Housed in the Manchester235 casino – though set apart from the gaming floor on its own mezzanine level – James Martin’s Manchester restaurant serves up modern British cuisine in the industrial-chic surroundings of the Great Northern Warehouse.
The seasonally changing menus give top billing to ingredients from renowned UK butchers, fishmongers, game dealers, farmers and cheese makers, and the tasting menu on our visit started promisingly with warm bread served with loads of butter, extra salt and a bowl of hot, hearty beef dripping to dip.
Wye Valley spears come with creamy melted Baron Bigod cheese, like an English Brie, alongside pickled pink Roscoff onion, spicy nasturtium, aromatic dill oil and crunchy malt crumbs that have been through the fryer. XO mackerel is served with smoked crunchy gem lettuce, the smoky flavours from the Josper grill enhanced by coal oil. There’s lightness, though, thanks to chunks of sharp pomelo and citrusy ponzu sauce.
Slow cooked duck egg oozes its golden yolk into grilled grelot onions, meaty hen of the woods mushrooms, watercress velouté and the tiniest new season Jersey Royal potatoes. Plump pink rump of Lake District Herdwick lamb comes with creamy lamb sweetbreads and rosti potatoes cooked in the lamb fat. Wild garlic and ribbons of fermented turnip cut through the fattiness.
Puddings include a banoffee soufflé, light as a feather, with intensely flavoured roast banana ice cream and a sticky-sweet caramelised white chocolate sauce.
Overall, this is a great bet for strong, seasonal cooking in comfortable surroundings.