Sat on the banks of the River Irwell, the Lowry hotel has long been a haunt of the stars.
One of the city centre’s only 5-star hotels, it is home to the most exclusive (and expensive) penthouse suite in the city. But today, we’re here to talk about its restaurant offering.
Headed up by chef Dave Ashton, who has worked alongside Aiden Bryne and other prominent chefs in two- and three- rosette restaurants, the 2 AA rosette River restaurant has long held a stellar reputation in the city as a go-to place for special occasion dining.
Following a revamp of its dining space in the autumn of 2019, it’s even more swanky. Gone is the all-white look of days prior, in its place a new design inspired by the hotel’s riverside setting.
Burnt orange, dusky pink and terracotta tones mix with hues of blue and green, whilst big squishy seats and deep booths provide the ultimate comfort for a long, luxurious lunch or dinner.
When we visit, it’s a chilly November evening and the daylight is already long gone – meaning that whilst we can’t fully appreciate the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out across the water, we still manage to drink in the twinkling lights of the city as we enter through the bar.
After leaving our heavy coats with the host, we sit down to browse Ashton’s newest offering: The River Restaurant’s autumn menu.
It’s always a great sign when you look down at a menu and feel overwhelmed by choice – or at least, I think so. And that’s what happens here. There are almost too many tempting-sounding dishes to choose from, leaving me to think that I could quite happily return and polish off the rest of the menu another time.
After deliberating with my dining partner, who agrees we’re spoilt for choice, we settle on starters of miso crab and squab pigeon followed by cured sea trout and an indulgent-sounding ‘surf and turf’ combination.
The agreement we make between us is this: we will share it all, save missing out.
The starters come out swiftly and do not disappoint. My miso crab is served as a terrine, topped with a sort-of red, edible doily. Sandwiched between the two are pieces of pickled lemon, samphire and a lump of slowly-melting lemon sorbet – adding a gorgeous citrus tang that cuts right through the fishiness of the fresh crab.
The squab pigeon, meanwhile, arrives with a hearty helping of truffled foam and screams game season. Rich flavours of pear, hazelnut and artichoke complement the equally-rich pink breast meat and confit leg. A triumph.
Onto the mains, and the star of the show has to be the 6oz fillet steak and Gambaro Rosso prawn dish. Its arrival gives me instant food envy and makes me very glad I’ve already brokered a deal to share.
The steak, cooked as the chef recommends it, comes out pinker-than-pink and soft as butter. Sat on a bed of greens and topped with tiny slivers of crunchy, tangy pickled onion, on the side sits a giant helping of truffle mash and a swirl of red wine garlic puree.
If you’re going for a special occasion, order this. The Sicilian red prawn itself was a bit scrawny, but in every other way, the whole plate is an absolute delight and well worth the £40 price tag.
My cured sea trout is also a hit. The crab sauce works beautifully with the fillet itself, whilst a healthy dose of sea veg heaped on top adds texture and depth to the plate as a whole.
The only fault I can make here is the crushed squash, which jars texturally – possibly a little undercooked, it is a bit too al dente for me in some places.
Finishing off with something sweet, I opt for the sticky date cake with caramelised banana, rum and clotted cream ice cream. This proves to be the best part of the meal, the crunchy-sweet topping of the banana together with the soft and sticky fruit sponge proves a heavenly combination.
My partner, meanwhile, chooses the Manjari milk chocolate dessert. Served with malted milk and espresso ice, it comes out in jagged slithers and is equally delightful.
Our charming server confides that we’ve made an excellent decision – as it turns out, we picked her two favourite desserts.
All in all, there’s very little to fault and much to praise at the new and improved 2 AA Rosette River restaurant.
When I last spoke to chef Ashton he told us that he was gunning for 3 AA Rosettes- and, although he may have missed out on that particular gong this year, it seems like that goal is still very much in sight.
Feature image – The Manc Group.
To view the full autumnal menu, click here.. To make a reservation at the River restaurant at The Lowry, click here.
Food & Drink
New survey reveals one in six Brits would rather have a curry than a Christmas dinner
One in six Brits would apparently rather have a curry on Christmas Day in place of a traditional roast dinner, a new survey has revealed.
