Restaurant review - Opus One, Radisson Blu Edwardian, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 15:15 12 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:06 05 April 2013
Harmony is the key at this slick Manchester hotel with a musical past. Words by Dean Bowman
The Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel, housed in Manchesters iconic Free Trade Hall, has inherited an impressive history.
Built in 1853 to commemorate the repeal of the Corn Laws, the building played a key role in the emergence of the Labour and womens suffrage movements. More recently the building played host to several key musical events including Bob Dylans first electric gig, Pink Floyds premier of Dark Side of the Moon, and the Sex Pistols launching the Punk era, not to mention being home to the legendary Hall orchestra for a century and a half. No wonder Radissons restaurants are named Opus and Alto in honour of this musical heritage.
With music and politics covered, Radisson are now hoping to make the building a famous culinary destination. Opus One is a lavish space with an incredibly moody atmosphere.
Modernist red chandeliers wrap around old fashioned pillars, throwing ruby light on the black lacquered surfaces. The decadent decor and furnishings, including crocodile hide chairs, somehow manage to be both relaxing and stimulating, whilst completely avoiding pretention.
Opus One has a similarly unstuffy attitude to its food with its market menu changing frequently along with the seasons, and offering diners the freshest local ingredients, some of which are even sourced from the hotels own rooftop herb and vegetable garden. These ingredients are given an inventive twist by Head Chef Neil Armstrong who makes a giant leap for British cuisine.
My meal included a starter of delicate Brixham crab and lobster cakes accompanied by fresh salsa and green herb mayonnaise. This primed the palate for the main, a sumptuously rich and deliciously tender seared duck breast with an elegantly sculpted tower of fondant potato subtly flavoured with garlic and rosemary.
The rich tastes on display were complimented by some spiced plums. What better way to finish the meal than with the signature dessert A Taste of Manchester? This quirky medley of Vimto flavoured parfait, miniature Eccles cake and berry smoothie demonstrated the establishments playful side.
After stuffing yourself with all that great food, you can hang out in the hotels chic new champagne bar, Opus Reserve, which offers a wide range of bubble infused delights which you can sip whilst pondering the buildings rich history, which still manages to seep from every surface. The majority of the hotels rooms are housed in a modern tower that juts over a dozen storeys above the Edwardian facade, ensuring that the highest rooms have a commanding view of the city centre.
The cosy rooms boast all the creature comforts you can desire and provide a perfect counterpoint to the history of the building below.