The River Restaurant at The Lowry Hotel, 50 Dearmans Place, Salford, M3 5LH – Visit Now
If you’ve eaten out in Manchester in the past few years, you’ll know that small plates and street food are the order of the day. Some say it’s a necessary reflection of these manic modern times, others that it’s a cop-out, that those oh-so casual dishes lack the finesse and skill of a carefully-curated three-course meal.
It’s fair to say Andrew Green, executive chef at the River Restaurant in the five-star Lowry Hotel, falls in the latter camp. His latest menu goes against all the prevailing trends in UK food, presenting courses that are big, bold and based on classic British recipes – and, of course, fresh local produce.
There’s something wonderfully refreshing about this. Rather than prioritising gimmicks and fads, the meals on offer at the Lowry Hotel’s riverside restaurant are time-honoured classics, food that makes up the fabric of the British Isles, but have been unfairly overlooked in recent years.
It’s a perfect fit for this room, one of Manchester’s best-looking high-end dining spaces. It settles in that sweet spot between elegance and pleasure – relaxed enough to unwind but grand enough to feel truly luxurious. The place runs like a Rolex, never rushed, always on time, all thanks to the delightful staff who glide about effortlessly.
We begin with potted shrimp, half a dozen tender brown shrimp, set in a nutmeg-flavoured butter, served with lightly-toasted rye bread. It’s a long-established British dish, relatively simple to make but the quality of the ingredients is what makes it shine here. The butter is silky and decadent, the shrimp are delicately cooked, matching perfectly with the sturdy, hearty rye bread.
Even better is the twice-baked cheese soufflé, made with creamy, full-flavoured Lancashire Bomb cheese. It’s beautifully fluffy and light, with a punch-packing hit from the tangy locally-sourced cheese. The thin strips of apple and tiny balsamic pearls aren’t just for decoration either – each element lifts the soufflé to new, ever-more satisfying, heights.
Taking another leaf from high-end dining of years gone by, the menu includes a number of dishes to share between two. The Beef Wellington has been raved about, so we forfeit variety and hope for the best. And the best is exactly what was delivered – unsurprisingly, considering this is the chef’s favourite dish.
This is clearly the restaurant’s showcase meal, evidenced by the cook bringing the fillet of beef to our table before preparing it. The fillet steak centre is as good as it gets – pink, plump and incredibly tender despite being baked in mushroom duxelles, Parma ham and an expertly-made puff pastry. It comes with an intoxicating, full-bodied Madeira sauce, so good you’ll end up dreaming about it afterwards. Other than some salad leaves, it only comes with a roasted shallot and garlic, so you’ll need to order a side of the gloriously creamy mashed potato, plus some tender stem broccoli for good measure.
After the success of this sharing meal, we choose the dessert for two – the Amarena cherry baked Alaska. If you’re looking for wow-factor, this is it. The intense sourness of the cherries balances the sweetness of the Alaska, with crisp meringue insulating the centre, delivering a creamy hit of ice cream when you break on through.
With two AA Rosettes, it’s no surprise the River Restaurant delivers such a flawless experience. What’s more surprising is that nowhere else in Manchester, or even the North, is offering the UK’s homegrown cuisine at such an accomplished level, cooked with true confidence. If you want to try the nation’s finest food, The River Restaurant is the best for miles around.