With December just a few days away now, it won’t be long before we all sit down to tuck into what is always one of the biggest and heartiest meals of the whole year – but, if the results of a new survey is anything to go by, for a good chunk of Brits, this year’s Christmas feast won’t be the typical roast turkey that tradition’s always called for.
Instead, one in six would rather stray off the beaten track and opt for an Indian instead.
After a shocking survey by Next revealed last year that more than 12 million Brits think Yorkshire puddings belong with your Christmas dinner, around 1,000 UK adults have been polled by instatprint this time around to discover what’s making it on the festive feasting plate in just a few weeks time.
And, as to be expected, some weird and wonderful food combinations feature on the list, with over a third of Brits apparently planning on having sausages instead of the usual Christmas meats, and chips and beans also seem to be on the menu for the fussier eaters among us too.
Chicken nuggets, eggs, caviar, goat’s cheese, haggis, and chimichurri were some of the other rogue choices given by some of the survey respondents.
Then, when it comes to the accompanying sides to the main event, 11% even revealed they plan on tucking into some macaroni cheese with their Christmas dinner this year, with another 11% sharing that mushy peas are a must on their plate too.
17% of Brits will be enjoying mustard, 13% will be squirting ketchup on their roast, and 7% will apparently be enjoying a dollop of mayonnaise too.
But while some clearly like to freestyle their Christmas dinner and pop whatever they fancy on the plate, others are apparently ditching the norm all together, as the survey has revealed that only half of Brits are set on having their traditional Christmas dinner this year.
As mentioned, almost one in six would much rather tuck into an Indian curry, but not only that, 6% of us would rather have a Chinese, 5% would enjoy Mexican, and another 5% would opt for tapas if it was an option too.
Five golden tickets with massive prizes are being hidden in cakes in Manchester
A Manchester cafe is giving away massive prizes in a Willy Wonka-style giveaway, with golden tickets hidden in its cakes.
Loaf MCR, which has sites on Oxford Street, Affinity Living, and in Selfridges Trafford Centre, will be hiding the golden tickets beneath its mini loaf cakes.
Anyone lucky enough to find one will win prizes including two tickets to see Jason Manford with a chance to meet him, a meal for four at Bundobust, and a Birthday Party Cake Package worth £200 from Loaf.
The golden tickets are going to be hiding underneath Loaf’s Willy Wonka-inspired special loaf, a super-chocolatey chocolate sponge with a smooth ganache centre and a white chocolate-infused buttercream.
The cake is then topped with colourful sweets inspired by Roald Dahl’s classic tale, like a swirly lollipop, fizzy sweets, popping candy and pink mushroom foams.
A golden ticket sticker will be hidden in five of the £4.50 loaf cakes between Monday 27 November and Sunday 10 December.
Loaf MCR wants to spread a little festive cheer as Christmas approaches and is offering Mancs five chances to win big.
As well as the three massive prizes already announced, there are still two top-secret rewards to be revealed.
Aiden Ryan, founder of Loaf MCR, said: “We love to play with nostalgia and Willy Wonka gives just that! We love that we can infuse Christmas with a little bit of magic.
“At Loaf, we believe in giving people great experiences, and what better way than to start the Festive season with a treasure hunt?
“We’ve partnered with some great Manchester businesses to make this happen!”
There’ll be a limited number of the special-edition Willy Wonka loaf cakes available.
Once all five golden tickets have been found, there’ll be one last chance to win ‘The Golden Key’, which will get you free coffee and cake from Loaf MCR for a year.
But you won’t be able to find the golden key through cake – this prize will be given to someone nominated by the community of Manchester, and will reward someone who deserves something special this Christmas.
Prizes including in the Loaf MCR Willy Wonka giveaway
A Birthday Party Cake Package worth £200 from Loaf MCR, including 50 mini loaf cakes and a birthday cake.
Ultimate Christmas Dinner for four at Bundobust, Indian street food and craft beer specialists, to taste their festive menu. (Yes, your first drink on the house too!)
Two tickets to see Manchester’s favourite comedian Jason Manford live at the AO Arena and a meet and greet.
Two more prizes to be revealed this week…
The Loaf MCR x Willy Wonka giveaway will run from Monday 27 November until Sunday 10 December.