Mr Cooper’s, The Midland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS – Visit Now
Mr Cooper’s has been a respected part of the Midland Hotel for years, offering a more relaxed and accessible take on dining than The French on the other side of the building. The two venues are both key to the Midland, both providing different but important services.
The venue itself is bright and airy, with curious little fixtures such as a fake plastic tree but an actual living grass wall. The largely-female staff are charming and cheerful, quick to put guests at ease.
The starters are fairly priced, all around £5-7, and decent quality. The buttermilk tiger prawns are delicious, fat and juicy, coated in a wonderfully light and crispy batter that means each bite is quickly followed by another. The prawns lie on a kimchi-based sauce, with cute blobs of crème fraîche artfully dispersed around the plate.
The boneless chicken wings are a little disappointing. The meat is soft and succulent, but surprisingly small, and while the broad beans and transparent slices of radish add a pleasing springtime hit of colour, the potato crisps are oddly out of place, and even a little bit stale. It’s a fine looking dish but needs an injection of flavour.
Not so with the pan fried chorizo. These obscene little orbs are different from the usual tapas-style chorizo slices – they’re round and full to bursting with sweet tangy meat, and covered with caramelised bits of dark meat. Delicious.
The ham and cheese croquettes are another good option for meat-lovers – one bite unleashes an eye-opening amount of shredded ham hock, intermingled with Manchego cheese and leek. A little blob of smoked apple helps counter the heaviness of the meat, but it really deserves a dipping sauce of its own.
For main, the swordfish steak proves to be another visually-impressive dish. A thick slice of this lesser-seen seafood, coated with a thick buttery sauce, sprinkled with edamame beans and miso flavours. The fish is robust but tender and the sauce is custom-engineered to match the salty flavours.
The slow roast pork belly is an unusual course. Two thick circles of heavily salty pork, complete with wonderfully crispy fat and a light-as-air piece of crackling. The cavolo nero (Italian kale) on the side is full of near-Cantonese style flavours, all spring onion and chilli, that works beautifully with the pork meat.
But arguably the best dish on offer was the final one, the crema Catalana – basically a creme brulee but with a hint of citrus. The burnt sugar topping is perfect, hard to the touch and a joy to crack into. Best of all, it’s served at the optimum temperature – warm enough to feel decadent but cool enough so the custard is firm enough to wobble. The rosemary shortbreads on the side are the delicious cherry on a very delicious cake (without tasting of cherry).
Mr Cooper’s is often overlooked in favour of its showier elder sibling, The French, but this shouldn’t be the case. It’s a perfect place to drop in for a bite to eat, less formal and more relaxed than it’s near neighbour, but, thanks to Head Chef Rob Taylor, with just as high-quality dishes.
Services and FacilitiesHotel restaurant and bar