Don Giovanni, Peter House, 1-2 Oxford St, Manchester, M1 5AN – Visit Now
Italian restaurant Don Giovanni is one of Manchester’s most long-established restaurants, opening in 1984 and pre-dating many things Mancunian diners now take for granted, such as the numerically-inaccurate list of ‘quarters’ in the city and flamboyant burgers with tediously obnoxious names.
However, one thing connects modern Manchester with the year Don Giovanni opened. Namely the lack of a Michelin star (the last time the city had a star was ten years previously, in 1974). With this in mind, Don Giovanni have partnered with much-loved and multi-Michelin star winning French chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli. A regular face on TV, Novelli has helped design a number of dishes for Don Giovanni’s new menu.
First up, crab tartare with a red pepper and tomato reduction. It’s a stunning plate, all artful splashes of pesto and delicate cubes of cucumber, surrounding a bundle of light, fresh crab meat. It’s as delicious as it is pretty, and a perfect opening course.
Scallops soon follow, served in the shell, on a smear of sweet potato purée and coated with an orange and vanilla reduction. Vanilla might sound like an odd pairing with seafood, but it’s used sparingly, serving to enhance the sweetness of the dish rather than play a leading role. Both mollusc and sauce are as fresh as can be.
There are few sights more satisfying than watching this meat gently tumble apart under the knife
The first meat course sticks to this gentle, elegant theme. Small chunks of honey-soaked duck surround a large round croquette, crunchy breadcrumbs giving way to a soft gooey centre. Rosemary and olives provide backup flavours, making a dish inspired by earthy flavours in both looks and taste.
The braised lamb is the main event, and deservedly so. Gently stewed with one of Italy’s finest wines and the barest hint of licorice, the meat rests on an assortment of winter veg including carrots and the lesser-spotted turnip (a much underrated root vegetable). Portion size is perfect, enough to satisfy without overwhelming. There are few sights more satisfying than watching this meat gently tumble apart under the knife.
Slow roasted pears, infused with honey and cinnamon, with a blob of mascarpone, speared with two long chocolate straws
All too often, desserts can feel like little more than an afterthought. Who hasn’t sighed at yet another carousel of uninspiring brownies and cheesecakes? The same cannot be said for Don Giovanni’s pear dish. These pears are slow roasted, infused with honey and cinnamon and come with a blob of mascarpone, speared with two long chocolate straws. Each element complements the other. One of the best desserts in the city.
Don Giovanni’s has been one of the city’s more sophisticated restaurants for over thirty years, providing gimmick-free meals with a focus on beauty and quality. Jean-Christophe Novelli makes for a perfect addition to the fold and these exquisite meals are sure to satisfy all palates.