Welcome to Manchester Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Manchester ConfidentialFood & DrinkModern European.

River Bar & Grill Reviewed By Gordo

The Fat One adores the simplicity at the Lowry Hotel's reinvented restaurant

Published on April 7th 2014.


River Bar & Grill Reviewed By Gordo
 

THE smoked salmon confirmed it; presented beautifully, ribboned across the plate with a small mound of finely chopped shallots and tiny capers. A half of lemon, wrapped in muslin. Fresh, buttered brown bread. 

Simple is the most difficult thing to get right. Coco Chanel and little black dresses along with Matisse and Blue Nudes say it all.

The black pepper was already on the table in a small mill, alongside the sea salt. The provenance, from the Inverawe smoke houses, though farmed was immaculate, the rivulets of fat closely packed together showed a fish that had been given space and some work to do.

Smoked salmon

Smoked salmon

Farrow and Ball couldn’t have got the colour of this salmon more salmon and the cure rose off the luscious flesh perfuming the air around Gordo with scents of oak and green tea along with gunpowder notes. 

The Lowry River Restaurant hasn’t been great for some time. It sat back for a while and scratched its arse, waiting to see what would happen to the ownership of this great hotel. It was breaking Gordo’s heart, as the staff front of house are amongst the best in the country. They are also pals. 

Now it’s the Lowry Bar and Grill.  

The Lowry Hotel

 

The Lowry Hotel

Gordo had been told this three weeks earlier, apparently, it’s been re-named to underline a new menu. The smoked salmon confirmed what Gordo had for so long wanted to hear. That something was being done to arrest the slide in quality that was flying towards an event horizon, into the black hole of hotel obscurity. 

The new restaurant has three things in its favour. A voguish Josper grill, a solid chef in Andrew Wilkie and a menu that takes superior ingredients, dealing with them with the simplicity of a diva ballerina. Escoffier with his grill sections at the Ritz a hundred years ago would have smiled. 

Let’s start at the beginning. It’s actually the second time Gordo has been in two weeks. The first was to catch up with his pal, the photographer Pip Rustage. 

That visit was a professional invite from Helen Hipkiss, the marketing gaffer of the hotel. She had, ten months before, listened to a litany of moans from the Fat One about the food. She said she wouldn’t mither him until she felt they had it right. So eventually Gordo got a ‘come and tell us what you think’ invite, not for general consumption. 

And it was pretty bang on. 

 Onion soup get's chef compliment

 

Onion soup get's chef compliment - what a shocker

The second visit was a paid walk-in to check it wasn’t a fluke; or over-engineered just for that occasion. Gordo arrived with the Editor and their pal, the remarkable chef David Gale, lately of the Hilton on Deansgate and soon to take over The Waldorf in that there London. 

There are subtle changes to the bar, which serves arguably the best gin and tonic in town. The restaurant remains the same. The front of house is led by Huseyn Bozkurt, Manchester’s smoothest Maitre’d. It is always a pleasure to sit down at one of his tables.  The staff on the first occasion the score was a perfect five. The second a 4.75 out of five. More of that later. 

Chef Gale wasn’t sitting for the whole meal and so simply ordered the French onion soup (£6.50). He talked through our meal without mentioning it, apart from a ‘very good’ to the young lady serving us. Which is praise indeed. Normally all the chefs love to find something to moan about their competitor’s food. Gordo could smell the hour and a half it had taken to sweat and caramelize the onions and knew it was class simply from the aroma. 

A tuna tartare (£10.50) on the first occasion had gone a bit Peru; Gordo wasn’t concentrating well enough but recognized the background acidity of the ceviche style, done extraordinarily well. 

The wine list is excellent at all levels. Huseyn advised the table to try the most weirdly named Meursault Gordo has had; Mischief and Mayhem. This wine is from Burgundy and is a white wine using Chardonnay grapes. 

Decorum and Delight from Mischief and Mayhem

 

Decorum and Delight from Mischief and Mayhem

The team behind this product are Micheal and Fiona Rigg, with their pal, Micheal Twelftree. Marking a usually stuffy French label with the grape variety in bold, and a name that Americans can easily remember, is clever marketing. The other bit of cleverness is the absolute quality of the wine. Gordo can’t remember a more impressive introduction since discovering the merchant Louis Latour and one of their grand cru Chablis on a hot summer’s day at Sharrow Bay, in the Lake District thirty-three years ago. 

Like Latour, trust the brand whenever you see them. This feller was a hefty £97, the wine has risen from around £20 a bottle in the shops to around £40 plus today. One to have on special occasions. 

