deansgate instead.

I don't think I ate there back then. Or if I did I can't remember the occasions very much.

A recent visit showed the food can be enjoyable. Although it can also have lapses. 

The worst of the latter came with a really pathetic stab at a cheese board. This cost £8.50 and seemed to have reverse priorities with much being made in the menu description of figs, grapes, celery and biscuits.

Mostly cheddarMostly cheddar

For me it should all be about the cheese, I really couldn't give a fig about the rest. Our cheese came via a waiter who wasn't sure what type of blue cheese he'd brought us but worse, announced the other two slices of cheese were cheddar, both of them. If variety is the spice of life then that was a poor show. 

Other elements of the meal were good, especially the three mains. These were the pan fried monkfish (£18) with parsley fishcake and a chervil, pea cream and tomato dressing; the trio of pork (£14) pancetta wrapped pork fillet, crispy pork belly and Bury black pudding with a sage and garlic mash and apple sauce; and the pork and chorizo brioche burger (£10.25) with a smoked paprika aioli with chips.

Trio of porkTrio of pork

The monkfish (main picture above) was cooked correctly, it's so easy to rubberise the thing by overcooking, and the fishcake was nicely constructed. It didn't surprise but with the dressing and the simple qualities of good monkfish it was rewarding.

The burger was very good, providing interest with its pork and chorizo combination spiced up with aioli and with feisty chips. This is a good version of the classic British 'grill' restaurant burger, but still really needs to let its hair down in the way Northern Quarter burgers do. They need to add some elements, make it messier, filthier.

Good burgerGood burger

The best dish of all would have been the trio of pork if it hadn't been a smidgin overcooked with the fillet and the pork belly, making them edge to toughness. But the sage and garlic mash was excellent as was the black pudding.

The mains were far and away the best feature of the meal. A starter of Moroccan spiced houmous with toasted ciabatta (3.50) was okay, as was a veggie starter of butternut squash, dolcelatte, walnut and honey with a bit too much plate dribbling going on. A dessert of baked raspberry ripple cheesecake (£4.75) was non-descript, hard to recall.

Partially eaten cheesecake

Partially eaten cheesecake

Overall The Living Room did a job.

The irksome elements, such as that poor cheese choice, need to be ironed out, and the kitchen needs to be careful in its timings. Desserts such as the cheesecake need to be repeatedly tasted so the sweet and sour character is balanced. All of this can be quickly corrected. In the end it's about paying attention. The extremely capable restaurant manager seems more than capable of turning those parts around.

In a crowded market for this type of menu that needs to be done speedily.

(Apologies for the pictures, I was accompanying the wrong camera.)

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield 


Living Room, 

80 Deansgate, City, M3 2ER. 0

161 832 0083


Rating: 13/20 (Remember venues are rated against the best examples of their kind so check out the box below)

Food: 6.5/10 (hoummous 6, tart 7, monkfish 7, pork 7, pork and chorizo burger 7, cheesecake 6, cheese selection 5)
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 3/5

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, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

Veggie tart starterVeggie tart starter

Good monkfishGood monkfish

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

Drew SmithFebruary 12th 2013.

wrong camera?????

SteFebruary 12th 2013.

Little wrong with those photos Jon, most food bloggers seem to use iPhones.

Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 12th 2013.

Ste...er...I ain't a blogger, I'm a professional writer. Big difference.

Simon TurnerFebruary 12th 2013.

^^^^Jonathan, how big a difference?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 13th 2013.

Oh you know Simon, it's the difference between an amateur and pro footballer. It's the latter's job, they get paid for it, they depend on that money, they are generally more experienced, they usually have a bigger audience and are generally better. Of course some 'bloggers' are very good but most.....well.

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

That veggie tart starter looks gooooood

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

Mmmm, lovely!!!

Karen HollandFebruary 13th 2013.

Love Monkfish!

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

Ha! Get Jonathan being all precious about his 'professional' status...Ralph Milne was a professional footballer. He was shit. Just saying.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 13th 2013.

You're right in a way Anon - it would have been nice to know your name by the way since you're talking to me directly. Tut tut. Anyway there are good bloggers but most are rubbish. You're not a writer until you've been paid for it. Ralph Milne was not good enough for United, but he was better than the amateurs.

IanFebruary 15th 2013.

Writing about food on a plate is hardly difficult

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