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Food profile - Pier Eight restaurant, The Lowry, Salford Quays

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 September 2016

On Oliver Thomas's menu at Pier Eight at The Lowry arts centre

On Oliver Thomas's menu at Pier Eight at The Lowry arts centre

not Archant

We went to The Lowry theatre and witnessed a masterpiece in three acts...and the play wasn’t bad either, writes Louise Allen-Taylor

Oliver Thomas, Executive Head Chef, Pier Eight, The Lowry arts centreOliver Thomas, Executive Head Chef, Pier Eight, The Lowry arts centre

Eating to a deadline. It’s not the gourmand’s way is it? Pre-theatre dining always has that pragmatic air of refuelling about it: starter, main, pud....quick, drink up, it’s curtain up in ten minutes!

So here’s a tip. Next time you go to the theatre, seek out the Pier Eight restaurant at The Lowry in Salford Quays, take your time over the meal and simply don’t bother going to a show. Because this is a surprisingly good restaurant in a striking setting and you’ll want to take your time.

The Pier Eight bar and restaurant were given a £3m overhaul late last year, opening up what was a slightly cramped space and adding some arty decor - a ‘tree’ with cotton leaves, a central pillar resembling a Star Trek transporter deck - and funky furniture, including ‘70s-style bucket seats as well as some enticing booths. Lots of the tables have views across the water and the whole room has a really airy feel to it now.

There is a more comprehensive dinner menu, but executive head chef Oliver Thomas’s lunch and early dinner offer - 12noon-2.30pm daily and 5pm-7pm when there is a show in the main theatres - is my kind of menu: just a few intriguing dishes, described concisely, but not enigmatically. Pricing is equally simple: £22 for two courses, £27 for three with a few supplements thrown in.

Striking, contemporary styling inside Pier Eight restaurant at The Lowry arts centreStriking, contemporary styling inside Pier Eight restaurant at The Lowry arts centre

My starter of smoked tomato soup arrives as a bowl of little chorizo croutons and a blob of crème fraîche over which the thick soup is poured, with a little theatre, at the table. It’s accompanied by a little disc of focaccia topped with red onion, and a tiny bowl of basil oil, and it’s one of the best tomato soups I’ve ever tasted - deep tangy, smoky flavours and sweetness combining gloriously.

Our other starter is a chicken and sweet pepper terrine (a £1 supplement) with herb salad, a very more-ish fig chutney and some rock hard rye bread toast.

A main of lamb rump (£5 supplement) with crushed new potatoes, warm pea salad and salsa verde is a perfect summer dish, fresh and vital.

The chunky chips we order as a side (£3) come in handy for dipping in the beautiful watercress sauce which accompanies our other main of roast sea trout with steamed mussels, baby fennel and gnocchi.

They’ve saved the best for last, because my pud of vanilla cheesecake with blueberry compote, mint and crunchy little parma violets doesn’t just taste gorgeous, it also looks like a work of art.

We are fed and watered in time for curtain-up, but tonight, frankly, it’s not the show but the meal which gets the rave reviews. w

Pier Eight, The Lowry, Salford Quays M50 3AZ, tel 0161 876 2121, www.piereightrestaurant.co.uk

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