The French at The Midland, or rather, I should say, Adam Reid at The French, as it is known today, has always seemed like one of those impossibly fancy places that a scruffy food lover like myself with slightly-dirty trainers could never belong.
As a wet behind the ears undergraduate student voraciously reading every Manchester food guide I could get my hands on, it was somewhere I always dreamed of visiting.
Not just for its deep velvet booths and impressively huge, sparkling chandeliers (well, not for that at all, if I’m honest, although they certainly do look stunning), but to experience eating at one of the city’s most famous fine dining restaurants.
It only took me fourteen years to get there – and now that I have been, I am not going to shut up about it.
Newcomers like Climat, Higher Ground, and The Sparrows all deserve the praise they get, and I am among those quick to write them a glowing review. Still, if you ask me, Adam Reid at The French could do with being showered in quite a bit more, so here I am with my sprinkler. Please indulge me.
For those who don’t know the history of The French, in 1974 it made history as the first Manchester restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star.
Back then, it was Chef Gilbert Lefevre at the helm and it really did what it said on the tin – serving opulent plates of escargots, foie gras, and caviar, even committing right down to the menu itself, half of which was printed en français.
The restaurant retained its star for three years, before losing it in 1977, and would go on to have some ups and downs before coming under the stewardship of Simon Rogan in 2013, with its now-Chef Patron Adam Reid working underneath him as Head Chef.
Rogan – already then a proprietor of the Umbel group including L’Enclume, Fera at Claridge’s, and Rogan & Co – famously ended his five-year contract with the hotel two years early after failing to get a Michelin star.
That same year, local lad Adam took on the top dog role and in 2017 re-positioned the offering to reflect his own style – essentially making everything more relaxed.
He dropped the complicated place settings, brought in music so that diners no longer feared dropping their forks, introduced a new chef station in the restaurant, and revised the menu to pay homage to his Lancashire roots.
As the years have gone on, every year we foodies have wondered – would this be the year that Reid, and the restaurant, is finally given Michelin recognition?
Sadly, so far, that has not happened – but, star or not, after dining there last week it does seem something of a travesty that more people aren’t going on about how brilliant the food is here. And the service, for that matter.
Some things have changed at the restaurant again recently. Since February, the kitchen has been headed up by Reid’s new Head Chef Blaise Murphy – another one with an impressive CV that spans some of the best restaurants in the North West.
Having started his career here at seventeen, Blaise has come full circle after two years at Ormskirk’s Moor Hall, and another three with Simon Martin at Mana – aka the Ancoats chef notorious for giving Manchester its first star since the early days of The French.
Returning to the place where it all began, he has spent the past few months working under Reid to devise a refreshed offering packed full of down-to-earth Northern flavours – and their 11-course tasting menu can undoubtedly give Manchester’s trendier newcomers a run for their money.
Think dishes inspired by picky teas, miniature cheese and onion pies, and steaming cups of beef tea served alongside Pollen ‘French malt’ bread and thick pats of beefy butter. Pretentious? Definitely not.
There are also ideas, Blaise tells me, to hopefully host some collaborative pop-up supper clubs in the future, saying: “I’d love to do something with Flawd or Higher Ground.”
Between him and Adam, they are reinventing things once again, and the result is absolutely glorious. Where else, I wonder, can you listen to Supersonic and munch a squid ink cracker topped with whipped roe and pickled red pepper that tastes like a mouthful of patatas bravas?
Other highlights include ‘Yesterday’s dinner’ – made up of two deceptively simple-sounding plates using house-cured cold cuts that, in fact, require hours of preparation behind the scenes, starting with the in-house butchery of whole pork legs, and the filleting and gentle smoking of huge sides of salmon over branches of juniper and applewood.
Plated at the table, these feel special, like a childhood memory on a plate – the Loch Duart salmon served first with pine creme fraiche, chives and homemade dill pickled cucumbers.
Up next, the ham – perhaps the highlight of the night – with shavings of fresh black truffle, wholegrain mustard, homemade Henderson’s relish, and rested egg yolk in a sharp, rich chicken broth first debuted by Adam on the Great British Menu.
Once we get to the bottom we’re instructed to ‘drink it like a ramen broth’, and chuckle as the chef serving it at our table just can’t help but make a joke about Wagamamas as he departs.
Paired with a mixture of low-intervention wines, craft beers, and sakes all carefully selected and served by the ever-friendly Restaurant Manager Karina Kanepe and Assistant Restaurant Manager Alessandra Assuncaodossantos, it’s a magical evening.
In fact, the experience is so far from the stuffy posh hotel restaurant reputation it seems, so unfairly, to have acquired that I almost have to laugh at myself for buying into it.
