Food review - The River Bar and Grill, The Lowry Hotel, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 June 2014
Steak fan Dean Bowman finds that tailoring the menu to what people want is a recipe for success
Like the iconic artist whose paintings of matchstick men and dogs have become synonymous with the city, the hotel that bears his name is the only choice for discerning travellers looking to bed down in the heart of Manchester.
Now the Lowry’s restaurant has raised its game to reflect the hotel’s growing accolades, having recently re-launched as the The River Bar and Grill under executive head chef Andrew Wilkie. Since it opened in 2001, steaks and grill items have accounted for 75 per cent of main courses sold at the hotel, so concentrating their efforts on what people clearly love is a fine idea. As was the choice of installing a Josper Grill, one of the best indoor grills available, not to mention the hottest with an upper temperature range around a whopping 350 degrees centigrade. As a steak fan I couldn’t resist putting it through its paces.
What I found in the spacious, well lit restaurant (the work of designer Olga Polizzi) with great views over the River Irwell and its elegant modern bridge, was little short of a shrine dedicated to beef. Cuts on offer include permanent favourites the rib eye, sirloin and flat iron, but the hungriest of diners can feast on the colossal 400g cote de boeuf, which in the end proved too much for our group.
My rib eye was more than a match for my appetite when it arrived accompanied by French fries, crispy onion rings and rich peppercorn sauce. The texture of the meat was beautifully buttery and the flavour had been infused with the taste of charcoal from the grill, making it one of the best steak experiences I can recall.
The starter of dressed east coast crab accompanied by olive oil mayonnaise was the perfect palette primer with its subtle, zingy flavours, and hinted at the restaurant’s other speciality: sea food. Anglesey sea bass, Usan lobster and North Sea lemon sole offset the meatiness of the menu perfectly.
Following it all I ordered a vanilla creme brulee from a menu of simple, staple desserts that set another culinary bar. It capitalised on the best part of my favourite dessert, the crunchy sugary top layer, by being served in a shallow wide dish to maximise the caramelised surface area, under which was a deliciously velvety payload of vanilla.
Like the steak the brulee is a perfect embodiment of the restaurant’s ethos: simple food sourced from the finest ingredients and cooked to perfection with the best technology. The prices are pretty reasonable for such good quality fare, but be warned: vegetarians are likely to go home hungry. n
The River Bar and Grill, The Lowry Hotel, 50 Dearmans Place, Chapel Wharf, Manchester M3 5LH. 0161 827 4041, www.theriverrestaurant.com.