I think that Simon Rogan might be my favourite chef which I am sure that he is delighted about. Clearly, if I am the type of overwhelmingly pretentious person who thinks that having a favourite chef is an actual thing, I am a fan worth having.
If you’ve ever eaten at his restaurants though, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he is someone whose every dish is a paean to the particular qualities of its component parts. Sorry, that is an appallingly written sentence in praise of food that is anything but. It sounds like it should be obvious that ingredients are the focal point of any plate but too often, especially in very modern restaurants, technique seems to have supplanted them as king, and the foams and gels and spheres and whatnots just end up adding layers of obfuscation that gets in the way of the natural flavours and texture. Simon Rogan can do all the whatnots, but never at the expense of the wonderful ingredients he is using, many of which comes from his own dedicated farm in Cartmel. And while The French, situated as it is in a busy central Manchester hotel, does not have a farm of its own, the hostess did tell us that they have put poly tunnels up on the roof to grow herbs and vegetables to supply to the kitchen. Commendable stuff.
The choice for dinner is simple - six or ten courses. OBVIOUSLY we opted for ten because we are greedy and covetous. There was some definite loosening of belts around the halfway point and we did not so much walk as roll out of there but nearly every mouthful was worth the discomfort.
I say nearly because, in an unusual turn of events, D took violently against one of the dishes, to the extent that he just refused to eat it. This was the final dessert course - the "Lancashire coals" (or toasted liquorice cake) with fennel. It was very, very heavy on the aniseed and although I didn't hate it, it is not something I would be in a terrible hurry to eat again.
|The offending "Lancashire coals"|
|Egg, veg and mustard!|
|Hake, cauliflower, mussels!|
The Midland Hotel
0161 236 3333