By Jo Cooksey
No matter the time of day or the season, the view from 20 Stories always makes you do a little intake of breath. Think Manchester’s dining equivalent to The Shard. Add to that exciting food and drink choices and courteous service and you have the full package.
Our most recent visit coincided with beginning of Brian Hughson, new Head Chef’s tenure. We enjoyed the Aiden Byrne experience, prior to his departure back to the other side of Spinningfields but we have also enjoyed many of Brian’s meals in the past too, when he was at Randell & Aubin. We were invited to sample his new Sunday lunch menu and we didn’t have to asked twice.
We were booked in for 12, which normally would be far too early for me on Sunday but on this occasion, I was up and dressed with the lark, tramping the fields with two rather startled dogs and then in the car and on the way to town before you could say halibut.
A Room With A View
Our table was by one of the floor-to-ceiling windows and as the weather was sunny, the view was magnificent despite all the building works going on. The impressive vista didn’t stop my lunch companion and I falling on the menus when they arrived though. The restaurant’s top-notch bread and butter arrived on the probably the UK’s most Instagram’d breadboard.
Once we had ordered the wine sommelier came over and having seen our food choices suggested a bottle of Beaujolais Blanc, Domaine du Vissoux, to best compliment them. Neither of us are connoisseurs of the grape; we know what colour goes with what and we know what we like but that’s about it. So, we were more than happy to go with his suggestion, and I have to say it was a lovely. Crisp but well-rounded and with notes of peaches, apricots and pears. Ok, so I Googled that last bit, but I agree with it.
Let’s Get This Party Started
Our first course dishes were delivered and mine glistened like a pile of rubies on its dark plate. I had Beetroot Cured Salmon with Roast Beetroot, and Salmon Caviar. It was so, so delicious, a taste sensation. The salmon was plump and creamy with an earthy bite from the beetroot. I have a total aversion to Sturgeon caviar because of its overriding saltiness but I actually quite like salmon caviar. This dish also came with nasturtium leaves, a sprinkle of chives, drops of garlicky mayo and a second fish roe. Teeny, tiny spheres of bright green Wasabi Flying Fish Roe. Yep, I had to Google that one too. Apparently, it is the roe of the flying fish, I guess the clue was in the name, that has been infused with Wasibi. They burst in the mouth with a hot, slightly sweet kick. A perfect pop of flavour with the oiliness of the salmon. I could eat this dish again and again.
My pal had the Chicken Liver Parfait with Grape Chutney and Sour Dough. The parfait itself was creamy and silky smooth and the chutney worked with it beautifully; the acidity and sweetness gliding through the parfait’s richness.
All About The Fish
For once, I bypassed the opportunity of having a Sunday roast in favour of a plump Fillet of Cod baked with Chorizo, Red Peppers and New Potatoes, served in a sizzling cast iron dish. The fish itself was beautiful, though the skin could have done with another 30 seconds, but I found the surrounding peppers too sweet and too oily for my palate. My buddy liked it when she tried it though, which just goes to show we don’t all have the same tastes. The chorizo was rustically chunked, which I prefer to water thin slices and was obviously of a very good quality.
Across the table, my companion was swooning over her Salmon Fillet with Roast Onion Mash and Broccoli. I tasted it and it was really good. The salmon was perfectly cooked; juicy with firm flakes and a crispy skin. I had fish envy. The mash, topped with crispy onion shards, was utter comfort food. The sort of thing you want a bucket load of when you’re feeling under the weather. We also had a side order of peas with mint. Peas with fish is the law.
The Best Part
Dessert time! You know we love our puds. A meal out isn’t a meal out without one and we have always been happy with the 20 Stories offering. As on previous occasions we were spoilt for choice. After a lot of umming and ahhing and promises to share, I picked the Buttermilk Pannacotta with Rhubarb, Lemon Curd and Meringue, while Frankie chose the White Chocolate Cheesecake with Amarana Cherries.
My panacotta had a perfect wobble and the addition of buttermilk gave a pleasing sharpness. I adore rhubarb and anything that is lemony, so this was a perfect dessert choice for me. The cheesecake was luxurious and creamy but not sickly and the cherries were gorgeous. Both dishes were scattered with micro lemon balm, which added a wonderful citrus burst. All in all, a perfect end to a damn good meal.
Will We Return?
Of course. We love 20 Stories. The atmosphere, the staff, the surroundings, the view and of course the food, all meld together to make a memorable dining experience and while it’s not the chepest I still feel it’s good value. A 3 course lunch during the week comes in at £22.50 for 2 courses and £27.50 for 3 courses and the Sunday menu , which has a greater choice, is £29.50. If you haven’t been yet, we would say go along and treat yourself. We’re sure you won’t be disappointed.
We were guests of 20 Stories but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.