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Restaurant review: The Panoramic

Gordo joins the mile-high club with Angie Sammons and Jonathan Schofield. What a boy!

Written by . Published on April 7th 2009.


Restaurant review: The Panoramic

GORDO finds himself being blown across Liverpool at lunchtime; it’s bloody windy. He was due up the Beetham West Tower, all the way up to the thirty-fourth floor for lunch with the editors, Angie and Jonathan, in The Panoramic. Now, Gordo isn’t great with heights so he had called into the Restaurant Bar and Grill to have a sharpener with Patrick, the manager, an old pal. The place, as always, looks good and always has a nice buzz. Patrick served Gordo memorable fish and chips a while back.

Angie meets him there, mentioning that during a somewhat strict booking process with The Panoramic she had been asked to give a £15 credit card deposit in case of a no-show. Now, we are living in uncertain times, where people do book into a good restaurant and then find themselves skint the day before, Gordo has been there. But guys, please, a bit of class eh? Take the credit card by all means, but £15?

And another thing. Telling people over the phone that you have a no-trainers-or-trackie policy rather lowers the tone, too.

One double gin and tonic later finds the porker blown through the front door of Beetham Tower and into the lift. Thirty four floors later, Gordo walks into the restaurant which has the type of seating in the bar that, once you get into it, you aren’t getting out of in a hurry. It’s brown, leather, wood, carpet. The whole, not just the chairs. Tasteful brown mind you, sort of Galaxy chocolate as opposed to the old Woollies stuff your Gran used to get you.

But the thing here is the view. Clearly you are high up, but so high you get to see right out over the Irish Sea, over to Wales, you can even see the Beetham Tower all the way over in Manchester and Blackpool Tower. The place is quietly busy, with some good looking punters, all without trainers. One feller was dressed nearly as smartly as Gordo.

You don’t really get people spending upwards of sixty quid a head coming in trackies and trainers; mind you: if they did, and it was Gordo’s gaff, he would be welcoming the buggers with open arms.

Oliver, the head front of house honcho, comes over and Gordo orders a couple of bottles for the table, one a fairly rare Pinot Gris with age on it, which was outstanding but did cost over seventy quid, so it should. Another was a Pomerol, again on the heavy side at sixty-odd quid, and, finally, a wine called Eos from the New World, recommended by the aforementioned Oliver, who is a good deal better with the New World than Gordo. The wine list is good, surprisingly well priced, as it happens, with a load of good bottles under thirty quid.

The table cloths are white linen, the chairs comfy and the view is staggering from wherever you sit. The bread isn’t great, it’s a bit waxy. Which starts to put the fat one in a mood. The bread, the Frenchies will tell you, is the most important part of the meal; it sets the tone for what is to come. The kitchen needs to look at this, and Gordo is expecting a poor meal until the starters arrive.

The deal at lunch is £19.50 for three courses. The menu is written, a little irritatingly, in over-the-top minimalist. But in normal English here is what was chosen. Roast parsnip soup (knockout, delightful smokiness), fillet of mackerel with a croquette sat on top with smears of a “tart” cream (lip smacker this one) and finally a robust yet moist potted pork terrine with apple chutney and sage toast (Gordo can’t remember the toast, Angie ate it) but this was a darling porky piggy dish with the right amount of fat and a dream chutney that cut straight through and lifted the pig off the plate and on its way to Heaven.

We ordered the vegetarian main course for the benefit of our weird veggie mentalist readers (you know who you

are and that Gordo thinks you are all very, very weird). This, as a middle course, was a soup dish in which sat saffron-pickled shallots, carrots and celery with a large dollop of cauliflower cream sprinkled with aromatics including tarragon. Very classy this; as good, if not better than any dish the famous Simon Rimmer has cooked for Gordo at his veggie restaurant Greens in Didsbury. He can still taste this one and would happily order it again.

Mains were sea trout hugged by sauerkraut, napped with a red wine syrup (bit bland, the sauerkraut should have had more kick to lift flavour out of a perfectly good piece of trout, the red wine sauce didn’t work as well as the ones made in Burgundy), braised beef cheeks, slow roast onions and turnip puree (the turnip puree wasn’t turnippy enough but the beef was in the top three slow cooked beef dishes ever eaten by the greedy sod that is Gordo) whilst the roast cod with carrots, crispy bacon and parsley was, well, err, perfect as it happens.

Side dishes are not listed on the menu and frankly the only need for them really is to boost the restaurant's profits and keep the lunch menu price point under twenty quid, somewhat irritating and frowned upon by Gordo and his editors.

However, look at the picture of the carrots. These were proper carrots, let Gordo tell you. They were the Scarlett Johansson of carrots. The side of mash was great, but it was a bit like putting one of the Hollyoaks girls in the ring. Scarlett would knock ‘em dead.

