King Street Townhouse is one of Manchester’s more recent boutique hotels, along with a handful of other branches across the North West. King Street Tavern is the attached bar and restaurant, an elegant-looking room full of traditional design touches. It’s all red leather seating, gleaming white tablecloths and elaborate lighting, perfect for that romantic night out.
This year’s four course Valentine’s Day menu takes in elements from the main menu, plus a few charming touches (expect to receive a fresh, thorn-free rose upon entry). Service is brisk and friendly, there’s no waiting around and the staff stay on the right side of helpful. Arctic conditions outside mean tonight is a touch on the quiet side, but the atmosphere inside is warm and relaxed. A gently upbeat and not-too-loud soundtrack of modern disco makes for a perfect backdrop – a simple, near-unnoticed element but one so many restaurants get wrong.
A glass of Perrier Jouet champagne kicks things off, boasting a thick slice of strawberry wedged onto the rim. The amuse bouche is a light blend of truffle oil and cauliflower cream with a couple of paper-thin carrot crisps resting on top. It’s a subtle but silky smooth introduction to the meal, immediately evoking memories of the British countryside.
The goat’s cheese tart is a superb follow-up. It’s made with impossibly fragile puff pastry and thin slices of cheese, plus the perfect amount of roasted figs – not so much to overpower the plate, but enough to add a welcome burst of sweetness to each mouthful. The butternut squash soup isn’t quite as memorable but a fine offering, given crunch and depth by adding pumpkin seeds and pea shoots.
A sharp-angled rectangle of thin layers of potato packed with butter and salt, cooked Lyonnaise style
For main, lamb rump. Thick slices of expertly-cooked lamb, soft and pink in the middle with a thick line of salty fat around the outside. The shallots and red wine jus makes an ideal match, rich and full of dark, dank flavours. The whole dish is scattered with tiny florets of roasted cauliflower, adding an essential crunch and earthiness. The pomme anna is almost worth making the trip for alone. This is a sharp-angled rectangle of thin layers of potato packed with butter and salt, cooked Lyonnaise style. And not to forget the effortlessly mild blobs of pea and mint pureée. Every single element of the dish is a delight, and whole plate perfectly balanced – red meat-lovers will be in heaven.
However, the herbs crust cod supreme is a disappointment. The white fish is good quality, but the herb crust is claggy and damp, less a crust and more of a gunk. The green samphire stalks help make up for it. Tender and crisp, they mesh well with the crushed potatoes and fennel and saffron cream sauce.
Subtle touches like this ensure it deserves its place on the ever-growing King Street food scene
The raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake dessert is much better. Delicious fresh raspberries and feather-light fluffs of vanilla cream speckle the plate, dotted around the bright pink cheesecake. It’s a fine end to a largely excellent meal.
While many Valentine’s menus pile on the courses, King Street Tavern get the portion size exactly right. Enough to be satisfied but without leaving the diner bloated and weary. Subtle touches like this ensure it deserves its place on the ever-growing King Street food scene.