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James Martin Manchester
BOOK A TABLE ONLINE or Tel: 0161 820 1941
Manchester 235, The Great Northern, Watson Street, Manchester, M3 4LP [map]
A stunning restaurant from one of Britain’s top celebrity chefs, James Martin within Manchester 235.
James Martin - Manchester

James Martin Restaurant Manchester ~ overall readers' reviews
most popular dish: Seasonal Menu

James Martin Manchester ~ our reviews
On To A Winner (June 2016)
James Martin Manchester

Trusted Reviewer "Now I don't expect any sympathy here, but one of the hardest things in writing about food for a living is being able to remember that meal which you had several months or even years ago.  Several days ago in my case to be honest.  What else do you base the quality of your experience on other than, well, past experiences?  The once impressive just becomes the norm, and a good meal simply becomes a case of eating some food.  Sometimes you just crave beans on toast, as too much of a good thing can blunt any experience, no matter how much you love food, care about the produce, geek out over cooking and preparation techniques.

In the week before our visit to James Martin, we'd eaten at a few culinary big boys. Our stomachs felt like it was December 29th, and the food wall had indeed landed.  In total truth, we just wanted to spend a wet Friday evening at home, in front of some trashy TV with the log fire raging away, over a nice bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir wine, in our PJ's, along with that beans on toast.  Maybe some cheese on top, who knows?  Still, you've got to be a pro about these things and just get on with the job.  Could James Martin help us scale the food wall, or leave us crashing down in a heap of excess? 

Anyway, duty demanded that we head down to James Martin Manchester. Now we've visited a few times every year since they launched in 2013.  Every year so far the bar has been raised very slightly, moving in the same general direction as the city's collaborative foodie credentials.

James Martin Manchester

Now I won't go on about the casino location and how you don't notice that you're in one whilst dining.  It's been done to death by almost every critic, writer, journalist and blogger in Manchester.  It's high time that James Martin Manchester is seen as a restaurant in its own right, rather than 'just' a casino restaurant.  It's set in a lovely dining space, feeling modern, welcoming and relevant.  For the third year running though, I still don't get the chickens on the wall.  Let see if a penny drops by next year.

We were looked after by the ever-charming and knowledgeable restaurant manager Siobhan, previously of the now closed Aumbry in Prestwich.  Siobhan gave us some fantastic wine advice, leading to us picking a superb 2013 Cycles Gladiator Zinfandel (£42) to pair with our mainly red wine friendly menu choices.  Siobhan gladly offered that we sample several tasting size portions of Chef Douglas Crampton's full sized new season a la carte menu, rather than picking full sized courses, and we jumped at the chance.  Now I won't labour every course, but some of the highlights were;
James Martin Manchester

50 day aged beef (£10.95*) with Kimchi, smoked mayonnaise and jerky.  Two of my favorite things on the same plate got things off strongly, with a great mix of richness and acidity.  We were already partially scaling the food wall after this sensational bite sized bite course.

Starters arrived with the Torched heritage carrots (£7.50), which presentation wise, made us think that Michael O'Hare had prematurely landed to town.  A literal splash of red and white colour on a black plate, topped with texture and freshness from the veg and beetroot meringue, with a burst of sweetness from candied nuts.  Accomplished flavour balancing indeed.  Next up was the Asparagus (£7.95) with black garlic, egg yolk and Berkswell cheese, which was a taste sensation, and array of colour and texture, giving amazing umami notes from the black garlic, and superb richness from the cheese, with perfectly al dente asparagus.
James Martin Manchester

By the time our main courses arrived, that old food wall was back down the road somewhere.  That was only magnified via the brilliant Sea trout (£17.50), served with cured pork loin, romesco, razor clam ceviche and cucumber.  A real treat for the eyes, with some first class cooking and technique. 

Rounding off the savouries was the Wagyu Short Rib (£18.00*).  Now beef rib is one of the finest pieces of meat known to man in my opinion, and that's before you get to the Wagyu bit.  Adding that bit, along with it being braised in stout, said rib can only be one thing; awesome, and it was.  There's old tales about Wagyu cattle being fed beer and receiving massages.  Some of it is true, mainly in Kobe Japan where much of the best Wagyu is reared and 'pampered', but generally the breed is just genetically prone to intense fat marbling, which translates into flavour and butter soft texture when cooked.  This was British Wagyu, but was still a great plate of food, garnished with onion and salsify, along with some short pastry to add texture.  It had the flavours of a great beef and onion pie, only in a new league altogether, plated as a refined dish.

