By Jo Cooksey
We all have meals that are burned into the pleasure section of our brains. Food that when combined with say, the location, the company, the weather or a combination of factors just becomes one of our ‘perfect food moments’. I have several of these, including sitting cross legged in the desert in Israel on a warm Summer night, looking up at the most amazing star filled sky while eating the most gorgeous, yet simple hummus and flat breads.MasterChef Winner
We recently ate at Wood Manchester and this meal has definitely been put in the ‘perfect food moment’ annuls of my mind. Opened a few months ago by Simon Wood, BBC Masterchef winner 2015 the food we were served was, without exaggeration, mind and palate blowing.
The interior of Wood has a very Scandi feel to it; lots of wood, wallpaper imitating stone and pops of bright teal upholstery. Part of the kitchen is open to the restaurant and is denoted by a wall of strong blue tiles. The chef’s table seating is located here if you would like to watch the chef’s work while you eat. The main part of the restaurant, while for the most part having very high ceilings, still feels quite intimate when you are seated in a booth as we were. The vibe across the restaurant as a whole is quite relaxed.To Start
We bobbed along to sample the a la carte menu on a mid-week evening. Simon had just clocked off and head chef, Mike Jennings was in charge. We know Mike of old, from his days at Grenache and there is no one better in Manchester that Mr. Wood could be working with.
Our waiter Jonathon took time to explain the menu and then bought us a rather delightful glass of fizz to enjoy while we tried to make our minds up. Decisions, decisions. In the end, my dinner companion chose the Wild Mushroom Ravioli, one of the dishes that won Simon his MasterChef title. I decided to start with Mike’s signature dish of mackerel with goat’s curds, beetroot and watercress. The ravioli was delicate and earthy and surprisingly filling. The mackerel was absolutely heavenly, the sharpness of the goat’s curd and citrus pieces cutting through the oiliness of the fish. This took me right back to being a teenager in Anglesey, catching, prepping and grilling fresh mackerel, all within a couple of hours. Another ‘perfect food moment’ memory.The Main Event
We were already in a state of food induced ecstasy over the starters when our mains arrived. I had ordered the venison, which had been prepared in a sous vide and was served with parsnip puree, parsnip crisps, blackberries soaked in liqueur and ginger. This was absolute bliss. The meat was so, so tender and flavoursome and the sweetness of the parsnips and the blackberries and the heat of the ginger were a perfect counterpoint to the earthy, gamey venison. I enjoyed this dish so much and keep wondering if I could recreate it at home. Probably not.
My dinner buddy ordered the chicken with chorizo, black olives, saffron and pimiento. A popular combination of Mediterranean flavours that was executed perfectly. Again, the chicken had been prepped in a sous vide, so was as tender and juicy as any chicken we have ever eaten. The chorizo, olives and pimiento added so much flavour as to elevate this humble dish into one to remember. We also ordered two sides between us. A dish of glistening heritage carrots and a fantastic bowl of smooth, luxurious truffle mash. This was so good that I have since purchased a bottle of truffle oil to pour over my homemade mash.Just Dessert
I nipped to the ladies’ room at this point and ran into Simon and Mike. I told them how happy we were with the meal so far and joked with Mike that my daughter was disappointed that the melt in the middle chocolate puddings that he used to do at Grenache weren’t on the menu. In fact, there were no chocolate desserts. He said no problem, just ask the waiter for a chocolate delice. I think they had been experimenting with the Christmas menu that day. The choccy dessert duly arrived with a glass of Mike’s homemade burnt orange steeped whisky. I’ll be making some of this too, it was amazing. The dessert itself was declared to be extremely good. Now a lot of our readers know I don’t like chocolate myself, so I ordered the pineapple, with rum soaked raisins, carpaccio of pineapple, dehydrated pineapple, coconut ice cream and toasted coconut. Tropical’tastic!
I can wholeheartedly recommend Wood Manchester to anyone who appreciates fine food, expertly cooked, beautifully plated and served by wonderfully polite staff, who know the menu inside out. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this restaurant turns out to be the first recipient of the elusive Manchester Michelin star. We shall return very soon.
We were guest of Wood Manchester but as always, our opinions are our own.