MANCHESTER’S best kept secret? ToM loves bigging up a gem that’s under the radar. Which brings us to Randall & Aubin, celebrating the first anniversary of its arrival in the city.
Randall & Aubin? Hardly hiding its light under a bushel with charismatic founder Ed Baines promoting this Bridge Street offshoot of his Soho original, but maybe Mancs have not been making the most of its bar.
Even though they’ve been keen to establish its brasserie credentials our perception is of a seafood restaurant. Indeed some of us in the early days felt miffed when it didn’t seem quite as fish-centric as London. That despite Manchester’s track record of not supporting fish restaurants (witness the ill-fated fish! and Livebait).
Back to the bar, where you can, of course, indulge in oysters or caviar to accompany one of the best cocktail lists in the city. We’d recommend the Martini menu, which strays beyond the classics. Or check out the revitalised wine offering with a terrific new Gavi di Gavi and Malbec. Beer is less impressive, though it’s good to see cans of local Alphabet A to K Oatmeal Pale Ale there.
The new affordable bar snack menu offers good grazing potential – in particular, devilled eggs with crisp bacon, mayonnaise and parsley (£3), sprightly mixed fish of the day goujons with perfect home-made tartare sauce (£5) and, gooey thrice-fried Bridge potatoes with melted Comte cheese (£3.50). We admire the impeccable sourcing of Althams of Morecambe chipolatas (£5), but found the honey and mustard glaze sickly sweet.
It’s hard, though, to resist the temptation of the fish on offer. Dipping into the hors d’oeuvres, the new combo of Devon crab and prawns with tagliorini is a rich pasta small plate for just £8.75; add in a £7.20 glass of ‘La Griffe’ Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine sur Lie and it’s a perfect bar meal.
Those with deeper pockets than the ToM team might prefer a £275 bottle of Krug with their Royal Baeri caviar (£70 for 50g). Caviar, another speciality which R&A bring to the city, will be highlighted during the Manchester Food and Drink Festival, when Ed Baines will host a Caviar and House Champagne Tasting at the Festival Hub on Tuesday, October 2 (£25, tickets on sale now).
Randall and Aubin, 64 Bridge St, Manchester M3. 0161 711 1007.