Birthdays should involve your favourite things (ie eating!) with your favourite people, which is exactly how I spent mine recently. It began with my first trip to Aiden Byrne’s restaurant at Manchester House, via a brief detour to the bar for a cocktail on level 12. We then made our way through the open-plan restaurant to our table, passing the busy team of chefs – including Aiden Byrne himself. I loved the décor, which was industrial and masculine yet warm and inviting. And being able to spy on the kitchen throughout the entire meal was the best form of entertainment imaginable!
The a la carte selections looked delicious and we were sorely tempted by the six-course taster option, but we decided on the lighter three-course lunch menu. We were pleasantly surprised when this began with an amuse bouche of a dainty brioche roll, roasted onion butter and a frothy onion soup.
To start I had a spring nettle soup with hearty flakes of Norwegian king crab, topped with a crisp corn fritter. Then I took a bold move with the main course of cod loin, which was served with thin slices of potato, edible flowers, mushrooms and… braised snails. As a complete vegetarian for the first 18 years of my life and a fish eater thereafter, snails have never appealed. But the rest of the meal had been so delicious it felt like the right time to try something new. And I actually liked them! Out of the shells they looked just like mushrooms and tasted very similar.
The dessert was possibly my favourite part of the meal. A dark chocolate delice served with mixed berries and avocado ice cream, it was utterly divine. The tangy berry macaroon and vibrant edible flowers complemented the rich chocolate and creamy avocado. And to end the perfect birthday meal, we were presented with a box of beautiful assorted macaroons. The flavours were so intense in this – and every dish – I felt like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, sampling Willy Wonka’s three course chewing gum.
At £27.50 for three courses this was fantastic value and a great way to experience the luxury of dining at Manchester House. After spying on the next table dining from the full taster menu, I’d love to return with my greedy sister for the full experience, and will certainly return for lunch in the meantime.
Other greedy birthday treats included…
A Jo Malone birthday experience at Selfridges in the Trafford Centre, where we enjoyed champagne, arm massages and fragrance matching
Hanging kebabs from the new food menu at the Horse and Jockey, Chorlton
The BEST birthday chocolate cake baked by my greedy sister, following our grandma’s trusted recipe
Some gorgeous copper pans, Leon: Fast Vegetarian cookbook, homemade banana jam, Turkish coffee and an authentic pot from Istanbul, and a set of pretty ceramic teaspoons from Amsterdam
An Indian feast at Cardamom Black, Harrogate
A box of the world’s tastiest chocolates, shipped from Joel Durand in St Remy de Provence, and a chocolate cookbook signed by Joel