We had cheese next, beautifully kept and presented, maybe could have done with one more French choice, not smelly enough possibly? Bit debatable, the cheese is an extra £8.50 on the menu, but worth it.

Finally, puddings. By this time Schofield had come over all girly and refused one, Angie and Gordo soldiered on beating up a chocolate mousse sat atop a cherry jelly and a… Oh dear, it’s at this point that Gordo’s memory fails him. Angie, what did we have next?

The service in this gaff is outstanding, with a staff level on the very high side. Oliver and his team, once they got over the shock of Gordo arriving out of the lift unannounced, as he hadn’t declared himself to the concierge at ground level, were professional and charming. Gordo’s tip is to tell Oliver how much you want to spend on a wine along with the style and let him do the choosing. He knows his stuff.

This is, by any standard, a great destination restaurant. It isn’t the most expensive in the North West by a long way, but serves food that, in the main, competes well with all except the best Michelin starred restaurants. It is a place that everyone in the region should come and have a go at. Gordo will be taking his mum and dad next time it’s his turn for a family lunch. Forty miles or not from Manchester, it’s worth the trip.

Oh, the website is a bit out of date, probably because of the poncy software that someone talked them into using which is majorly difficult to update. This is why Gordo can’t give the exact details on the wines. Apart from him being a pisshead, that is.

Follow Gordo on twitter GordoManchester

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: Don't be daft.

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

AnonymousApril 7th 2009.

I'm going this weekend, never been good with heights so wish me luck

muchadoerApril 7th 2009.

Food is disgusting. Clientele typical scouse yobs in Magistrates Court suits from Burtons and orange faced wagettes with tattooed eyeliner.For decent food (and better people) come to Manchester and enjoy yourself without fear of being robbed by drug addicts.

Not surprisedApril 7th 2009.

You weren't wearing a tracksuit I hope. I reckon it matters in here completely on who you are. If you hand your CV in first, you might get better service next time from this supercillious bunch.

doc martinApril 7th 2009.

Impressive lunch at the Panoramic - we'd a view as far as Snowdon and the Lake District. Service was fast, friendly and French. Four starters, four mains to choose from - suckling pig terrine to start, and cod with spinach and black olive oil follow. Very nice! A side order of chips would have made it perfect. Passion fruit cake and sorbet for pud. Lovely! £19.50. What's not to like? We've booked again, for when we have visitors in a couple of weeks. Unlike the London Eye, it doesn't spin round, but the view is good, and the food is better.

AnonymousApril 7th 2009.

It's good to see a good review, unlike Matthew Norman's hatchet job when he went with Alexie Sayle. It's worth it for the view alone, but the service was terrible when I went.

AndyApril 7th 2009.

Did anyone read the review of this restaurant in the Weekend Guardian a couple of months ago? The gave it 3/20.

YawnApril 7th 2009.

Well he hasn't actually, as far as I know, ever been vitriolic about Liverpool. Adrian Gill is ok. However, according to 60 Hope Street's website, he calls it "a London restaurant in Liverpool" so maybe he does know sod all after all, or maybe that phrase is just loaded with damning faint praise? Funny though

YawnApril 7th 2009.

No, you are wrong, Tourman. AA Gill writes for The Times, and why shouldn't he be allowed in Liverpool? It's a free country isn't it?

superfozzerApril 7th 2009.

We went here last September, the views are great as described and pictured above. However, when asked what my partner thought of her starter of chicken/vegetable soup she politely said 'it was fine but lacking in chicken'. The reply from the waiter was 'well this is fine dine dining !' We were a bit taken aback and felt that we were being treated as some kind of provincial oiks who should know better than to question the quality of the food. We have never had this at any of the other restaurants in town 60 hope street, TLCW etc etc where you may expect the inflated prices inflate the ego's of the staff.My advice, go up for a drink, if you do have food don't offer an opinion as you are likely to be frowned upon!

Full EnglishApril 7th 2009.

Sincere apologies to the original ‘Hungry Horace’ for my identity theft of that nom de plume in regard to my lunchtime experience at the Panorama. I can only plead that it was late and I was tired and had, clearly, not read through previous posts with sufficient care.

Rusty SpikeApril 7th 2009.

Memories grow dim, but in the distant past at the long gone, but not lamented, 'lava' pie stall at the Pierhead, one could probably have bought the entire stock for £8.50 and the whole shebang - caravan, serving hatch, staff and all - for sixty quid. How times change. This Panoramic joint is just what Liverpool needs - honest - if it is to scorch into the 21st century and shed its rag-tag and bobtail image. And it warms the cockles of this once frequent imbiber of a decent decanter of 'red vino collapso' or two that Gordo thinks nothing of splurging £60 or £70 on bottles of tongue loosener. Splendid. We can eat and drink our way out of this accursed recession, or at least throw up the contents over the nearest banking house floor. Long live cheese boards and red wine.

