The First Street restaurant was awarded two AA rosettes for culinary excellence last year and has picked up favourable reviews in national newspapers including the Guardian and the Telegraph.
And with a creative, confident – and above all, fun – new spring menu just launched, it seems the kitchen is getting better with age.
The first dish is what Simon has called ‘garlic mushrooms on toast’ – though it’s probably not what you’re expecting, in presentation at least.
The pretty little bowl is filled with the punchiest hit of seasonal wild garlic, perhaps a touch overpowering – though garlic lovers won’t complain.
There are also mushrooms and an earthy mushroom ketchup, with a crunchy golden pangrattato breadcrumb topping.
Next up is a fat, juicy Orkney scallop, dressed in a crab oil with aged white balsamic vinegar, crunchy white beetroot ‘tagliatelle’ ribbons with sea herbs, and salty pearls of Exmoor caviar hailing from the foothills of the Exmoor National Park.
Rabbit, liquorice and prune (£9.50 as a starter) sounds simple, but isn’t.
The tender rabbit is wrapped in parma ham, and stuffed with offal from the rabbit and mushrooms. Prune flavour infuses the liquorice puree so it’s quite sweet rather than bitter.
The buttery carrots are cooked Vichy style, on the crunchy side of al dente, and there’s also a sweet, fragrant carrot gel infused with thyme and diced prune.
Breast of Anjou squab pigeon (£26 as a main), served confidently rare with crisp skin, comes with bitter red radicchio leaves and ‘bacon butty bread sauce’.
Bacon butty bread sauce? This sounds like something we need in our lives. Please, tell us more.
“The way we’ve done that is we’ve taken lardo, and rendered the fat out of it,” says Simon.
“It’s sauteed with thyme, cream and breadcrumbs – basically, all the elements of a bacon sandwich in a bread sauce.”
The pigeon is served with crisp bacon frazzle, seared shallot, endive and thyme. It’s big, bold, and grin-inducing. But the best is still to come.
Assiette of lamb (£32 as a main) consists of best end of lamb with savoy cabbage, smooth Jersey Royal potato puree, and an aromatic ramshackle and lavender honey curd.
There’s also slowly braised lamb neck, garlic, tangy Bosworth Ash goats cheese and lamb kidney on the plate.
Desserts include a celebration of Yorkshire rhubarb (£8), which comes in various forms – rhubarb sorbet, compressed rhubarb, a rhubarb tuile, and shaved iced rhubarb – along with single origin Casa Luker white chocolate and rose custard foam.
Rhubarb and custard crumble never looked so elegant.
But then the petits fours arrive, and they’re made using everyone’s favourite Manchester ingredient.
Vividly purple and presented like expensive gems, the little macarons are made with Vimto and violet.
— Simon Wood (@SimonJWoodUK) March 15, 2019
Sweet, chewy and fragrant, with a hefty hit of nostalgia, these are the perfect end to any meal.
It’s a winner of a spring menu from Simon and head chef Mike Jennings.
And this First Street gem continues to go from strength to strength.