Restaurant review - Opus One Restaurant & Bar, Manchester and The Lobster Pot, Anglesey
PUBLISHED: 10:48 13 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:08 20 February 2013
Vimto, Eccles cake and Manchester tart on the menu? The setting of Opus One is super stylish but by 'eck, there's no doubt which city this restaurant is in REVIEW BY RAY KING Plus a mini-review of The Lobster Pot, Anglesey
The first time I walked into the Radisson Edwardian Hotels flagship Opus One Restaurant my jaw dropped. I dont know what I was expecting some musical theme perhaps, after all, the Free Trade Hall had been the home of the Hall for a century but not this. Not the red lights, the black lacquer furnishing and the oriental atmosphere, complete with statuary.
Was this really the heartbeat of Manchester, where much of the citys history had been played out? On the site of Peterloo and in the halls where the radical Victorian anti-Corn Law Leaguers had challenged governments. Where Bob Dylan has been branded traitor for strumming an electric guitar and where Id been transfixed by Deborah Harry? Or had I been transmuted to Singapore, Bangkok or Hong Kong? Beam me up, Scotty!
Id known the Free Trade Hall since my school speech days were staged there in the 1950s but when controversy raged over its future after the Hall moved out I was broadly in favour of it becoming a hotel. What else could it be used for? And besides, Luftwaffe incendiaries had left only one and a half walls standing; the rest was pretty much an austerity rebuild whose sell-by date had come.
Over time Ive grown used to Opus One and if that startling decor still seems out of place, the restaurant menu is now gratifyingly rooted in classic British food sourced from excellent local ingredients handled with aplomb and presented with panache.
Opus One is not the place for a quiet dinner. On a Tuesday night it was buzzing with animated conversation from the stylish bar at one end of the vast room echoing from all those lacquered surfaces and the music was just about on the right side of intrusive. Liveliness, however, is preferable to sepulchral silence and anyway, Manchester doesnt really do silence.
We began with complimentary amuse bouches of dainty smoked salmon croquettes with dill butter cream before getting stuck into the starters proper. My hand dived scallops with fresh peas, lettuce and lobster dressing (10.25), elegantly presented in rectangular glass platter, were just so; plump, fleshy and delicately flavoured.
Mrs K chose tea smoked venison with carpaccio and cappuccino of increasingly fashionable beetroot the new rhubarb? - foie gras rosti and pancetta crackling (8.65). The dish looked stunning and the sweetness of the beet worked well with the gamey smokiness of the venison; the rosti was probably one component too many.
When a menus main courses feature promising fish dishes, we are invariably hooked and Opus Ones turbot and halibut provided tempting bait. I chose the former, a thick, sweet, perfectly cooked tranche of the king of flatfish served with salty lemon samphire and a delightful pot containing a layered lasagne of Cornish crab (22.95). Delicious.
Mrs Ks generously proportioned fillet of succulent steamed halibut came with seared squid, squid ink dressing and a pressing of flavourful creamed brown shrimps and potatoes (20.95). Our side orders of honey roasted root vegetables and silky red onion mashed potatoes, both very good, added 3 a pop.
We rounded off by sharing a cleverly conceived, witty Taste of Manchester dessert comprising iced Vimto parfait, warm Eccles cake, mini Manchester tart, Vimto smoothie and clotted cream (6.85). And you dont get that in Singapore.
Opus One Restaurant & Bar, Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, Manchester M2 5GP.
Tel: 0161 835 9929; www.radissonedwardian.com
Meal in a minute
Digest this mini-review in 60 seconds
The Lobster Pot
Church Bay, Isle of Anglesey
Tel 01407 730241/398
Style of venue
A family-run fresh fish restaurant perched on a cliff overlooking the sea. This extended cottage has been in the family for generations. The great-grandfather of the present owners was a fisherman who lived here, went out in his boat daily and sold his catch from the door.
On the menu
Lobster, crab, lemon sole, scallops...its fish, fish and more fish, but obligingly, there are meat and vegetarian dishes too. My starter of crab mornay (6.95) was packed with flavour and generously proportioned. Mr Taylor opted for half a fresh lobster with parmesan and garlic (11.95 - yes, lobster is expensive) and was impressed. My mains of lemon sole in herb butter and home-made tartare sauce (14.95) was terrific. Mr Ts Fishermans Pie (13.95) was everything it should have been. Nice puds too. I managed a hearty caramel apple pie (4.95). Theres a good wine list and a wide selection of liquers.
Its a mix of traditional cottage style and modern furniture enhanced by genuine sea-faring artefacts. Quite quaint in a 1970s sort of way.
Relaxed: the clientele are either holidaymakers or locals who know theyre in for a treat.
Good. Its attentive yet theres no rush to hurry. Staff are knowledgeable about the dishes and what wines would suit.
If two of you choose lobster, have three courses, wine and coffee the bill would approach 100. But we dined very well for 69.