Cheshire Life Luncheon - Vermilion Restaurant and Cinnabar, Manchester

PUBLISHED: 22:42 11 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:20 20 February 2013

Vermilion Cinnabar interior

Vermilion Cinnabar interior

Believe me, there's a genuine 'wow' factor to the décor of Vermilion restaurant. And the food is quite something too<br/>WORDS BY RAY KING<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY Kirsty Thompson

The story of east Manchester these last three or four decades has been a fascinating one. The former workshop of the world, supplying locomotives, trucks and diesel engines around the globe - powered by steel and coal produced locally - collapsed in a short space of time.

Latterly the massive regeneration programme, still very much a work in progress, has delivered SportCity; at its heart the City of Manchester Stadium, built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and now home to the (allegedly) richest football club on the planet, Manchester City.

Millions of pounds more were promised with the proposed super casino earmarked for the area, only for Gordon Brown to have a change of heart and scrap the idea. But the political roll of the dice that put paid to the casino project served only to spur on the creators of another grand design to provide east Manchester with a more than a splash of glamour. You betcha more than five million pounds worth!

Vermilion Restaurant and Cinnabar, housed in a striking white building just off Hulme Hall Road, lays justifiable claim to be the most luxurious restaurant and bar in Manchester. The opulent and the term is no exaggeration three-storey venue was designed by the house of Miguel Cancio Martins, creator of the famous Buddha Bar and Man Ray in Paris and the Alain Ducasse Crystal Restaurant in Marrakech), combining stunning ultra-modern architectural features with beautiful Asian antiquities.

Guests at Cheshire Lifes December luncheon who gathered amid the burnt orange and red hues of Cinnabar for welcoming flutes of Moet and Chandon Brut Champagne could only marvel at the eye-popping multitude of elegant paper lampshades and dramatic sculpture of Buddha heads descending into Vermilion Restaurant on the floor below.

We wanted to create something special and unique, said general manager Manzur Iqbal, whose father, Iqbal Ahmed, who joined Cheshire Lifes guests, is chairman of Seamark plc, one of the worlds leading food distributors. The furnishings were sourced from 26 different counties; we wanted to create the wow factor. Wow.

The scale of Cinnabar is striking; the 150-seat cocktail bar (with room for another 400 standing) offers exclusive cocoon shaped beds for table service from an extensive list of drinks and features the Abacus Gallery, a glamorous function room designed for staging the most impressive of events.

Vermilion is equally impressive, its 200 seats arranged among geometrically patterned screens, cleverly providing intimacy in a large space, yet affording views of the open kitchen by Ken Winch, designer of Hakkasan. This the domain of Chatchai Jamjang, one of Thailands best respected chefs whose menus present an array of exotic south east Asian, Indian and Japanese fusion cuisine, showcased to great effect over the festive season with a wide choice of celebration banquets alongside the regular a la carte choices.

Our December luncheon menu certainly had a festive feel. We began with a starter of delicately fashioned sushi roll with prawns and slivers of avocado and red caviar, traditionally served with soy-based dipping sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger. South Africa provided the wines throughout, the opening selection being vibrantly fresh SAAM Mountain Sauvignon Blanc from the Paarl region of the Cape.

Ive always loved Thai duck dishes, more commonly with red curry; our main course at Vermilion provided a delicious variation on the theme. Grilled marinated Barbary duck breast came thickly sliced in a wonderfully flavourful stick sweet tamarind sauce spiked with the subtle heat of dried red chillies, served simply with a timbale of egg fried rice and green vegetables. Spice always presents a formidable challenge to wine, but the accompanying red SAAM Mountain cabernet sauvignon, again from the Paarl region stood up remarkably well, showing classy, well-structured berry fruit.

We rounded off in style with agreeably fruity mango cheesecake with lovely vanilla ice cream, partnered by the rich, grape and honeysuckle flavours of Rhona Muscadel, made by one of the giants of South African wine-making, Graham Beck, in the Robertson district.

Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu

To start
Sushi roll with prawn avocado
SAAM Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Paarl South Africa
To continue
Grilled marinated Barbary duck breast, sweet Tamarind sauce, egg fried rice
SAAM Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Paarl South Africa
To finish
Mango cheesecake, vanilla ice cream
Graham Beck Rhona Muscadel, Robertson South Africa

Fact file
Vermilion Restaurant and Cinnabar, Lord North Street/Hulme Hall Lane, Manchester M40 8ADTel: 0161 202 0055;
Vermilion Restaurant a la carte: salads from 5.50; starters from 5.50; main courses from 9.50 (vegetarian from 7.50); desserts from 5. Set menus from 20 per person (vegetarian from 18pp). Festive menus from 20 per person.
Vermilion Thai Cooking School runs every Saturday.

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