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Lounge Ten review

Jonathan Schofield loves the lush little tart on Tib Lane

Written by . Published on September 24th 2010.


Lounge Ten review

There’s a lot of rubbish talked and written about Manchester restaurants and the quality of the food in our city.

I’ve been a food critic for ten years and I’ve been visiting the city’s dining spaces for more than twenty years, starting with a trip to the Market Restaurant in perhaps 1987.

Best of all, the pork was covered in an amazingly thick, lush, gooey, layer of fat that combined with the meat to make the whole a sensual pleasureland completely fitting for the rude decor all around.

Throughout that time people have been deriding the dining scene, especially the foodies, especially at the top-end. It’s a conceit of certain people to think that they live in the worst of times. This gives them something to have a good moan about but also displays their lack of perspective. Manchester foodies have this disease more than most.

Thing is, we’ve never been as bad as some have made out and at the moment we can be pretty damn good.

In the last month or so I’ve had excellent meals with excellent service in three venues which I wouldn’t swap for the world. Well maybe that’s going a bit far, but I can’t understand why given the quality of the trio, there isn’t a Michelin star in the city centre.

The hat-trick of heroes have been Michael Caines at Abode, The French at the Midland and last week, Lounge Ten.

Lounge Ten provided the best experience, because of its singularly charms. That restaurant is proper little Tib Lane tart.

Midweek there were about 20 covers in, providing a pleasant hubbub of chat. The service started off immaculate and remained so throughout.

In evidence all around was one of the secret ingredients of the restaurant: filth. This is a Lounge Ten speciality. The walls are covered in soft porn based on a Roman orgy. The whole interior is under-lit, the colour scheme comes in dominatrix shades of black and red. If you’ve not been, this restaurant does bordello chic better than any other place in the North West.

The filth climaxes in the private room on the top floor, where the soft porn goes hard, so to speak. Eating there means sharing the space with pastel painted characters also having the odd mouthful. The door handle on the inside is a massive, thick, veiny....well, let’s just say don’t take your Nan, especially if she thinks Hollyoaks is racy.

The food at the moment is cracking. I’m not sure I’ve come across head chef Rod Francis before, but he’s doing good work here.

There was only one failure out of our five dishes and that was, unusually, with a starter.

Unusual, because starters are often the most refined dishes on a menu. They are the sonnets of meals, perfectly formed, disciplined little numbers. Starters are where a chef can show his craft without worrying about filling us up.

The Toulouse sausages with green lentils, herbs and spices (£7.50) was the problem dish. The lentils over-ran the sausages like legions of Lilliputians over the body of Gulliver (indulge me folks, I’m re-reading Gulliver’s Travels). The sausages, whilst coarse textured as they should be, seemed shy in the flavour department as well.

But the rest played a blinder.

The other starter of goose and chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche and orange marmalade (£9) was a glorious mix of textures and flavours which gave the tastebuds a proper work out. It looked the part as well. A darling of a dish.

  The fillet steak came with a Parmesan crust and sauté potatoes tossed in chilli and garlic butter (£22). The meat was juicy, cooked medium rare as requested, with a lovely thick, robust crust of cheese. This little surprise was a really clever addition adding interest to the meat. The potatoes were exquisitely presented and prepared.

But the king of the meal was also perhaps the best plateful of food I’ve enjoyed in the North of England this year. This was the slow roasted pork belly with baby vegetables and ratte potatoes tossed in chilli and garlic (£22). I want to buy every meat-eating friend of mine this dish and I want all the evil people of the world to never get anywhere near it.

  The pork was covered in an amazingly thick, lush, gooey, layer of fat that combined with the meat to make the whole a sensual pleasureland completely fitting for the rude decor all around. The al dente baby vegetables were perfect. The long ratte potatoes were buttery beauties.

A shared dessert of mixed berries set in pink champagne fruit jelly with fruit sorbet and piped cream (£6.50) was attractive to look at and a delight to taste. Rob Francis has learned well the need to make food appeal to all the senses including sight.

  We drank a Sancerre Blanc (£26.50), sunny and sharp, and a couple of glasses of rich sweet Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (£5.95 for two glasses). The latter rounded off what had been an outstanding meal.

What I fail to understand is why nobody has ever copied the Lounge Ten formula? It’s beyond me why this combination of subtle, and not so subtle, decor and fine food has not been emulated across the region. Certainly I’d love to see more of these types of intimate restaurants with a cosy cap of 50 covers.

  Lounge Ten is a winner. Still.

And it’s unique. Still.

It also proves that those who criticise the Manchester dining scene for being uninspiring are plain wrong.

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: Gordo gets carried away

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

JJune 30th 2009.

Abit rectangle in shape then?

scoteeeJune 30th 2009.

Nutloaf Ms G,he's a veggie!

scoteeeJune 30th 2009.

