The sign for James Martin ManchesterDespite my inexplicable guilt-response when confronted with any type of authority, I made it through casino security with only a fleeting feeling that I’d stolen something.

I was looking forward to returning to James Martin Manchester. So when I received an invitation to try their January special, a six course taster menu priced at £30, my answer was a resounding, “Yes!”

After short walk through the Manchester 235 casino – which had the appeal of a cautionary tale at a gamblers’ anonymous meeting – I arrived at the restaurant and waited for my first course to be placed in front of me. And what an amazing first course it was; the Cauliflower and truffle veloute with toasted rice had a smooth foamy texture and a wonderful smoky taste of truffle. I could’ve eaten a vat of it.

The second course, 45 Degree confit salmon, Yorkshire forced rhubarb and pickled mooli, was interesting in that I wasn’t sure whether I’d like lukewarm (hence name ’45 degrees’) salmon, but it was moist, tender and delicious. My only complaint – and a small one at that – was that the vanilla mayonnaise wasn’t a comfortable fit for the other ingredients.

The Smoked cod cheek, braised short rib with red wine tartare dressing was next. Although the cod was slightly overcooked, the short rib was flavourful and the dish, as a whole, had a pleasing savour. Not a bad dish, by any standard, but possibly my least favourite of the six.

The Herdwick lamb, roasted rump, slow cooked belly with Jerusalem artichoke was the largest of the six courses. Tender, perfectly cooked lamb and pearl barley scattered with crispy Jerusalem artichoke crisps. Amazing.

We moved into the dessert territory with Yellison goat’s curd, beetroot and anise poached pear. An accomplished pre-desert dish and a delicious transition to the sweet-course.

The Dark chocolate, sable, pistachio and yogurt sorbet, was a perfect balance of rich chocolate and a slightly sharp yoghurt sorbet. A great finish to the taster menu.

James Martin Manchester is trialling the taster menu, which changes daily, throughout January. I hope that it has the success it so richly deserves as the chefs’ love of experimentation really comes across in the dishes. When you consider the low price and high quality of the food, the six-course taster menu (which includes a house drink) is incredible value for money. I can’t wait for my next visit.


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