Boiled Beef and CarrotsApril 7th 2009.

Were they as slapdash about presenting you with the bill?

greedy pig...April 7th 2009.

had a table for four a few weeks ago, evening, the food was that good, just take it from me, you will enjoy it whatever you have! However our two £30 bottles of wine came with the only words that came from the wine waiters lips the whole nice "excellent choice" having no consideration to what food we'd ordered thought this a bit strange.....I thought the place in general had excellent service but lacked leadership in that from start to finish including our expensive exit, there was nobody in charge or left you with a memory of who to ask for next time!!Most amazingly of all though were the ladies and gents toilets which resembled quite distinctly 14ft caravan toilets in that they are basically a tiny plastic capsule which lacked privicy.Would I recommend it, for food and the views yes, but it definately lacked a manager/head waiter who could have made it even more memorable. which for just short of 300 quid I expect 10 out of 10 for everything.........

A. A. PatrolmanApril 7th 2009.

A.A. Gill was thrown out of Gordon Ramsey's restaurant and he would be lynched if ever he set foot in Wales. If he hasn't been offensive about the North in general and Liverpool in particular I'd be most surprised. A bell-end who thinks his bigoted vitriol is wit.

TourmanApril 7th 2009.

The review in The Guardian was by AA Gill, a man who should not be allowed in Liverpool. He never has a good word to say about anything Liverpudlian. He reviewed, if that is the word, the week the Pan opened. Which was before the restaurant was really established He was in the company of pseudo Scourser Alexi Sayle, which would put me off my food.

AnitaApril 7th 2009.

I've been to The Panoramic in the evening, and I'd give them 10/10 for the whole experience. The food, drink, service, manager and surroundings were all excellent..... and I've never been anywhere with a table that glows from underneath.... a great restaurant, well worth a visit.....and the views amazing.

AnonymousApril 7th 2009.

A few months ago we had one of the worst experiences ever in a restaurant, at the Panoramic. As we waited in the bar for our table - they got the drinks we ordered wrong giving us coca cola in our gin & tonics! The food was generally good - however, I agree with Greedy pig there was no-one consistent throughout the meal - A different person brought each course. Then on the last course of cheese my husband commented that something was crunchy - "Oh that'll be the figs" I said. However, after the second mouthfull, on closer inspection they were shards of glass, from a broken jar on the plate holding grapes! On calling over the waitress, who seemed to be the only member of staff left, we pointed the problem out. Off she rushed - maybe to get manager/elasoplast or water - but, no, she brought back two glasses of champagne! Why? Presumably to rinse out the blood in said mouth - we refused them (why on earth would we want champagne) just some water, quickly, please. She took them away, and promptly dropped the tray and smashed them, instead of getting someone else to tend to this while she delivered our water, she came back out with mop and bucket and started clearing up! All of this I might add without uttering one word to us - not even sorry. The place was a shambles and had no leadership. The head waiters seemed to be in competition that night and the atmosphere was very odd. Not the comfortable and stress free evening that you want.

AndyApril 7th 2009.

Sorry, hadn't read the previous post I'd love to try this restaurant, but I'm yet to be convinced.

Hungry HoraceApril 7th 2009.

Went there for the first time last week for lunch. Wanted to book table for 12.15, response, 'Sorry, can't do that but can do 12.00.' Asked for credit card details and warned of £15 'no-show' charge. We arrived early - too afraid of being late and turned away! Staff pleasant enough and the view outstanding, 10/10 for that. Had expected the food to be memorable but it wasn't. My belly pork starter made me wish that I had brought my Swiss Army Knife along with me (£5 extra for that dish too.). Beef for the main course was not the best quality in my humble opinion - Swiss Army Knife would have helped there too. Wife's main course of salmon was OK, but it's difficult to go wrong with salmon, however the advertised 'Jersey Royals' turned out to be one potato cut into quarters. Best course in my view was the cheese, albeit the portions were miniscule.Have you ever seen the Harry Enfield sketches, 'I saw you coming.'? The whole dining experience reminded me of that. Pretentious and pricey.Anyhow I have been there, done that, but would be too embarrassed to wear the tee shirt. I'll stick to the all-day breakfast in 'Me Mams' in Manchester Street in future.

Egon RonayApril 7th 2009.

They used to have catering colleges to teach silver service waiting - we had two, the Nautical in Canning Place and Colquitt Street. Now they're all gone and replaced by cramped flats and junk food 'restaurants' for the sort of people who eat with their fists and piss in the street. They call this 'regeneration'. What can you expect?

LISAApril 7th 2009.

can you just go for drinks in the afternoon? if so do u have to book that as well...

AnonymousApril 7th 2009.

See above.

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