It’s been a long time coming, but this week the opening of Tom Kerridge’s restaurant, within Manchester’s Stock Exchange Hotel, is finally upon us and so I went along prelaunch to see just what the good folk of Manchester are in for.
The Bull & Bear Restaurant is housed in a grand domed room within the hotel, which is owned by Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Winston Zahra and is opening to the public on Friday 15th November.
With Tom Kerridge stating that “The Bull & Bear will be a bit of Marlow up North” it was always evident that this was going to be a real treat.
On entering the hotel lobby it was immediately obvious, that this was a grand old building, with lots of marble, brass and a very tasteful green. We were shown through to the bar where we took a bar stool and started to chat. The bar itself is well stocked with a range of beers, including local ‘7 Brothers’ on tap, a number of spirits, obviously with a number of gins and a good wine list.
A pint of 7 Brothers and some talk soon bought up the subject of the TV screens located throughout the restaurant.
The grand room with its original features, matched with the leather seating and marble columns really set the scene of upmarket dining, with the TV’s really seeming to clash with this. A few people commented on how they were out of place, plus who wants to be watching darts or football while at a fine dining restaurant. As someone reviewing the restaurant, I would totally agree, but then I also thought about them on a subconscious level. While dining, I didn’t even notice them, maybe because we were sat in a booth in the centre of the restaurant, or maybe because we were engrossed in conversation with the delightful people we were sat with. But maybe the TV’s in the background lessen the ‘Fine Dining’ experience on purpose and actually help you to relax into a more casual experience, something that Tom Kerridge is known for in his food. I’m sure it won’t be long before Marina O’Loughlin makes a visit and I’ll be intrigued to see her thoughts on this element.
The less stuffy approach was also emulated in the service, which was warm and friendly, whilst also being very professional. From the bar staff who recommended a gorgeous wine called Prunus, which is a Touriga Nacional from the Dao region in Portugal, perfect with a number of the dishes, to the waiting staff who were knowledgeable about the dishes including all allergy information.
The dining concept is one of smallish plates, of which they recommend around 3 per person. Moving away from the starter/main idea, it was one that I enjoyed as I was able to order a number of different dishes to try, which was great. Another plus I found was that as they are bought out as they come, the table was always busy with food being delivered.
Dishes start at around £3.50 for cold dishes, with the hot and bigger dishes costing around £8.50 – £17.50.
First of my dishes to arrive was the Crispy Pigs Head with Celeriac Remoulade and Spiced Date Sauce (£9.50).
A match stick of crispy crackling was my first taste of this place and it was a good one, just as crackling should be. The round of meat was in a crispy coating and was melt in the mouth, with the sweetness of the sauce giving it balance and the celeriac bringing a freshness and added texture.
Next delivered to the table was the Whole Stuffed Quail with Black Pudding and Moilee Sauce (£17.50).
The knife cut into the tender quail and it was falling apart, perfectly seasoned with the black pudding adding a real depth of flavour and the sauce adding a subtle spiciness which I loved, this was a dish I would quite happily have picked up and eaten with my fingers to ensure I got every last piece of this masterpiece, I didn’t however as we were among guests.
The final dish I chose from the plates was the Rotisserie Baked Potato with Creme Fraiche and Raw Steak (£8.50)
This looks like a very simple dish with it basically being a baked potato topped with a steak tartare, however it is the way it is executed and the flavour that makes it a real winner. All the flavours merge to create a form of comfort food which is balanced perfectly.
Other dishes that are available include a Pollock Scotch Egg with Shellfish Bisque (£9.50)
A Mussels Mariniere with Warm Stout and Brown Bread (£11.50)
Fish Fritter of the Day with Pease Pudding (market price), plus a number of sides, including The B&B Chips (£5.50).
On top of the small plates, there are also a number of desserts available, all at a very reasonable £8.50
I tried out the Hot Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Ice Cream which was pleasant, but the Ice Cream was the star of this dish.
And also the B&B Profiteroles with Soured Vanilla Cream, which had a crispness to them which I loved.
Overall the four dishes including dessert that I ordered would have cost £44, which for the quality of food I think is more than reasonable. Added with a few drinks, this is definitely a restaurant that is worth a visit and I’m sure will be a very welcome addition to the Manchester Food Scene
To get yourself booked in, simply visit their website here however be quick, at last look weekend spots were already filling up into March (Although lunchtime and midweek dates are still available)
I was invited to dine at Bull and Bear as a guest, however all thoughts and opinions within the review are my own and honest as always