James Martin Manchester

The standout pudding was the Caramelised muscovado tart (£7.00) with citrus and rum sorbet.  It was textbook, first class pastry, being paper thin, perfectly cooked, scented with allspice, with an amazingly rich yet well balanced muscovado filling.  We couldn’t fault this plate at all, and it was a fantastic way to end our meal.

Service levels did tail off a little towards the end of the evening it has to be said, once the busy patch was over and all the actual food service had been dealt with, especially when the boss was tending to other things so not on the dining room floor, so the waiting staff could perhaps be more mindful of the importance of start to finish consistency.  But generally, the team were friendly, efficient and charming to all customers, not just those who they knew were going to produce an article covering the evening, but to regular customers, new faces, and all concerned.
James Martin Manchester

As we left to catch our tram home, that log fire still sounded like a good idea, but we felt happy about dodging the beans on toast for one more evening, which after such a month of excess, is a massive complement. 

James Martin Manchester continues to impress, and makes small steps forward every single year, holding its own against town's big boys in the culinary stakes.  When you consider that it's likely that that they don’t have Michelin star aspirations or hence the need to tick certain boxes, just aiming to provide really good food in a relaxed setting, I can't really think of anywhere in town who does a better job than James Martin at Manchester 235.  Their constant improvement is a real credit to what has become one of the city's go-to food destinations. Restaurant Of Manchester (11/6/15 - visited on a Friday evening)

*Prices stated are for full size a la carte dishes, not the tasting portions as per shown

James Martin Manchester

James Martin Manchester James Martin Manchester

The Chips Are Not Down (June 2015)
James Martin Manchester -  Roast celeriac broth, Yorkshire Wagyu beef cheek, smoked eel

Trusted Reviewer "It's almost exactly a year since we last visited James Martin Manchester.  We recall being impressed by the dining room, the slick service, and the food was very decent too.  A few shortcomings including below par chips stuck in our minds ever since.  This is a crime in Manchester afterall.  I'm sure that the same can be said over the Pennines in Leeds; Mr Martin's homeland, aswell.   It's a real shame that when you eat out, you tend to remember the bad parts of a meal more than the good ones.  I guess that's because you expect the good parts, hence they are normal.  The bad ones however, you are strangely surprised by.

"Anyway, when the new menu appeared a week ago, we were keen to head down and check things out.  James Martin has rightly forged himself a stellar reputation as one of the nation's finest celebrity chef's, with actual cooking credentials to back up this reputation, so you expect a certain level of quality.   We headed over to see how things had gone since last year and were pleased to find that the dining room was, as per our last visit, spotless.  The decor was sharp, the table settings premium quality, and it was very easy to forget that you were dining in a casino. 

I still don’t understand the chicken statues, but hey, chicken tastes nice so why not.  I wasn't very impressed at having to hand over my manbag at the casino's main reception area before entering the restaurant itself either, especially since the lady in our team was allowed to carry hers without problem, but nevermind.  I'm probably too attached to that thing anyway in hindsight.

James Martin Manchester - Ink-poached cod, Charred squid, Carelian Caviar, Vietnamese mint

Once in the dining room itself, from the off, service was top end.   Attentive and slick, without being pretentious or formal.  It was right up Manchester's street, and we felt right at home.  We were greeted by a cheeky little amuse of Smoked Eel Wanton, which came in a lovely deep consomme which could perhaps have been a little cleaner, but the flavours were all there, with lovely texture from the wan ton itself.  A great little surprise to start the evening. 

Next up for starters was the Ink poached cod (£10.50); a slice of perfectly translucent white fish, with some amazing charred squid.  We also sampled the Wild Rabbit (£7.50), which came with a simply outstanding carrot puree, which was so smooth and silky we found it hard to believe that it wasn’t a gel of some form.  The mini rabbit tart which it came with perhaps had a slightly over-thick case, but flavour wise it was lovely.

James Martin Manchester -  Heaves Farm veal , Slow-cooked sirloin, ossobuco, green olive, courgette

For mains we tried the Lamb Trio; chop, loin and belly (£18.50).  Perhaps a little more colour on the plate would have broken up the brown appearance, but it was still undeniably pretty, and a real showcase of lamb and technique, with the belly acting as a second plate.  Our other main was veal, which was a lovely cut of ossobucco, complete with its bone marrow and a lovely slice of veal sirloin.  It was yet another triumph of flavour.  