I went to lounge ten for the second time this year but for lunch this time.I had a goat’s cheese soufflé with a creamy almond sauce, then a fillet steak with a foi gras crust and that was wonderful. A pricey treat at lunch time but Lounge ten along with Gaucho’s steak is my favourite and I’m pleased they finally got some exposure of late. This is the kind of quality that the late Blanc's failed to achieve and with just 50 covers, also asks questions of Paul Hitchin,(Juniper) who turned down the prospect of running a similar sized venue for his new project due to the prices he would need to charge to make a profit. Well done Lounge Ten, you lead from the front where others should quickly learn to follow…

EJune 30th 2009.

I have went to Lounge Ten few months ago for dinner. I loved the atmosphere. Both the food and service was great! It was a week night, so there was only our table and another couple. So just two tables. It was great. Though I have to say, after what Jonathan has mentioned, I would love to see the VIP room. Anyone know how's to book it or the cost of it?

emma graceJune 30th 2009.

Phil Yates aka Meatloaf

Tanya PorterJune 30th 2009.

Well that's a good way to start the day Avo. I've seen the one in the private room in Lounge Ten and if yours is as big as that I'm impressed.

red inkJune 30th 2009.

someone needs to teach your photographer how to use light and flash photography you lot, those pictures don't do the food much service

GordoJune 30th 2009.

I think the irrascable Phil Yates, not your obvious fine dining man, should be given an award for ensuring the ongoing high quality of this venue, must be over ten years now. Phil's lock-ins are also legendary. Blimey.

I do believeJune 30th 2009.

I do believe that sausage is a potato

mattymooJune 30th 2009.

Went a year or two ago. Food good but was seated in bad table and crooners speaker was deafening. I repeatedly asked to have it turned down. The waiting staff made a half attempt but didn't really bother. Far too busy being "attentive." I was annoyed as we could not even talk and eventually just hurried and left. I wrote a letter to complain and never received a reply. I think that is unforgivable. So stick it up your flirty tarty arsey.

GordoJune 30th 2009.

SS, yes he does, which is why i love him...

AnonymousJune 30th 2009.

£30 (with wine) for roast pork belly seems pushing it a bit to me. ( you need a big glass)

AvoJune 30th 2009.

Sorry Anon. I try and get it where I can.

secret squirrelJune 30th 2009.

The trouble with Lounge Ten is it's too inconsistent. I have had amazing meals/service as well as complete sh*te one's. That's also why no Manchester restaurant has a star. As for the erotic theming, doesn't the owner also have Fantasy Bar?

Jonathan SchofieldJune 30th 2009.

Those pictures are poor because this was an impromtu sort of review. It was done during a dining occasion which was simply for pleasure but when the meal turned out so good I decided I needed to tell the world.

JinkiesJune 30th 2009.

Come to think about it, that sausage reminds me of those really expensive coffee beans that cats are, erm, involved in the production of.

MichaelJune 30th 2009.

The food has always been outstanding at Lounge 10. Please don't tell too many people, I want it kept a secret!What's more the entertainment is fantastic. Frankie Paris sings swing and is amazing. So amazing we booked him for our wedding.A great restaurant that always delivers. Keep up the good work!

GordoJune 30th 2009.

Now now Emma, I hope you're not being rude about Gordo's pals?

GKWJune 30th 2009.

Kit went ages agoand a good thing too. The first and last time I went there Kit treated us like a fourth class citizen, even thought the table was booked by the owner (?Phil?) not sure if he still is. Even after ordering the most expensive Champagne & wine on their then list he sat us on a table by the second steps going up and even placed the champagne on the stairs for all to bump into. The food was only just average, and it was only when the then driver of the limo recognised me that Kit came over to appologise for the table and decided to move us after we dined and comped us 2 glasses of Paradis and a limo home.This was my experience several years ago, but enough to put me off for a long time, considering I dine out 3 or 4 times a week they have missed out. Please be aware it does get very hot in the restaurant and adds to discomfort. Sorry if my rant upsets anyone, but this did happen

BenJune 30th 2009.

I was thinking the exact same thing Red Ink. Recently the food has looked like actual ****e

emma graceJune 30th 2009.

No no not at all! I just have always thought he was a Dead Ringer for Meatloaf ;)

AnonymousJune 30th 2009.

I didn't know man con had turned into a dating site?

Mr WilsonJune 30th 2009.

I had taken Mrs W to this place a few times and as a few others have commented the food is always excellent, but the service oh my god. They sway from one extreme to the other. I remenber trying to book for valentines one year and the guy on the phone insisted on calling me by the wrong name the whole time. When we turned up we were shoved in a corner with the rest of the cattle whilst some oik potato headed footballist and his crowd of noisey gimps swanned around. Now I dont dislike football types but the way the staff ignored the rest of the restaurant was shameful. Suffice to say we left early and gave our host a clear impression why. The guy is a total idiot he wasnt interested and we have not been back since. The place needs a big dose of reality. They charge lots and in reality deliver little. The food is lovely though and if I could just get past the crappy service...

emmaollyJune 30th 2009.

i wrote a letter of complaint - no reply either.

I do believeJune 30th 2009.

I do believe you were refering to the sausage... not the potato

emmaollyJune 30th 2009.

i've been to lounge ten twice, but never again. first meal was awful...i think the chef forgot to put the rest of it on the plate and the second time they gave me food poisoning. I was ill for days. Really don't know what all the fuss is about...

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