The Mancunian, Etihad Stadium, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:57 27 May 2016
There's more innovation in football catering than just the cultural collision of the balti pie, as a visit to Manchester City's Mancunian suite reveals, says Louise Allen-Taylor
The Mancunian boasts that it lies ‘at the crossroads of Manchester’s popular culture’ and is a restaurant ‘for all those who love modern Manchester’. Well, yes and no, for one half of modern Manchester - the Red half - will almost certainly not darken its door. This is, more accurately, a restaurant for those who love Manchester City FC, tucked away, as it is, at a vantage point in the Colin Bell Stand overlooking the hallowed turf of the Etihad Stadium.
Football affiliations aside, this is indeed a restaurant which chimes with modern Manchester: a swish bar at the entrance, an airy room decorated in whites and shades of grey, high-backed bench seating and lots of booths, many with their own TVs tuned to sports channels, whetting your appetite for the game. Add in some pop culture artworks and you do indeed have a room in which a cool Blue such as Noel Gallagher would happily kick back and talk sport before repairing to the comfy chairs out in the stand to watch fate the game.
It’s intriguing to experience match day catering of this kind. How many other of Manchester’s restaurants have to cope with a full house, all arriving at pretty much the same time, and all requiring to be fed and watered by a strict deadline? City’s army of staff rise to that challenge admirably - some consolation on a day when the better-paid team on the pitch are not as adept at delivering the goods.
For a kick-off, I choose devilled fillet of mackerel, and enjoy sumptuous, pleasingly acerbic chunks of fish accompanied by little crescents of tomato flesh, red onions and herb dressing: a very fine fish dish, attractively presented. Across the table, his pear and blue cheese salad is a lovely balance of sweet and mildly sour, with the musty delight of sticky walnuts added into the mix. The Garstang blue used in this recipe is a star among cheeses.
All of this goes very nicely with a bottle of Yealand’s Sauvignon blanc (£46) from a wine list which covers most bases. It so happens that this is a Sunday fixture, so beef and Yorkshire pud it must be. Thick slices of roast sirloin are cooked a perfect medium, the pud is crisp and well-risen and there is a strong supporting cast in a hunk of fondant potato, robustly flavoured spinach and greens and carrot roasted in duck fat, all in a puddle of red wine gravy. Across the table, pan-seared rump of lamb comes with redcurrant jus, creamy mash, roasted roots, buttery cabbage and spinach - all delicious.
The apple cheesecake is a luscious puck topped with an apple jelly in which blackberries are set. A brittle shard of dessicated apple provides decoration to an attractive dessert. Our other pud is a pear and almond tart with vanilla custard and pistachio ice cream, plus a second appearance for the sticky walnut - another lovely dessert.
Time for the football now. After 45 minutes, we troop back into The Mancunian for warming little half-time meat and potato pies and brown sauce. Yum! Another 45 minutes of play, and City fall frustratingly to Spurs 2-1. They think it’s all over...but there’s still post-match chocolate truffles and fudge with coffee, all very appetising...almost enough even to eclipse the bitter taste of defeat.
The Mancunian is just one of the matchday hospitality offerings at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium. Prices for the Mancunian start from £225 pp. To discover more, phone 0161 385 2012 or visit mcfc.co.uk/hospitality or email firstname.lastname@example.org