Once in a while, Mo and I will visit a new place, experience a new activity or discover a new restaurant that makes Mo jump with joy and unleash his inner writer. Having missed the launch night as it was during Ramadan and we were fasting, a few weeks ago we were treated to an evening at the very new Mr White’s English Chophouse on Canal street in Manchester. Mo was so taken with our night there, he sent me his review without me even asking for it:
When Asma said we had been invited to the new Marco Pierre White (MPW) restaurant, Mr White’s English Chophouse in Manchester, my first thought was “Oh great, that’s just round the corner.” We had been meaning to try his new place in Birmingham, but with life as busy as it is we just don’t have the time to journey that far.
The new Manchester restaurant is not based in the ultra-swanky Spinnngfield’s or the uber-trendy Norther Quarter, pretty predictable locations for new eateries in the City. MPW’s Chophouse is instead based somewhere you would probably never expect – Canal Street – the epicentre of Manchester’s Gay Village. Located underneath the Velvet Hotel, there’s no ostentatious signage indicating that one of this country’s most well-known chefs has opened a restaurant here. It blends in seamlessly with the facade of the building.
Descending the stairs, we discovered a veritable oasis of tranquility. Whilst the punters were outside drinking and socialising in neighbouring establishments on the street above us, the restaurant felt like a secret, secluded club – impeccably decorated if not somewhat rather smaller than expected (not necessarily a bad thing). It actually added to the very special vibe it has going on.
The clock had just ticked past 7pm and it was fairly quiet – bear in mind it was a weekday evening and the sun was beaming outside but we were all the happier as we got a lovely corner of the place all to ourselves. Comfortable seating, the odd pillow accessory, cutlery and gorgeous stemware twinkling under the lights (love is in the detail, is it not). We were served by Aaron that evening, a really lovely chap with a cheeky sense of humour and an excellent knowledge of the menu. I knew where I was starting (they had me at crispy calamari), but Asma took a much more considered approach, examining all the options before settling on the baked Camembert with fresh herbs.
To date, I have long said that the best calamari to be had in this country is at any of the San Carlo restaurants that I have visited over the years. San Carlo have been overtaken. The calamari at MPW was beautifully light, buttery and completely melt in your mouth. Devastatingly delicious. The Camembert, a single but generous portion, came with roasted baby vine tomatoes and a hunk of sourdough bread. It was baked and melty to perfection! Every mouthful a joy to behold.
And when we thought nothing could out-do the starters, our mains arrived – The governors fried haddock with chips and mushy peas, along with Asma’s order, Marco’s baked macaroni cheese with poached hens egg and a side salad (to make herself feel better). What can I say, the portions were ginormous but we tried our utmost to battle through. Thankfully, we were fasting just the week before so these portions felt deserved, if not ever-so-slightly justified.
The haddock soft, fluffy and beautifully cooked, it literally fell apart at the slightest touch. It worked great against the sharp crack of the batter. The chips and mushy peas as gratifying as you would expect. The macaroni cheese was again simply perfect. The cheese – not too strong, not too mild; the pasta – not too al dente, not too soft. Comfort food of the highest order. The portions were so generous, we struggled to finish. Aaron still convinced us to look at the dessert menu and of course, looking was not enough – we opted for The Box Tree Mess, The perfect mistake – we had no clue whatsoever on what it included but we were intrigued. The gamble paid off as it turned out to be the best Eton Mess we have ever had.
A portion big enough for 4, we managed to consume about 80% of between the 2 of us. The cream was like sensationally moreish french Chantilly with just the right amount of crumbled meringue, fresh strawberries on a base of beautifully cold, vanilla ice cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it….
Moving on to the service, Aaron was excellent. As mentioned, he had a great knowledge of the menu and made great suggestions (especially when Asma was taking so long to decide). He had just the right balance of giving us time to talk (and eat!) and came over to check we were OK only when necessary, throwing in some good banter (we are in Manchester after all).
Altogether the value of the meal we had was just under £70 for the two of us. A huge shock as we expected it to be more. Considering we enjoyed three courses with generous portion sizes, £30 per person seemed quite reasonable. The following day we had met a couple of our friends who were complaining about spending that much on a mediocre meal at a chain restaurant so although it’s on the pricy side – it’s fantastic value for the quality of what you get.
The only downer for us, there are no halal meat options (not even on pre-order) so we cannot try what looked like an EPIC burger (yes we were really were staring out the table who ordered it in envy). I hope this will change so we can enjoy a fuller dining experience in the future.
Even without any halal options, Asma and I both agreed this was one of the most memorable meals we have had in a long time. The location (minutes away from Piccadilly train station and the city centre), the food and the service are nothing short of superb. This place gets a firm 10 out of 10 and we are sure that this is somewhere we will return to again and again in the future.
*** Thank you to Mr White’s English Chophouse for inviting us to review the restaurant as we couldn’t make the launch evening. All views on here are Mo’s but I very much agree with the lot. If I didn’t, you can guarantee I’d have stuck my oar in ? All imagery is my own, and not a single picture has been edited ***