This is what Schofield, the Editor, wrote about his lobster bisque: 

‘I had to keep my hand on the bowl to keep this from floating away. Wilkie had produced a bisque that smelled gorgeous, looked gorgeous and lifted the spirits. It was succulent and beautifully light, aided by the crème fraiche. The over-riding memory is of it being delicately yet persistently and exquisitely fishy. A top job. I want it this minute…Now Gordo, write your own bloody reviews next time.’ 

Thank you Mr Editor. 

Bisque to bask in

 

Bisque to bask in

Gordo’s main was a rack of lamb, (£25.50), cooked rare, highly seasoned, crisped on the outside from the fiery heat of the Josper, and a classy result in the middle with big flavour. Served with pureed potatoes and roasted, skinned tomatoes. Gordo attacked the bones with his fingers. He wasn’t offered a finger bowl. The only mistake in service. 

Gordo likes a lovely rack

 

Gordo likes a lovely rack

Schofield had the North Sea Lemon Sole, (£24) which Gordo had on his previous visit. Both were fantastic, cooked in the Josper grill. The fast cooking with this bit of kit works well with a chunky piece of seafood, keeping it moist and not allowing the flavour to run off into the middle distance. 

Lemon sole not dry and soulless

 

Lemon sole not dry and soulless

There are abundant sides to choose from, priced at around £3.50 and delivered with panache, keeping to the fresh and simple line. 

Puddings included a baked apple custard (£6.50). A whole apple, cored, stuffed with raisins reminiscent of Christmas, baked, sat on a pillow of custard in a deep puddle of liquid, tart jam.  It was just bloody lovely. The picture tells the complete story here. 

Baked apple works perfectlyBaked apple works perfectly

The only food fail of the two meals was the ‘traditional trifle’ (£6.50), which, whilst charming, let down Gordo and t’Editor, from Salford and Rochdale respectfully. Both have very firm views on trifles. It was nice, but didn’t grip it. It was a bit, er… southern…and thus weak? Jelly should never be presented in cubes on top of the trifle, they should be inside the belly of the monster. 

 Trifle all wrong

 

Trifle all wrong

 

All in all these two meals show that the Lowry is back on form and in the thick of it. 

Simple is the most difficult thing to get right. Coco Chanel and little black dresses along with Matisse and Blue Nudes say it all. 

This chef is delivering with a simple passion. 

You can follow Gordo on Twitter here @gordomanchester

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

The River Bar & Grill, The Lowry Hotel, 50 Dearman’s Place, Chapel Wharf, M3 5LH. 0161 827 4041. 

Rating: 16.75/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below, venues are rated against the best examples of their kind) 

Food:  8/10 (Smoked salmon 8, tuna tartare, lobster bisque, lamb 9, lemon sole 9, baked apple 8, trifle 6)
Service: 4.75/5
Ambience: 4/5

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.

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

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

Gordo Knows WhoApril 7th 2014.

This is why I go here to have real food with service to match, instead of being told by "chefs" with tasting menus what I must eat. You can wine and dine with proper linen tablecloths and napkins which to me, and most of my friends is a requirement to a proper restaurant. Anyway glad you agree with me and look forward to having a nosh up together.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Hero
GordoApril 7th 2014.

always a pleasure Stephen ;-

AnonymousApril 7th 2014.

Used to go here for special nights now and again but it did go a bit downhill at one stage. But this is a great review and it certainly looks like its re-captured real quality. Will definitely give it a go. Incidentally Gordo, try the grand cru Chablis in Australasia. Its an absolute joy and will take you straight back to that day 33 years ago.....

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoApril 7th 2014.

oooh, that I will, they're a bit sparse on the ground these days

AnonymousApril 7th 2014.

How much? :O

FoodieApril 7th 2014.

I used to work there under David Woolf in the Marco Pierre White restaurant, it used to be proper fine dining but after all this years it definitely became slowly rubbish. I am sorry to say it isn't 5 star hotel to get an onion soup or a trifle. 25 £ for a rack of lamb? You are having a laugh. Customers expect posh/ fine dining/ different not gastro pub food

1 Response: Reply To This...
DigsterApril 8th 2014.

People want good quality, well cooked food, served with flair, great service and lovely surroundings. Just because it is a 5 star hotel that does not change the fact. Prices will always be more in a hotel. I've stayed there quite a few times now and this seems a marked improvement.

FoodieApril 7th 2014.

