In the restaurant world January is a month where offers are everywhere you turn, there’s 50% off here and free cocktails there. As I work in a restaurant myself finding the time to visit somewhere with a great discount becomes limited. So imagine my surprise when February arrives and restaurants are extending offers! Woohoo. I can only assume this is due to the fact that there is a new restaurant opening every minute in Manchester and competition is fierce.
Harvey Nichols won me over this year, each Winter and Summer they bring out a tasting menu at such a good price, three courses and a cocktail for £20.
The restaurant is on the second floor of Harvey Nichols and its strange to walk through the shop at night glancing over at brands like Jo Malone and you push past the Chloe shades much like Narnia to get to the lift.
There a friendly hostess takes our coats and directs us to our table which is next to the window, the view of Manchester always gets me, after years of road works it’s lovely to see how Exchange square has developed. Fine dining is a love of mine but it doesn’t change the fact that I still feel out of place and a little nervous. I asked the manager for permission to take pictures, his reply was sharp and he warned me not to take pictures of anything else but the food. Eekk now I am nervous. He takes our order quickly and disappears. This winter offer is sponsored by Bacardi so there is only one cocktail choice, with rum and pineapple it’s more like a summer cocktail but it’s ok.
Our waiter was a delight, his enthusiasm for the food and genuine interest in what we are doing with our night is so nice to see. He creates a nice atmosphere for us and I start to relax which is a skill only good waiting staff have.
For my starter I choose the Mussels in a chilli and coconut broth with coriander garnish. The dish is very Thailand inspired and it reminds me of a Tom Kha, the perfect choice when the temperature outside is plummeting. It’s a messy dish and it came with a finger bowl thankfully and the sourdough bread we ordered as a snack was a great addition to this too.
Mark chose the Chicken & Mushroom soup with tarragon dumplings. He’s not a massive fan of soups but you wouldn’t guess this by his reaction. He claims it’s the best soup he’s ever tasted, which is high praise considering he’s a chef!
Being a massive carnivore Mark is always shocked that I pick out vegetarian dishes when we’re in a restaurant, but I believe most vegetarian dishes are packed with flavour to make up for it being meat-less. So I choose the Tarragon gnocchi with wild mushroom ragout, chive crème fraiche and fried quails egg. It’s a delicious dish and brownie points go to the kitchen for making fresh gnocchi.
Quail eggs are weird right? last time I had one was when the Urbis building had a restaurant called La Mont on the top floor and the waiter cracked an egg into my soup in front of me, (a weird moment! ) so I was happy to see the chef had cooked it in his own time.
Mark chose the Cod with bonito yoghurt, butternut squash, fennel, green chilli and lime dressing. This was ok but after his starter his hopes were on cloud nine and nothing was topping that.
Ahh the best bit of any meal, the dessert.
I ordered my dessert at the beginning of the meal with the manager but the waiter asked what we would like again, explaining that we ordered two cheesecakes and I was on the fence whether to change, he immediately became excited by the thought of me having my second choice.
Rice pudding dim sum with rhubarb and lemongrass was my second choice. I love a good rice pudding in fact I even like a bad rice pudding, blame the North! The waiter explained that this is his favourite dessert and then I knew I had to have it. When it arrives I remember why I didn’t choose it. Rhubarb! I do not like rhubarb!
To my surprise the rhubarb is not overpowering like how I remember, the lemongrass mixed perfectly with it creating a dessert I am happy with.
The cheesecake arrived in front of Mark and a pang of jealousy hit me (that quickly went away once my rhubarb drama ended) the colours were striking and the taste is even better.
The cheesecake was vanilla with raspberries, meringue and marshmallows. That is something I need to try at home!
Overall I would happily recommend Harvey Nichols, the offer ends tomorrow but keep you eyes peeled as they may have a Summer one soon.