It's worth mentioning that all the aforementioned was washed down with a lovely, smooth, solid all-rounder; some 2012 vintage Peter & Peter Pinot Noir, a wine which whilst being unusual in that it's a Pinot Noir from Germany, shows that the Germans don’t do many things badly at all. 

Speaking of badly, we really shouldn't have done, as none of the dishes really needed sides and were complete plates of food in their own right, but we couldn't help it.  I ordered a portion of chips (£3.50) to sidekick our mains, to see how they stacked up to last year's effort.  They were, I'm pleased to say, spot on.  A crispy exterior and a fluffy, soft inside, perfectly seasoned to boot. At this point, I kicked myself for not ordering a steak and chips, from the rather impressive Meat Market display.  We also had some mixed greens too (£3.50), which were actually just kale so not very mixed, but they were tasty nonetheless.

James Martin Manchester -  The James Martin Manchester honey pot
So, with last year's demons dispelled, on we marched to puddings, starting with the classic Sticky Toffee Pudding (£7).  You just couldn’t fault this dish really, and it was textbook stuff, as you'd expect from a JM branded pastry section.  Next was the Honey Pot (£7), a really clever dish.  Essentially a honey crème brulee, topped with a clever contrast of textures and temperatures, presented in a way which a Simon Rogan led kitchen would be proud of, in the same style too. 
James Martin Manchester -  Goat’s milk parfait, Forced Yorkshire rhubarb, mandarin, toasted seeds

Lastly we had the Goat's Milk Parfait (£7), which was yet another winner, and further schooling of contrasting ingredients combining to gel with each other.  A lovely smooth, cold parfait, mounted on a sweet yet acidic rhubarb, finished with some toasted seeds.  A fantastic way to finish.

So, we would say that James Martin Manchester has indeed raised its game from last Summer.  The menu felt more balanced, the cooking felt lighter and more precise, and the front of house work is still on point.  And did I mention that the chips were spot on? Restaurant Of Manchester (9/6/15 - visited on a Tuesday evening)

James Martin Manchester -  Wild rabbit, Pickled carrot purée, fennel pollen, black trufle
James Martin Manchester -  Spring lamb chop, loin and glazed belly, Asparagus, mint and rice wine dressing

James Martin Steaks His Claim? (May 2014)

Trusted Reviewer " Manchester is without question undergoing a bit of a foodie revolution at the moment, with both celebrity and also celebrated chefs firing up their stoves in the city. James Martin, a national treasure and rather fine pastry chef to boot, joined the revolution in Summer 2013, and has been gaining city wide popularity since then with customers keen to sample dishes which have been influenced by the talented Yorkshireman. I guess that nobody's perfect though, right? Anyway, we were invited along to sample the current menu, and see how the team is faring almost a year into their venture, and couldn’t wait to check things out.

Now a restaurant in a casino may well seem like a strange concept, and it is I guess, but once you've checked your pre-requisite Mancunian brolly in at the front desk, and made your way to the impressive James Martin adorned staircase towards the back of the casino, you really don’t realise that you're in a casino at all. A great job has been done to separate the two entities, and the transition is clean yet very obvious.

From the moment you scale the stairs and arrive at the welcome desk, service was slick, friendly and welcoming. The dining room was smart and tidy, albeit with nothing which made you think about Chef Martin, other than signs adorned with his name. We were escorted to a lovely window seat by the manager, who sported a sharp suit to match his sharp tableside manner. A solid start, and fitting of the standards which you'd associate with Mr Martin.

James Martin Manchester -  Deep fried, Soft Boiled Hens Egg
James Martin Manchester - British Wagu Beef

Our orders were taken in suitable time by our waiter, who was superb throughout. Whilst the weather outside was wintery on this occasion, we were actually well into Spring at this point, with Summer in fact looming, apparently? The menu did however still feel very wintery to us though, containing lots of hearty fayre to warm the cockles on a wet and windy evening. This wasn’t a problem for us though. Id personally eat wintery food all year long, quite happily. How else do you make sure that your Xmas pants fit all year round?

We started in style with the British Wagyu Beef (£10.50), which was presented via Carpaccio format, dressed with a lovely mustard dressing and a few capers. The beef was top quality, and a pleasure to eat, but could have used a little more seasoning and acidity to lift the dish a tad we found. The capers did this when you managed to get hold of one, but you didn’t necessarily get one in every bite. Our deep fried, Soft Boiled Hens Egg (£6.95), however was a real triumph. Perfectly cooked egg, soft in the middle, with lovely texture via the fried, bread-crumbed coating, side-kicked by excellent mushrooms, lifted with a lovely truffle mayonnaise. You'd eat this for breakfast every day, twice on a Sunday. It was also a very pretty dish too, elevating the plate to more than what it was on paper. Great stuff.

