Thursday, December 27, 2007

A big wheel and a deconstructed brulée

Harvey Nichols Second Floor restaurant seemed the ideal place to view the post Christmas Manchester streets below. When they called me to confirm the reservation at lunchtime it sounds like a wild party was taking place and I could barely hear them. But tonight it seems we are the only people in Manchester, the city is deserted and so is the restaurant. But that’s okay; we have all the attentive staff to ourselves.

The place is decorated with a slight festive nod with fairy lights adorning the windows framing the view of the lit big wheel slowly turning in Exchange Square. The waiter whisks over the Champagne trolley with that expression of “Which Champagne would you like?” rather than “Would you like some Champagne?” We have the obligatory Kir Imperial and peruse the menu.

I choose one of my favourites the Seared foie gras, creamed parsnips & apple foam and was not let down. I do so adore the sweet yielding texture of the foie gras and the creamy streak of parsnips.

M feels that she has done scallops recently so plumps for the Game terrine, mulled pear chutney & cinnamon brioche which comes on an immaculately dotted with chutney dressing plate.

M continuing her usual fishy theme opts for the Fillet of Shetland organic cod, wilted spinach & brown shrimp butter and she seems very happy with her whiter than white chunky flakes and little shrimps.

I continue my meaty theme with the Breast of Goosnargh duck, leg confit, braised red cabbage with prune & bacon rolls accompanied by the most robust Gratin Dauphinoise I’ve ever had. The duck was the perfect combination of juicy and meatiness as really only a duck can be, the confited leg was melt in the mouth and the dense gratin Dauphinoise was tasty though not the unctuous creamy concoction I would normally go for.

I loved the idea of the Hot chocolate fondant with snowball ice cream, I briefly convinced myself that the ice cream would look like a snowball or made from some snow shipped in a ice box from somewhere. And then I realised that we are talking about that 70’s throwback drink of Advocaat. Never one to excite my taste buds so after some gentle persuasion I have my snowball flavoured ice cream substituted for a greener mint choc chip snowball sandwiched between two crumbly snowflake-shaped sable biscuits. I could see that mint chocolate chip ice cream was the finishing touch to another dessert but they seemed a little perturbed by my wish, what would they do if there was a run on the other pudding? Fortunately as we’ve only been joined by another pair of diners, they realised that the likelihood of such a disaster was somewhat remote!

And very important, the chocolate fondant centre did flow out in a rich river of loveliness.

When M selected the Milk chocolate crème brulée with clementine jelly & crème fraîche sorbet I am sure she didn’t imagine the sculptural creation that was placed before her. Here is a crème brulée deconstructed and shot through a prism. The milk chocolate part is a spiral of the thinnest chocolate with the crème fraîche sorbet nestling inside all perched precariously on a jewel bright clementine jelly bed. The brulée top of is an explosion of crunchy caramel leaping out of the custard mountain. All very stunning and I assured rather fabulous to eat also.

We’ve had an elegant evening in a quiet and pretty restaurant even if a tad too dark for our tastes. We have also managed some essential sale shopping before our delicious meal so are surrounded by some intriguing shopping bags. Finally we feel we should hit the mean and chilly streets below to start our journey home, it’s probably too late for a big wheel ride so we plump for a taxi instead. Three sparkly forks for Harvey Nichols Second Floor, another one to revisit on a future trip.

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