Tom Kerridge’s eagerly awaited new restaurant is opening in Manchester this week. It’s already heavily booked over the coming months with diners keen to see what the Michelin starred chef will bring to the city.
The name for the new restaurant, housed under the magnificent dome which for decades was the trading floor of the Stock Exchange, is The Bull & Bear.
We’ve already had a taste of Tom’s Sunday lunch, when he came to the MFDF dining dome to deliver a spectacular roast which included brisket stuffed Yorkshire puddings. But what else can diners expect?
Tom and his executive chef Dan Scott have created a menu that is influenced by Tom’s Michelin starred pub in Marlow, The Coach.
Dishes are split into hot and cold small plates, ‘a bit bigger’ hot dishes, sides, a sweet section and cheese. There are also several rotisserie dishes, including a special of the day – a quarter chicken with cavalo nero, parsley root and chanterelles on our visit.
Small hot plates include a wonderfully creamy mushroom ‘risotto’ (£8.50), the recipe originally by Claude Bosi, which uses grains of oyster and button mushroom rather than rice. It’s lighter, but packed with intensely savoury flavour, dotted with melting mozzarella and topped with a glaze of aged Parmesan cheese.
There’s also mussels marinière with warm stout and brown bread (£11.50), crispy pig’s head with celeriac remoulade and spiced date sauce (£9.50), and rotisserie baked potato with creme fraiche and raw steak (£8.50).
Onto cold options, and an earthy and smoky rotisserie beetroot salad (£8.50), lifted by tangy feta and a crunchy hazelnut dressing.
Other cold plates include smoked chicken and ham hock terrine with piccalilli (£9.50), and duck liver parfait with plum chutney and toasted brioche (£8.50).
Larger plates include fish fritter of the day with pease pudding and tartare sauce (market price), a towering burger with smoked bacon (£12.50), and a delicious round ball of steak and blue cheese ‘demi’ pie with roasted onion and ale gravy (£14.50).
Venison chilli (£13.50) looks like an early favourite, with toasted rice cream, red wine and chocolate, as does a refined chicken kiev with maple glazed butternut squash (£14.50).
We also love huge golden chips served with a great gherkin ketchup (£5.50).
Sweet options, all £8.50, include sticky toffee pudding enriched with beef suet served with sweet toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream, profiteroles with soured vanilla cream, and an elegant but comforting banana custard with dates, sweet honeycomb and pistachios.
The interior domed ceiling of the former trading floor is grand, with furnishings including elegant green curved banquettes and comfortable leather armchairs. The colour palette is gold and green, inspired by the architecture and interior design of the hotel.
You can see the chefs at work in the open kitchen, and Tom says he’ll be overseeing the new operation while it launches.
But diners might find themselves distracted by the screens dotted about showing live sports.
The aim is to make the restaurant an approachable and social space, blurring the lines between elegance and informality, they say. But while the TV screens make it feel less formal, they also seem rather incongruous in such a grand setting.
They certainly seem to have divided opinion.
Service already seems slick and friendly during soft launch, which adds to the relaxed atmosphere. It’s an imposing space, but the experience isn’t stuffy.
“Our goal is to be somewhere that people feel welcome and looked after while enjoying some delicious food,” said Tom.
First impressions offer high hopes.
The Bull & Bear opens in Stock Exchange Hotel on Norfolk Street on 15th November 2019.