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The French Restaurant Manchester
Adam Reid At The French Manchester
AddressMidland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS
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Adam Reid At The French Reviews
Restaurants Of Manchester (Saturday 8th June 2019)
 
Adam Reid At The French Review

Key: 5 stars = World Class!   4 stars = FANTASTIC   3 stars = GOOD   2 stars = OK   1 star = Poor

 
Decor & Ambience World Class
Positives
Arguably the city's grandest, and unarguably most historic hotel, is The Midland.  Every Manc knows it.  It's as Mancunian as The Happy Mondays going to Old Trafford, dressed in Pretty Green whilst drinking Vimto.  The dining room itself is palatial, due to its 1903 date of birth.  Gone though is the old school grandeur and pomp, from the days when The Beatles were famously turned away due to not being correctly attired.  Actually, they were obviously(!) turned away simply for being from the other end of the M62.  The room is now nuanced with modern, darker colour schemes, better lighting, and is without question a smart space, in keeping with the current style of Chef Reid.
Positives
We've done this bit to death for years on end now, but, that wood effect carpet, harking back to the Rogan days when they tried to embed a green, countryside feel into a 100 year old, grand-feeling room, which just never worked.  At this stage of the blurb, I usually say 'You don’t notice it after a while', but the fact that every time we do a write up after visiting The French, the carpet unfalteringly gets a mention, tells you that I'm utterly lying.
 
Adam Reid At The French Review
'From The Beatles to Oasis' & 'Northern Soul'
 
 
Price World Class
Positives
People often think that food on this level is expensive, and it is.  However, is it good value?  Yes, it still can be. Think about it logically for a second. Pretty much everything you eat is scratch made by top pros, using expensive produce, and they only cater for a fairly small number of people every service.  Quality produce costs a lot of money, and staff wages are expensive.  So are the bills at this grand old building.

On this visit, we paid £85 for the GBM menu.  Now sure, that's about 20 notes a course.  But how much do you pay for a bowl of pasta in a high street chain?  About £12 for something which was probably made centrally?  Which is better value?  You get what you pay for most of the time, and gross profit percentages are probably lower at places like The French than they are in most high street chains.  Expensive can still be good value.
Positives
A big point-loser in top end places is the wine mark ups, as it's an easy money spinner with much less expense and manpower (sorry Sommeliers!), when compared to what comes out of the kitchen.  We recently came across a London dining room with an eye watering 13x mark-up on a bottle of wine.  Ludicrous.  No such northern mickey taking here, but still a chunky north of 5x mark-up on many bottles.  Saying that, even 4x is becoming quite normal these days and these are quality bottles, served by pros.  I'm definitely northern in frugality as middle age sets in.
 
Adam Reid At The French Review
'Comfort Food Sounds Good'
 
 
Service World Class
Positives
Simply put, there is no better front of house anywhere in the region, including at our dual starred big boys.  Kamila; recently nominated as GQ's best front of house boss, runs her dining room with a fine toothed comb, whilst managing to include key elements of fun and a total lack of pomp.  'Casual Fine Dining' isn’t a trendy term that I'm fond of, as it's usually just a way of reassuring green punters that you won't get patronised if you don’t understand the wine list or mispronounce that French cheese that you've never seen in the supermarket.  It never really happens in 2019 anyway though, despite people's fears which are mainly borne from unfamiliarity.  You get more attitude and stiffness from staff in high end shops than you do from the guys at most top end dining rooms, despite the fears. 

Service at The French is pinpoint accurate and well directed, yet still Manchester friendly.  Which as we know, is the best kind of friendly.  This is one of only 2 dining rooms on the planet at any level who've ever consistently remembered to reset my sidekick's cutlery in a left handed format between multiple courses.  Little details all amount to creating something special.
Positives
Bring back the handbag table hooks.  Not my manly opinion, honestly.  I've just been told to include it by the Editor.
 
Adam Reid At The French Review
'Comfort Food Sounds Good'
 
 
Food & Drink World Class
Positives
So, the most important bit; was Adam's GBM music-themed menu an Oasis of a chart topper, or a Rick Astley-esque one hit wonder? 

Starter was a bigger portioned version of a dish that's been on the regular tasting menu for a while.  For GBM it's renamed as 'From The Beatles to Oasis', aka 'tater 'ash.  We thought it was the best dish in Mcr last year so already know it inside out.  Bags of flavour, eats really well, and an absolute lesson in simple accuracy and ideal balance meeting masses of flavour, not to mention being a modern rendition of a dish which holds fond memories for any working-class northerner (8/10). 

