Last weekend I crossed the Pennines with my friend Lucy in tow, for the norths first coffee festival – Cup North. It was a two day event showcasing some of the country’s best coffee roasteries/baristas/distributers/enthusiasts. After enjoying a few hours tasting coffee, chatting about coffee and eating some lovely street food snacks organised by Grub MCR (Comida, Noisette Bakehouse and BarnHouse Bistro) we left suitably caffeinated to enjoy the rest of our Saturday.
A few of those hours were whiled away sipping beautiful cocktails before heading out to dinner. This had been planned months earlier after reading good things about Simon Rogan’s Mr Cooper’s House & Garden at The Midland Hotel.
The restaurants name comes from a Mr Cooper, whose house and garden was once on the site that the current restaurant is on. In terms of the dining rooms interior, it’s a little bit like a garden brought indoors, there’s even a tree with fake leaves, some sort of pergola I think which I did find a little odd, but hey ho, if that’s the concept their going for then so be it.
The menu is more accessible in terms of price and the style of dishes compared to L’Enclume, which with its 2-starred status is high end, where this place is more relaxed, yet still want to give a fine dining experience. Apologies for the photos again, we were sat under the branches of a tree, so our dishes were often covered by shadows from leaves.
I can only talk about my dishes alone, for my starter there were three meatballs cooked pink, our server had pointed this out on ordering. They were all the better for it too as they were so succulent and juicy. The tzatziki was light and frothy, and the apricot jam was thick and chunky, its jammy combination of sweet yet sharp tang didn’t overpower the meat, very much complementing it. Shame there was only three a portion as I polished them off in no time at all.
Starters done, next up the main course! I quite fancied a number of the dishes off the menu, but I felt like keeping it light so went for sea bass. Whilst my friend was making all the right sounds next to me, loving her lamb dish, I thought my dish of citrus brined sea bass was excellent. A highly enjoyable dish on many levels…sea bass with crisp skin – check, cassoulet with punchy, smoky flavours – check, crisp fried bread – check, salty shrimps – check. I just wished the sea bass was bigger but I’m greedy. But saying that neither of us were full from our meal, more like nicely comfortable which was probably just right.
It was a lovely meal which set us back £78.65 with service charge.
Food: Superbly cooked food, a menu with lots of interesting ingredients and deliciously sounding dishes.
Service: Spot on service, lovely and attentive staff, there when needed. A formal dining experience with a sense of informality if you know what I mean.
Atmosphere: it’s a popular spot so this provides a definite buzz about the place, whether that be staff doing their job or chatter from tables. Never at one time was it uncomfortable or annoying.Mr Cooper’s House & Garden The Midland Hotel Peter Street Manchester M60 2DS 0161 932 4128 http://www.mrcoopershouseandgarden.co.uk