For mains, we went for one of our all-time favourite dishes; Braised Ox Cheeks (£16.95). Now Ox cheeks, Pork Cheeks, Cod cheeks, cheeks in general, are a very trendy ingredient these days, which is why their price at the butchers/fishmongers has doubled in the last couple of years. Damned trendy foodie TV shows! Anyway, there's a good reason for this popularity. Cheeks require love and time to prepare and cook, but flavour wise, there isn’t a fillet steak in the land which can stand up to these cuts. The animal which lost is life to provide this meat worked hard to make it so tasty, hence it's only fitting that the dishes which result from all the hard work on all counts, are usually so fantastic.

The James Martin variant came presented on a lovely pearl barley and Chanterelle bed, along with some Jerusalem artichoke. Lots of high end accompaniments to what was once considered a very modest cut of meat. The meat itself came well glazed, and looked fantastic on the plate. Taste wise, it was again very good, but could have used another 30 minutes of braising, just to totally render down all that collagen which makes the cut to luscious to eat once dissolved. Still, a great effort, and we are perhaps being slightly over critical of a dish which as mentioned, is admittedly one of our favourites.

James Martin Manchester - Braised Ox Cheeks

James Martin Manchester - Cumbrian Sirloin Steak

We also opted for the Cumbrian Sirloin Steak (£28), which came with chips, onion rings and a butter of choice. We slapped on the extra Bonemarrow and Truffle sauce too, since it was on the menu and sounded fantastic. Manchester now has a couple of places where you can get a truly good steak for upwards of around £25. We expected a similar level here, as a big deal is made from of steaks via an impressively theatrical 'Meat Market' display room in the dining area, which allows customers to see the steak selection being hung prior to its cooking.

It has to be said that our steak itself was clearly very good quality. Perhaps a touch under seasoned, but salt mills were available on tables, however at this level and price-point I honestly don’t think that customers should have to correct seasoning on their steaks, even if seasoning can be very subjective. The uniformly cut chips were sadly quite soft throughout, and a touch greasy. Still, the dish was generous in portion, and made good use of quality ingredients. Our bottle of Aussie Boomerang Shiraz (£21) paired well with the beef main courses, with its rich spicy notes enhancing the bold flavours on our plates. So, a slightly mixed bag in terms of main courses.

If we had to think about one thing that comes to mind when mentioning James Martin, other than the stereotypical use of vast amounts of butter in everything which he cooks, his pastry skills are probably the second thing which pops up. No doubt pastry with lots of butter? Anyway, pudding was an exciting prospect, due to the renowned pastry excellence.

We opted for the cheese board which came with aerated celery crackers. A novel twist on simply putting a few sticks of celery on a cheeseboard. They worked and were very clever work. It was also good to see our preference of simply putting water biscuits on the cheeseboard. The cheeses were high in quality, but perhaps a few less mainstream choices would have added to the selection, and those on offer did feel a little overly familiar, despite their undoubted quality and more than ample in size.

We went for another of our all-time favourites for the other pudding; Sticky Toffee pudding, which came in a pretty cast iron Staub ramekin, and a side scoop of ice cream. The pudding itself was light, full, and rich. The toffee sauce being as good as you'd expect from a kitchen guided by Chef Martin, and the ice cream contrasting and yet balancing well with the sweet and warm sauce. This dish really hit the spot, and delivered on all expectations. Outstanding, and a cracking way to end the meal.

James Martin Manchester - Cheese Board
James Martin Manchester - Sticky Toffee Pudding

Anyway, we enjoyed James Martin Manchester, and suspect that it will continue to be a local favourite. James Martin is a popular man, and with very good reason. The food is very well presented, the dining room is slick, and the front of house are a great team who really look after their customers in a charming, friendly and efficient manner.

However, even though James Martin isn’t behind the stove apart from during special events, when his name and involvement are so closely attached to a restaurant, cooking standards need upping a tad for us, mainly in the seasoning department, along with the ironing out of a few cooking quibbles. We know our chips in Manchester, and good, hearty, fun, casual food is what we do better than any other city in the land , afterall. - Restaurant Of Manchester (08/5/14 - visited on a Thursday evening)

"worth a gamble"
James Martin Restaurant ~ members' reviews
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Disclaimer: All information correct 02/10/2013. and can not be held responsible for any differences experienced at the premises listed. All images and information 2002-16 Pride Of Manchester