I was given the opportunity to try out Manchester Malmaison’s Sunday offering of ‘Toast to the Roast’, housed in their recently opened Smoak Bar & Grill. Never one to pass up on an opportunity to dine in one of Manchester’s premier hotels, myself and a friend opted for an early time slot and enjoyed a drink at their impressive bar arrangement until our table was ready.
Positioned in the corner, overlooking a long open planned room consisting of booths, singular tables and comfy chairs, we were offered a choice of Spanish Rey Viejo red or white wine whilst we browsed their Sunday menu. A choice of either Slow Roasted Plum Tomato Soup or Chicken Liver Parfait to start, with Roast Topside of Beef with Red Wine Gravy, Roast Pork with Red Wine Gravy or Baked Gnocchi Sorentina with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella – all served with roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables and Yorkshire pudding as a main. We both opted for the parfait to start, whilst my friend went for the roast pork, and myself the roast beef for our mains.
Despite at the time their only being two tables in, the musical ambience created a good atmosphere as we chatted over a glass of the Spanish red – a dark nose with juicy red berries moving to a mix of refreshing cherries and raspberries on the palate. Our starters soon arrived, set out on a long wooden board with a small jam jar of chicken liver pâté nestled next to four slices of toasted brioche and a dish of raisin chutney. A selection of bread was also laid out on a separate wooden slab to accompany. A great combination to start, with the flavours of the pâté and raisin chutney combining well as we made our way through our first course. But no sooner had our starters been taken away, our mains were being delivered, with Malmaison stamped plates carrying our choice of meat and Yorkshire pudding, hot skillet of carrots and runner beans and a gravy boat each to drizzle red wine gravy to our hearts content. With the pork piping hot, and the beef looking like perfection, we duly tucked in whilst sipping our way through the bottle of red.
The restaurant around us was filling up nicely, with a mixture of families, couples and of course being Mothers Day, a fair few Mothers. This didn’t seem to faze any of the staff, and their were plenty to go around as no problem seemed too small, and no customer left out. As for ourselves, clean plates were taken and followed with the placing of the desert menu. Well it would be rude not to take a look!
I decided to go for the Valrhona Chocolate Fondant with White Chocolate Ice Cream, but almost regretted it when i saw what arrived for my friend – a selection of artisan cheese, crackers & chutney. Carried on a tray that needed its own set of legs to stand, twelve cheeses were on offer, with different chutney and biscuits to make a spectacle that even had the rest of the restaurant talking! Served by a waiter who explained what each cheese offered (I would name them, but I really wouldn’t be able to remember!), six small pieces were placed on a piece of slate, whilst my piping hot chocolate fondant arrived with a ball of ice cream placed delicately on a split strawberry and finished with a dusting of icing sugar. A desert that wasn’t too rich, but instead quite light, with the ice cream there to sooth the palate.
After spending a good two hours (which flew by) we finished the wine, complimented the staff and high service we had received and headed off to the rest of the day – full, yet still buzzing from seeing the Malmaison set the bar for cheese platters everywhere!
£15 per person is money well spent. Although a slimmed down menu for the day, there were still options I could have easily gone for instead, with all food piping hot, well cooked, very well presented and faultless service. I’ve recommended the Smoak Bar & Grill before, and he himself has come away with nothing but a fantastic experience. Consistency is the key.