Sorry forgot the baked apple hahaha I used to cook this when I was 6

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoApril 8th 2014.

Foodie, when David Woolf was there it was poor. Very Poor. What a little know-it-all snot you are. If you could execute that baked apple any where near as well I'll shag a lampost. Fancy de-cloaking and I'll put a comp up between you and the pastry chef at the Lowry, see who coes out best? I'll throw in £250 to the charity of the winner?

MaggieApril 9th 2014.

He he he, hope foodie does well, only because it would be funny to see Gordo shaggin' a lampost, he he he!

AnonymousApril 7th 2014.

raisons to be cheerful?

AnonymousApril 8th 2014.

expensive but very nice

Mike ChannonApril 8th 2014.

Gauntlet thrown! Lets hope it's picked up, I'd buy a ticket.

AnonymousApril 8th 2014.

Veggie options?. Gluten free options?. No?. Catch up Mancon. Review fail.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoApril 9th 2014.

I'm sorry? Gluten free options? Veggie Options? This is Gordo writing, bugger off to somewhere else that GAF's.

AnonymousApril 9th 2014.

Anon, why must we pander to every little bloody need? Can't the rest of us just enjoy some nice food? Sorry for breathing, by the way.

AnonymousApril 9th 2014.

I'm not saying pander to it, I'm suggesting it'd be a nice to know. The reviews are just getting a bit samey. Review the meat, I don't give a shit. I just thought a review might involve a bit more of a variety of opinions on different food. Ya know, to give a balanced review for those people who GAF.

FoodieApril 8th 2014.

Gordo I would like to apologised , it look like you know better than me ( and everybody else) You are so right, I need to taste the food before to criticised it , I really can't wait now to go to a five star hotel and eat lamb and sloppy mash, with 1970s trifle( with grass on top) and baked apple . By the way really can't wait to see you shagging this lamppost

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoApril 9th 2014.

OK Foodie, tell us who you are with your email address and I will set up the competition. What days are you free?

AnonymousApril 9th 2014.

Yes, and make sure it's within your ankle bracelet's radius.

FoodieApril 8th 2014.

And don't get me started on this onion soup and burnt crouton

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoApril 9th 2014.

getting boring, see above

FoodieApril 9th 2014.

Which charity are we playing for? Help Gordo to found his tastepuds back? I am in if so

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoApril 9th 2014.

Your choice. Name and email address Big Boy.

FoodieApril 9th 2014.

Gordo , please let be friend, let's meet for a nice meal! I know a great 3 Michelin star call Wetherspoons, it will be right up your street

FoodieApril 9th 2014.

And please please please please respect other people opinion and without taking it the wrong way, hate being bullied by some wannabe food critic.

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoApril 10th 2014.

I respect people with valid opinions and who are prepared to stand by their statements Foodie. I dislike keyboard warriors who sneer. So, you have stated that you could have done the Lowry Baked Apple at age six. I say you are talking through your bottom? How to resolve? Tell us who you are, I will set up a cook off, for charity. Bully? No, the opposite, I am defending a fabulous pastry chef against someone who is being rude, snotty and ignorant, whilst sat behind a computer screen, probably in a dirty pair of underpants and just that little bit sticky. Wannabe? again, rude, snotty and ignorant. In life Foodie, you reap what you sow. Anyway, unless you tell us who you are and supply an email address, this is the end of thread.

FoodieApril 10th 2014.

Unfortunately because I am a busy man and it is school holidays my son( 3 years old) will attend instead of me to cook the apple. I am quite confident he will beat the pastry chef of the Lowry ( even if he hasn't even cook before) About my underpants, yes you are right, they are dirty, because I pissed myself looking at this pictures you took in this 5 star gastro pub. Yours sincerely, Foodie ( unlike you)

1 Response: Reply To This...
DigsterApril 10th 2014.

This is getting incredibly boring!

ParkersmithJune 7th 2014.

I love bars and grills and I love lamb. However, I prefer my meat to be well done, not medium-rare. Best restaurant in singapore 2013 www.blvd.sg/our-venues…

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 10th 2014.

Can you bugger off with your spam, please.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
OR CREATE AN ACCOUNT HERE..
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants

Anonymous

Very tasty though.

 Read more
Anonymous

Foie Gras = barbaric cruelty.

 Read more
Anonymous

The provender is the start, the kitchen the art, but then comes the diner. Apart from gazing at the…

 Read more
Poster Boy

Coterie. It's how It works.

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2017

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code | SEO by The eWord