MAMUCIUM is buzzing with new menus. Not long after opening (in late November) it launched an opulent Afternoon Tea. To be expected under an exec head chef Andrew Green, who had made his name at The Lowry, famous for its finger sandwiches and dainties.
More recently a bottomless brunch has been announced. Not always a desperate response to ‘not quite the expected trade’. The site inside the new Indigo Hotel alongside Victoria Station is a tricky one. Footfall here usually means a dash for the Transpennine Express and hotel restaurants struggle these days to become destination restaurants (more considered ToM thoughts here).
Which is a shame because Andrew Green has grown in stature as a chef with a true appreciation of the region’s raw materials and seasonally-driven culinary heritage. All this is evident in the latest menu arrivals, from April 15 – a five course tasting at £49 (£89 with wine flight) and an eight-courser at £79. In either, from Lancashire Onion Soup via Hotpot to Manchester Tart the steeply traditional journey is guided by assured contemporary technique.
The icing on the Eccles Cake (now that would be sacrilege!) is a further exploration of the kitchen’s possibilities. Unleashed on the same date is ‘The Unlimited Sharing Menu’. Shades of Homer Simpson or Mr Creosote. Yet it’s not what it says on the can as ToM discovered when exploring what the French would call a ‘menu surprise’.
Costing £59 a head, it has been designed by Andrew to leave guests – parties of four and above – with a sense of curiosity as to what they will be served. You book in advance for the deal and must be prepared for the day’s chef to serve you what he fancies, adding twists to regular dishes or creating a new one from what’s at hand. And there might be seconds if you ask.
As it turned out on this trial run, tweaked versions of dishes off those two tasting menus dominated after a decidedly tapas staple trio of snacks at odds with Andrew’s staunchly Mancunian ethos – padron peppers, crumbed chorizo and garlic prawns. All pleasant enough but more Gypsy Kings than Houghton Weavers.
Quite odd but the menu bucked up substantially with a hugely soothing signature treat – that onion soup made from a 24 hour seethed lamb stock, further layers of savour added by white wine and cheese. If we’d bitten the ‘Unlimited’ bullet and re-ordered and re-ordered we might never have reached another firm favourite.
Don’t tell the Chop Houses but Andrew’s hash is the best in town. The Cheshire-raised beef is theatrically unleashed from a smoke-filled dome and the whole dish is quite a performance, starring crisp potato, caramelised onion, a slow-cooked Burford Brown egg and vividly spiced ketchup. Of course, we ordered another one – and refused to share!
Almost as delightful were two contrasting salmon dishes. The first was a playful Manchester Smokehouse Salmon, incorporating a mousse with cucumber beetroot and seaweed the supporting cast with a rye wafer. The second was a bean and Cumbrian pancetta broth with clams as a bed for a tranche of that old stager, Loch Duart Salmon.
Portions throughout were generous, in particular a trio of puds featuring a take on bread and butter pudding, a chocolate marquise and a Vimto macaroon. A plate of local artisan cheeses was well chosen, too.
Mamucium, Hotel Indigo, 6 Todd St, Manchester M3 1WU. 0161 359 7499. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7am to 10.30pm Mon-Fri and 7.30am-10.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Priced at £59 a head, booking is required when choosing
to dine on the Unlimited Sharing Menu. To make a reservation call 0161 359 7499 or visit their website.