This is now a place where “it’s more about what’s on the plate than your feet”, Adam tells me. Finally, both I and my trainers can feel at home.
New Michelin Stars to be announced from Manchester in another major coup for the city
The extremely prestigious Michelin Guide has chosen Manchester to host next year’s announcement ceremony.
The restaurant guide awards hospitality businesses with what’s considered by most to be the most reputable accolades in the world – Michelin Stars.
The announcement of which restaurants are receiving new Michelin Stars typically takes place down in London – but they’ve chosen to come to Manchester for 2024.
It’s another major coup for our city and a testament to the city’s ever-evolving cultural scene, joining tomorrow’s Chanel fashion show in the high-end brands hosting events here.
The Michelin Guide confirmed that it would be using Manchester’s iconic Midland Hotel to host the 2024 announcements on 5 February 2024.
Michelin famously snubbed Manchester for decades, with its spotlight passing straight over us the the city remaining star-less for more than 40 years.
So maybe this is their way of making amends (we’ll take it), or it’s alluding to some new stars for our city’s restaurant scene, with tonnes of newcomers making waves in the city.
Restaurants who could be in the running to receive a Michelin Star including The French (which is inside The Midland Hotel), Where the Light Gets In in Stockport, Higher Ground, Erst, and The Sparrows.
The event will also be broadcast live, with the new selection launching immediately after the event on The Michelin Guide website and app.
As well as the Michelin Stars, other awards including Green Stars (celebrating sustainability in the restaurant industry) and Special Awards (celebrating industry professionals) will also be presented.
Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of The MICHELIN Guides, said: “We are honoured to be bringing our celebration of the finest British and Irish gastronomy to the welcoming and ever-evolving city of Manchester.
“The historic Midland Hotel – a long-standing jewel in the city’s architectural crown – is a venue befitting of the occasion. The MICHELIN Guide team are busy preparing an event that will do justice to the exceptional skill, dedication and hard work found across our industry.”
You can get a festive lunch for just 99p from Deliveroo this week… but it involves sprouts
We were going to call this a bit of a Marmite dilemma but we just realised that sprouts already have their own love-hate thing going on; either way, you can sort your lunch from just 99p for the rest of this week through Deliveroo, but it does involve the controversial Christmas dish…
The famous festive food is on almost every dinner table during the holiday period whether the people sat around it like them or not — that’s just the cultural existence this divisive vegetable has enjoyed for centuries — but have you ever heard of a ‘sprout butty’ or, more importantly, would you like to try one?
Deliveroo Editions, the purpose-built delivery-only kitchen service that is popping up all over the UK, are looking to win over sprout-haters this winter by coming up with its own take on the Christmas classic.
It is estimated that around 1.5 million Brits have a phobia of the leafy little round veggie and while more than half of the North West (52%) hate them/think they are the worst part of a Christmas dinner, there’s one kind of food that pretty much everyone loves: a simple sarnie.
With that in mind, Deliveroo had the idea to bring the two together in an effort to reinvent the troublesome green and have created the ‘Christmas Sproutwich’ and it’s exactly what it sounds like and more.
Consisting of homemade sprout focaccia, sprout mayonnaise, a “succulent” sprout stuffing, roasted sprout halves like you’ll see on December 25th, fried sprout shavings and zesty marinated sprout leaves, the sandwich has sprouts in every component and is hoping to elevate their reputation this Christmas.
The beauty of this thing is that it also just goes to show how much you can actually do with the humble little sprout, and with plenty of time to get inspired before the big day too. To be honest, ever since we started cooking them in lots of butter, herbs and bacon, we love the little buggers.
Now, while Deliveroo are obviously not the only people to have put a twist on sprouts or even create a sprout sandwich, even — Bundobust’s sprout butties and bhajis are legendary and have just returned for their 2023 Christmas menu — we never thought we’d come across ‘sprout mayo’. It’s already earned some fans though:
While they do get a bad rep from time to time, the latest research from the delivery service suggests that roughly three in five (62%) North Westerners believe a Christmas dinner isn’t complete without sprouts and although the majority of us (36%) hate them, around 32% love them.
The question is, will you love the Christmas Sproutwich? You can order yours just in time for your dinner break — or whenever you like, to be honest, we’re not the boss of you — for just 99p via the app or by simply typing in ‘Deliveroo Christmas Sproutwich’ online HERE.
Available in just a few cities (Manchester being one of them) and lasting only until Friday, 8 December, this could be the moment you switch sides in the great sprout debate. Let us know your verdict as well; we want to see just how far you sprout love/adventurous appetites go.
This recent creative promotion isn’t the only one we’re big fans of either, as an Ancoats institution is holding a great offer in aid of those in need this winter.