Grafene restaurant has firmly established its place at the forefront of the modern British fine dining scene in Manchester since it launched last summer.
Paul and Kathryn Roden took their inspiration from graphene, the world’s first 2D material, which was isolated at Manchester University. The restaurant is their food and drink interpretation, where anything is possible.
New to the team this year is head chef Stephen Moore, who has made the short move from Hotel Gotham, having previously worked at 3AA-rosette restaurants at Church Green in Lymm under Aiden Byrne and at Thornton Hall Hotel on the Wirral under Matt Worswick.
His extravagant flavours and stunning presentation have already impressed over the past couple of months as he has added new dishes, but this is his first full menu for the restaurant.
Wanting something refreshing for our preprandial cocktail, the bartender suggested the King Street Mojito which was spot on.
Sipsmith London Dry Gin is perfectly blended with King’s Ginger Liqueur, lemon, lime, cucumber and mint, to produce a much more English affair than the better known Cuban classic.
Stephen put together a five-course tasting menu from the new summer offer to give us an idea of what to expect, but there were a couple of added extras to get us started.
Amuse-bouche of tomato, seven ways (no less!) with mozzarella. A real palate cleanser and just perfect on a warm summer evening. Served with home made breads including rosemary focaccia, wholemeal, and cheese and onion, with olive oil butter or (my favourite) beef dripping.
Beetroot, goats curd, hazelnut, gazpacho. Here, menus are written as a list of key ingredients that give you an idea of flavours, but that doesn’t even begin to do the presentation justice. What you get is a work of art on the plate that just happens to taste incredible too. This dish is so light and elegant, with a colourful collection of beetroot both wrapped around the goats curd and served in its own right.
Tartare, beef, xo egg, black bean, sesame. A real Asian influence here with this beef tartare which has a very intense flavour from the xo dried fish and seafood sauce. Sesame balances, adding a rich and nutty flavour, with kohlrabi adding crunch. Oh and the beef itself is divine.
Halibut, cauliflower, sauce grenobloise, crispy chicken skin. Perfectly cooked halibut in butter, capers, parsley and lemon. With two colours of cauliflower (we can see a pattern here), jumbo raisins, pine nuts, and some rather naughty chicken skin we couldn’t get enough of. A beautiful main course.
Lamb, saddle, neck, aubergine, yoghurt, anchovies, artichoke. Stunning and pink saddle of lamb, with the addition of lamb neck bonbons packed with seasoning and flavour. And the vegetables held their own with especially good chargrilled aubergine.
Blueberry parfait, peach, basil, pecan. This is summer on a plate. Delicious naturally sweet fruits with the addition of basil results in a not too sweet and beautifully balanced dessert. The crunchy pecans are a joy here.
We drank a very interesting and different English wine from Sussex, the Albourne Estate White Pinot Noir, the likes of which I’ve not tried before. Peachy orange in colour, the wine is clean, fresh and vibrant and managed to stand up to the bold flavours in some of the food. It sits somewhere between a red and a white. If you can’t decide which colour to go for we highly recommend this.
With petit fours to finish including orange and pineapple candies, and white chocolate mousse centres, we couldn’t have asked for more. If the food we tried is anything to go by, the new summer menu will be a real hit, as head chef Stephen Moore is already proving to be.
Seeing is believing. Book a table at www.grafene.co.uk