STRANGE that Admiral Nelson has neither a pair of boots nor a dish named after him. Apparently en route for Trafalgar this man of plain tastes ordered a shipboard consignment of suet and raisins, so maybe his naval triumph was fuelled by spotted dick.
Compare fellow hero the Duke of Wellington, whose footwear and culinary legacy is still with us. OK, the original Wellington boots named after him were of the finest calf skin, only later rubberised for utilitarian reasons, but Beef Wellington remains the same gourmet dish he craved. The fact that this British homage to its hero is essentially the conquered French’s filet de bœuf en croûte (fillet of beef in pastry) we’ll ignore in the face of a 2018 version that truly deserves a medal.
Lowry Hotel exec chef Andrew Green (above) has marshalled his kitchen team to produce a new a la carte that restores the glory that is Dover Sole to a city where it has been missing, well ever since the Lowry dispensed with the Sole filleting at table ritual. The new Sole is served Meuniere style, on or off the bone, for £39.
It’s all part of a recoil from small plates and casual, without a leap into challenging innovation, that has produced a menu honouring classic dishes in a contemporary context.
Hence the Beef Wellington, a baked beef in pastry package it’s easy to get disastrously wrong. Timing is all to get the meat moist and not overcooked, the pastry neither burnt nor flabby. Glossopian Andrew gets it spot on, encasing the beef fillet in a mushroom duxelle and Parma ham before baking in puff pastry. Served with a Madeira sauce, just as Wellington demanded, at The Lowry’s 2 AA rosette River Restaurant it is carved at table for two to share and costs £65.
Starters are comfort classics – the likes of an intense potted shrimp (£10.50), crab macaroni cheese (£9.50), split pea and ham soup (£7.50) and the perennially popular twice baked Lancashire Bomb cheese soufflé £8.50).
Stand-out fish main? Possibly the Lowry fish pie (£19) or the Scottish halibut fillet (£27) made the classic way with a lobster stock, while ToM would be happy to tickle our ribs with steamed beef shin, oxtail and kidney pudding (£18).
If there’s room, steamed treacle sponge and for a lighter pud rhubarb trifle, given a twist (we won’t spoil the surprise) or a refined baked alaska.
None of this is reinventing the wheel, but the accomplishment in evidence shows The Lowry regaining culinary kudos. Which is a major plus given the moribund state of much hotel dining in the city.