'Northern Soul' was the fish course, one which the TV judges didn’t rate massively, for some bizarre reason.  Adam replaced the polenta cod cheek coating with batter on their advice. On-point almond milk poached and rolled cod loin, sat on some 'lightly' buttered leeks, with a lovely butter sauce that's boosted my cholesterol nicely, added with the amazing textural pop of some salty roe. All in all though, a lovely dish with strong classic flavours (9/10).

'Comfort Food Sounds Good', was this year's winning GBM main course, and you can see why.  Taking you back to a family roast, sat around the dining table on Sunday afternoon, possibly with some music on in the background to force that brief in again.  Presented at the table as a whole Rhug Estate sourced, top quality chicken crown. Pre-sliced and re-plated, as to avoid the inevitable customer-DIY butchering.  The leg/thigh meat was made into a stew with corn, barley, turnips, and more buttered leeks, all topped with grated black truffle for that scent of decadence. I'll be ripping this off at home next Sunday afternoon (8/10), only to a 3/10 standard. 

'Madchester, I am the Resurrection' was afters; a treacle pudding, topped with tuile disk, topped with a rocher of clotted cream ice cream, and some explosively scented nitro'ed mint leaves, which made the whole dish pop with freshness and opened up the nostrils a bit. I don’t have a liquid nitrogen tank at home, so couldn't rip this one off anyway, plus I'm terrible at pastry (7/10). 

'The Apple', aka Golden Empire, a dish that's not part of the current GBM menu, is still brilliant and has continued to improve over time..
Positives
Nit-picking; we loved the starter, but half of the dish via the bread is bought in from the admittedly great Pollen, to a custom recipe, and I understand why it's outsourced in such a small kitchen 100%. But still, I'm an in-house baking purist, and it's a dying thing sadly, due to the rise of quality local bakeries.  Its why almost everywhere in town sources bread from one of 4 places. 

For the fish course, we thought that a textured panko would have looked better and also given the dish another layer of mouth feel compared to polenta, or the GBM judge appeasing batter. 

The soon to be signature chicken dish also came with a gravy, which was a bit over the mark in acidity for us. 

And as brilliant as it is; we suspect that the iconic sugar apple needs to gracefully retire whilst on top, as much as I love it and hence have ordered it about 28 times to date.  All good things, and all. 
 
Adam Reid At The French Review
'Madchester, I am the Resurrection' & 'The Apple'
 
 
Overall World Class

Positives
Adam Reid no longer needs any introduction or back story, but still, I'll give you one because I vainly enjoy writing this stuff.  He's now a champion for tasty, proper, yet high-end, northern/Manchester driven flavours, which represent who he is and the city he's from; something which no other Chef does at this level.  Most Chefs just state the overused and generic 'Modern British' as their stated ethos, without ever really having a proper connection with their locality.  No such issues here. Then there's his score of awards, endless accolades, and most importantly, respect from industry peers.   

Add to that 2 wins on GBM, which is broadly when you stop doing it and become a judge, as most people who watch food on tele already know who you are, and exposure is a main point of GBM for rising Chefs.  That in turn puts bums on seats and raises your persona/brand to the point where you can probably just get rich by doing a recipe book. The recognition also rightly or wrongly raises your chances of getting into another little red book, but I won't go over that spent issue again. 

Adam's talent and a maintained down to earth character, plus bags of cheeky boyish charm have won over a score of people through the years.  He's still the same likable bloke who we first met for an interview at L'Enclume in 2013, just after he'd spent an hour chopping gherkins during breakfast service.  It's also likely that your other half, Sister and Mum all fancy him, whether or not they admit it.  

The French is in short, still the best overall dining experience in Manchester, and one of the best in the north as a whole.  Things are moving on in the city, as tends to happen once a top end kitchen pops up.  People move to the city just to work there, from other top places elsewhere, so their skills and experience transfer between kitchens, raising the local game.   

6 years on from The French being first revamped, you see some ex-staff in other high end city places, and Manchester is unrecognisable from 2013 in terms of quality food options.  We have The French to partially thank for that movement.  But we still have a long way to go in terms of normalising a real food loving culture, rather than just a love of eating/drinking out, and there's a massive difference.  But I still have hopes for that happening before high cholesterol retires me.  

And who doesn’t love a 'tater 'ash in these parts?  You owe it to yourself to experience The French.  
Positives
I'm not going to waste your time or pamper my ego by putting anything much in this section to be honest.  It's not cheap which makes it inaccessible to most people, informal or not, and top end dining isn’t for all tastes anyway. That's all stating the obvious though really.  Do yourself a favour, and if you're still reading at this point, then just go.  And order the Apple in case it does actually disappear!. 
 


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