Cheshire Life Luncheon The Second Floor Restaurant Harvey Nichols, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 12:02 30 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:27 20 February 2013
You might expect absolutely fabulous food at this fashion emporium's swish restaurant. Cheshire Life's guests at Harvey Nichols were not disappointed
Of all the prestigious department stores located in central Manchester, few symbolise the city's remarkable recovery from the devastating impact of the IRA bombing of 1996 - the biggest explosive device ever detonated in peacetime on the British mainland - than Harvey Nichols.
For not only is the presence of 'Harvey Nicks' - beloved emporium of Absolutely Fabulous' Bollyswigging Edina and Patsy - an indication of Manchester's rising prosperity, it also sits at the very crossroads of the city's recent history.
The creation of New Cathedral Street, on which the store stands, was the masterstroke in the city's post-bomb Masterplan, linking Manchester's Medieval heart around the cathedral with its retail 'West End' around St Ann's Square for the first time in more than a century.
Guests at Cheshire Life's October luncheon sipping their welcoming Bellini cocktails could see the story laid out before them from the panoramic windows of Harvey Nichols' Second Floor Restaurant.
Exchange Square was buzzing, Manchester's Big Wheel was turning and the venerable Shambles pub - moved piece by piece from the all-but-forgotten dingy concrete precinct demolished to make way for New Cathedral Street - looking as if they'd been always meant to be next door to the mother church.
The chic, contemporary venue - Life Magazines' 2007-8 Manchester Restaurant of the Year - has forged a deserved culinary reputation in recent years. And though Alison Seagrave, one of the best chefs-inresidence currently working in the city, was away, sous chef Stuart Thomson's three exceptional courses betrayed a kitchen operating at the top of its game.
The amuse bouche opener, beetroot sorbet with Stilton crumble and apple crisp, demonstrated skill of the highest order. Our starter proper, thick, juicy medallions of cured Scottish organic salmon with mild mustard dressed new potato and herb salad was exquisite in both looks and flavour, matched to perfection by the first of two individual and characterful wines chosen by Harvey Nichols' hospitality manager Michael Currie from either side of the Pyrenees.
From the Spanish foothills, Marqus de Alella 2006, made from the indigenous Catalan grape pansa blanca with a dash of creamy chardonnay, delivered a deliciously fruity
counterpoint to the richness of the salmon.
From the French side of the mountains, the local petit manseng and gros manseng grapes - main ingredients of the Camin Larreyda AC Jurancon - provided a superb marriage with the main course meltin- he-mouth pork belly. Long something of a 'Cinderella cut', but now the height of culinary fashion, the pork had been slow-roasted to tender perfection and the accompanying wild mushrooms, caramelised apples and baby leeks provided a classic combination.
Dessert, to coin a phrase, was truly 'Ab-Fab'. The wittily monickered trio of boiled sweets comprised delightfully crafted lemon sherbet cheesecake, small but perfectly-formed chocolate lime panna cotta and lovely liquorice blackcurrant jelly; a real palate-pleasing combination of textures and flavours washed down with a playfully light fizz from Piemonte, pink Moscato d'Asti. Luncheon had begun with guests picking up tips from three beauty tables over the aperitifs and concluded, with coffee and petit fours, with Ben Maxfield unveiling the new season's fashion trends.
Edie and Patsy would have been proud.
Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu
Cured Scottish organic salmon, mustard Dressed potatoes and herb salad
Marqus de Alella 2006
Slow roasted pork belly, wild mushrooms, caramelised apples and baby leeks.
Camin Larreyda AC Jurancon.
Trio of boiled sweets
Coffee and petit fours
Harvey Nichols' Second Floor Restaurant Bar Brasserie,
21 New Cathedral Street, Manchester M1 1AD. Tel: 0161 828 8898; www.harveynichols.com
Restaurant open: Mon: noon-6.00pm; Tues- Sat: noon- 10.30pm; Sun: noon-5:00pm. Two courses 30, three courses 40 (vegetarian menu 25 and 32.50)