SUCH a relief to discover Mr Cooper’s new meat-led Sunday menu isn’t solely focused on roasts. Tomahawk or Chateaubriand? Now that’s a much more exciting choice than buttoned-up topside – with just a scattering of fries, bearnaise. a red wine and bone marrow jus instead of the obligations of roasties, Yorkshire puds and whole roster of plated veg. We did grab side of cauliflower cheese but that was just creamy greed.
We settled for the Chateaubriand, served properly rare, and didn’t regret it, for – whisper it softly – Mr Cooper’s is truly getting its act together these days under new chef Rebecca Richardson. The city’s higher profile meat chefs tend to be men – Brian Hughson at 20 Stories, say, or Andrew Green at Mamucium – but she’s up there with them on this evidence.
All the meat is butchered in-house, unique to Manchester, they claim, and the attention to detail shows. The Chateaubriand with all its trimmings costs £65 for two to share, a tenner less than the Tomahawk. Six large, tender slices of intense flavour, Testimony to the minimum 28 days’ ageing they give their Yorkshire Back Angus/Limousin beef.
In line with my carnivore’s remit I’d ordered a starter of beef carpaccio (£9.50), doused in good quality extra virgin, its pickled baby vegetables delight. A similar delicacy applied to my companion’s trio of nutty scallops (£11.50), seared in a hazelnut and caper crumb that enhanced rather than overwhelmed.
The red wine list leans towards big Spanish flavours of Tempranillo and Monastrell. We went for a bottle of dependable Rhone, all garrigue herbs and smoky savouriness. OK, for £36, the mark-up on our Ventoux Domaine Fonte Sarade was a touch steep but it was a restrained match for that gorgeous steak.
Puddings? We shared a signature Allotment and a creme brulee. The former, for £7.50,is an Instgrammable collection of mini-treats on a bed of chocolate ‘soil’. The combo of choc cherry kirsch mouse, marzipan carrots, strawberry sorbet, baby toffee apples and micro basil mint is playful enough but there is more pud power in the vanilla brulee with and the tuile basket of alcoholic fruit.
The Allotment reminds me that the theme of The Midland Hotel’s secondary restaurant space a celebration of the eponymous market garden that once occupied the neighbourhood. It has mellowed since the early days of the conversion when it did resemble a garden centre.
The tree centrepiece is still there and looking sprightly but the living wall has seen better days (witness its decline since our last visit in January, below). Still Mr Cooper’s kitchen certainly seems to be blossoming.