SPRING has truly sprung in menus across Manchester. You wonder – was there a time before wild garlic was ubiquitous in ever upstart menu? Does the asparagus season get earlier by the year And don’t be fooled by the lamb that arrives at Easter. That kind of ‘spring lamb’, is from animals that were born in the autumn, raised specifically for the Easter market. Lamb born in spring and able to gambol and graze outside is what you’ll be enjoying at pre time, the end of the summer.
Still, caveats aside, it’s good to see fresh greenery on the menus. Take Andrew Green’s new a la carte at The Lowry Hotel’s River Restaurant. His lamb cannon main (£9.95) – meat sourced from Mettrick’s of Glossop, Andrew has a fine chain of local suppliers – sits in a pea and nettle puree and there’s mint oil, too, alongside the more exotic additions of aubergine ‘caviar’ and cumin jus. The spuds? Early Jersey Royals, costliest of carbs.
Brown crabs are definitely in season now and the Lowry crab tian (£9.95) is fresh and juicy, come caviar adding sprightly saltiness, the temptation to layer it with imported avocado resisted. Personally I could also also have resisted the spiralised vegetable ‘spaghetti’.
Avocado does feature in the inevitable asparagus starter – in blob form. There is a spate blobs and mousses on this menu, governed by a spring ‘lightness is all’ ethos (balsamic shallot gets the same treatment). Here it works playfully with a shelled quail egg and burrata mousse (£9.95).
In contrast, a dryish chicken ‘caesar’ (£9.95) is a deconstruction too far. Or should that be reconstruction? The compressed ‘confit’ chicken, anchovies, parmesan, grilled prosciutto don’t add up to the some of their parts.
Line caught sea bass (£21.95), a lovely piece of fish cooked perfectly sitting in a puddle of benchmark beurre blanc, is much better, despite a slice of iberico ham suffering the fate of the prosciutto in the caesar combo.
Yorkshire rhubarb (£6.95), done various ways from sponge to ‘textures’, is as fussy in its presentation as much of the meal, but I’m a sucker for the pink rhizomes from God’s Own Country and, thankfully with ample custard, this is a toothsome end to our taste of spring.
The Lowry Hotel. Five star independent luxury hotel in Manchester and the only hotel in the region to be part of the prestigious Leading Hotels of The World. Since opening in April 2001 the hotel has won over 60 awards. 50 Dearmans Place, Chapel Wharf, Salford, Manchester, M3 5LH. To make a River Restaurant booking visit: www.thelowryhotel.com