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Zinc Restaurant Reviewed

Ruth Allan finds things are stacking up at The Corn Exchange

Published on January 10th 2013.

Zinc Restaurant Reviewed

ZINC'S decor is sharp and very 'modern'. The Individual Restaurant Company's (IRC) Corn Exchange restaurant has man-loads of leather, chrome and glass are a theme as chalkboards warm the two-tiered central space like a dab of crisp cologne.

Pearl-opaque flakes float on puy lentils and rather than dominating, the tomato chilli salsa breathes a lightness into the palate.

The outdoor terrace is real honeypot in summer. Sitting out on the pavement, with a glass of chilled rose feels chic and urbane at the same time. And if you can’t wait for summer, the rosé  is good year round. Try the Rosé  Pinot Grigio Blush £5.75 / £7.75 or Chateau Minuty 2007 Reserve, £32.95 bottle. Wine generally is well thought through here. Neil Sowerby and the editor and a cracking time with some Chassagne Montrachet before Christmas - click here.

Zinc on the insideZinc on the inside

The menu includes 'Classics' or bistro/pub favourites (liver and onions, fish and chips, crispy Asian duck) and steaks sourced from IRC's farm in Hereford.

Together with Living Ventures, IRC have the Manc bistro market cornered with Zinc and Restaurant Bar and Grill on John Dalton Street. I didn’t try it but the beef dry-aged in rock salt (£26.95 for a 10oz sirloin) sounds awesome and if memory serves the chicken, avocado and bacon salad (£7.95/£11.95) is comfort food with flair. Fresh fish for baked halibut (£23.50) or grilled lemon sole (£24.95) is delivered daily from Direct Seafoods in Fleetwood. It adds up to a classy if predictable picture.

We relax on the mezzanine as bloody steaks and goblets of Chenin Blanc whizz by. Towering creations wobble over tubs of thrice-cooked chips and desserts seem literally a high point. Common or garden chocolate fondant is jazzed up with green tea ice cream, and there’s a really natty Eton Mess take on Black Forest Gateau, complete with chocolate popping candy, tart cherries, a smooth, simple chocolate sauce and gushings of whipped cream (both £6.50).

Eton MessEton Mess

MacaroonsMacaroonsI draw the short straw with a starter of baked mushrooms with Tallegio (soft, Italian cows' cheese), garlic bruschetta, basil and pesto (special, £7.75). Like BO, sun-dried tomato can knock out all in its vicinity and a thick, sun-dried 'jam' on the ciabatta is just too much. Home-made macaroons are less luxuriously cracking and creamy than I like them . Aubaines in Selfridges are still the best, but these are well priced (at £3.50 for five).

Calves liver and onions (£16.95) is a manly tower of a dish, a real kingpin. The base is mash with a moat of light jus, topped with slabs of unctuous liver, lightest wafers of crisp-through bacon and tempura-light onion rings. Should your usual hoops ascend to heaven, this is how they would return; like little, savoury halos.

Liver and onions reach for the skyLiver and onions reach for the sky

Haddock and spinach stackHaddock and spinach stackI’m not sure if this is deliberate ordering but my friend Chris’s starter borders on phallic too, with a poached egg, wedge of smoked, un-dyed haddock and spinach stack smothered in the lightest, lemoniest hollandaise. Anatomical allusions aside, Zinc’s sauces are a strength.

After a stuttering bruschetta, I’m concerned about my roast cod main with lentils and tomato salsa (£17.95), but aspects of ginger, chilli and a delicate touch lift this dish above bistro snooze-fest. Pearl-opaque flakes float on puy lentils and rather than dominating, the tomato chilli salsa breathes a lightness into the palate.

Head chef at Zinc is Michael Cairns, but you can feel the influence of of development chef, Warrick Dodds, on the menu.

Dodds, is a name many will recognise from stints at Northcote Manor and as chef-patron at Lytham St Ann’s The Hastings. From his kitchen above RBG he conducts experiments, and sends menu specs out like a demi-god.

Cod and lentilsCod and lentils

In fact the menu at Zinc is close to sister outlet, RBG. Business heaven, we conclude, but with plenty of scope for your average lunch or supper seekers.

The only flaw in the plan, perhaps, is the bill. Undeniably pricey, mains (like the lemon sole, at almost £25) compete with two Michelin star gaffs like L’Enclume, where six of the finest courses in the UK will set you back just £35 at lunch. One for the business card.  

You can follow Ruth Allan on Twitter here @RuthAllan


Zinc, The Triangle, The Corn Exchange, Manchester, M4 3TR. 0161 827 4200. Web.

Rating: 13.91/20 

Food: 6.91/10 (Bruschetta 5.5, Haddock 7.5, Cod 7.5, Liver 8, Eton 7.5, Macaroons 5.5)
Service: 4/5
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.

Impressive scale on the liver and onionsImpressive scale on the liver and onions

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

GordoJanuary 10th 2013.

Craig is a great General Manager here. I have had the fish and chips twice in the last six months, whilst I once spent a pleasant four hours drinking everything I could throw down my neck in a continual summer downpour last August. Well deserved review; i quite like the decor, it has to be said!

Edward CrossJanuary 10th 2013.

I concur - Craig has to be one of the best rfont of house in the city!

AnonymousJanuary 10th 2013.

13.91 out of 20? can you just stick to marking out of ten and be rid of the decimal points?

AnonymousJanuary 10th 2013.

What's with the decimal points suddenly? And it doesn't add up!

Ruth AllanJanuary 10th 2013.

Schofield did the math.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 10th 2013.

It's 'maths', Jeremy...

David FoxJanuary 10th 2013.

Great pictures!!!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
CheesemanJanuary 10th 2013.

Is that sarcasm?

gordoJanuary 10th 2013.

shut ut cheeseman

gordoJanuary 10th 2013.


Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 10th 2013.

Ruth, Anon, the maths is correct...which I agree is fairly unusual

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoJanuary 10th 2013.

i think we should round up or down to the nearest .5

Ron TowerJanuary 10th 2013.

That should be Lytham St Annes not Lytham St Anns, or just Lytham to be honest, folk often combine the two separate towns..

1 Response: Reply To This...
rinkydinkJanuary 11th 2013.


Wall-EJanuary 10th 2013.

Ate at Hastings before it closed down. Warrick should be head chef somewhere as he is wasted in that role.

AnonymousJanuary 10th 2013.

Shouldn't that address be The Corn Exchange now? Ridiculously pricey for an establishment in that location opposite the Printworks.

Ruth PriceJanuary 11th 2013.

Taleggio, surely?

AnonymousJanuary 11th 2013.

Has this just turned into pedants corner?

Blue PeterJanuary 11th 2013.

Shouldn't that be pedant's?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 11th 2013.

Pedants' surely! ... More than one pedant.

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