Christmas is a time for feasting and fine wines. At James Martin Manchester, you can do both in style thanks to a stunning new winter menu.
The seasonally changing menus at the classy-but-comfortable restaurant in the Great Northern give top billing to ingredients from renowned UK butchers, fishmongers, game dealers, farmers and cheese makers.
It’s evident in every dish, whether it’s the plump mussels from St Austell Bay in Cornwall, the Cumbrian Lakeland Fells steaks aged for a minimum of 28 days in a Himalayan salt chamber, or the selection of British cheeses from a Baron Bigod produced in Suffolk to GoaShee from Cartmel.
First, though, there’s warm homemade sourdough, served in true James Martin style with a little bowl of full-flavoured, intensely savoury beef dripping as well as extra butter and salt.
A starter of velvety cauliflower cheese velouté (£8.50) with luxurious black truffle is rich, soft and comforting as a cashmere blanket, served with a buttery scone made with Welsh Haford Cheddar and roasted yeast butter.
A soft, flaky fillet of herb crusted grilled plaice (£12.50) is light and delicate, served with BBQ gem lettuce, jewel-like roe tartare and fresh sea herbs. A real taste of the seaside.
Thai spiced Cornish crab risotto (£10.50), a clear customer favourite and a dish which appears with regularity on the menu, is fabulously fragrant with lemongrass, lime leaf and hot green chilli.
Every dish is a delight, creative and confident, matched by the sparkling service from cheerful and knowledgeable staff.
Onto mains, and Herdwick lamb cutlets (£23) are perfectly pink and tender, served with lamb faggot, sweet buttery confit carrot and spinach.
It’s set off by the warm, toasty flavour of dukkah, the Egyptian and Middle Eastern condiment consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts and spices, and a sharp sheep yoghurt purée.
Juicy breast of Guinea fowl (£21.50) comes with a generous serving of crisp, golden shards of skin on the side, along with rich confit leg and truffle tortellini.
It’s served with meaty hen-of-the-woods mushroom, piccolo parsnip and Christmassy charred sprout.
Anise braised carrots with tarragon butter (£4.50) make an aromatic and elegant side dish.
James is well-known for his love of proper puddings, so it’s no surprise that the restaurant takes desserts seriously.
A blackberry and pear ‘pavlova’ (£8), light and crisp, comes with gingerbread, blackberry and bay ice cream, while a decadent white chocolate and whiskey croissant butter pudding (£8) is simply stunning, served with whiskey ice cream and crunchy honeycomb.
When it comes to drinks, fans of the celebrity chef will be thrilled to know that James has recently launched his own range of wines, available in the restaurant.
The wines, which the chef has been heavily involved in sourcing, selecting and blending, include a Chardonnay-Marsanne blend (£9.90 a glass, £42 a bottle), floral and fruity with citrus notes.
There’s also a Syrah (£11.30 a glass, £48 a bottle), which has notes of dried fig, black olive and white pepper followed by aromas of cherry, currant syrup and chocolate with a hint of nutmeg.
It’s a flawless meal. But more than that, the overall dining experience has that magical quality which just makes life itself feel better.
James Martin Manchester is a gem in the city’s culinary crown and no mistake.