Saturday, December 22, 2007

What a Choice!

When selecting some fabulous Manchester restaurants to delight us over the Christmas period several things had to be considered. We wanted new places to experience, though old favourites wouldn’t have been amiss but weren’t available anyway, and that was the main thing, whether they were available. Many restaurants were either totally closed or more often closed for a private party. I went through an extraordinary list of bookings before this award winning one struck gold. And what an intriguing place Choice was – firstly our black cab driver just couldn’t find it but after a mixture of logic and luck we found this jolly little restaurant next to the canal.

I noticed that the waiter didn’t write down our order, I don’t why this annoyed me. Maybe I considered he was showing off that he had a better memory than I did or he just didn’t have a pen to hand. I did feel slightly vindicated when he had to pop back to confirm some of our order details. Ha!

There was a whole menu of Lakeland breads so I chose the selection we would most favour, but it seemed you just got whatever came to hand first so I guess that was one thing the waiter didn’t even have to remember, no wonder he looked slightly perplexed when I plumped for pesto bread etcetera. Though unfortunately I have to say the rolls we received were a little solid and past their best.

For my starter I chose Cream of Cauliflower Soup – finished with Crumbled Lancashire Cheese and Chive Oil. I make a lot of cauliflower soup at home so it seemed slightly odd to eat it in a restaurant but when in Lancashire

I liked the texture of the cauliflower soup and the Lancashire cheese was a nice touch but it was a hefty portion, I was slightly concerned that I would struggle come dessert time.

M desired the “Scallops – Our signature pan fried hand caught King Scallops on a Cheshire Cheese Scone with Saffron Sauce and Chive Oil” which I suspected due to a love of scallops and cheese scones. Certainly it seemed an intriguing proposition. The saffron sauce and chive oil was a very striking pond around the tower of cheese scone and scallops. I had a bite of the cheese scone and thought it was a little dense, I am not sure entirely that it went with the sweet, plump scallops. I think the flavour of scallops is so delicate that I worry sometimes what it accompanied by. But never one to shy away from an M&S cheese scone, it was definitely intriguing and as Choice’s signature dish, clearly it was a popular choice. I have to admit that the jury was still out for me though M seemed delighted with it herself.

There were plenty of interesting choice for the main course but I fancied the Lamb Rump – Borrowdale Valley Herdwick Rump of Lamb on Colcannon Potato with Smoked Garlic Jus. The lamb was pink, succulent and flavoursome and the colcannon and garlicky jus went with it very well. I would have liked something green to accompany it but there's always a chance M will donate some of hers!

M was clearly feeling much more experimental than me tonight and chose the curious sounding main course of Duck – Peppered Duck Breast on a warm salad of Broccoli, Spring Onions and Sesame Seeds topped with cool Chilli and Honey Ice Cream. This was indeed a curio, the cool chilli ice cream certainly had a kick, not one I was totally crazy about but then I have never been a big fan of too much heat with my food. I know the fashionable taste seems to be for many foods to have a certain eye watering, lip numbing quality but it’s not really me. Though I am more of a fan of horseradish than I ever used to be so maybe it is something I can learn to enjoy. M however, seemed rather taken by her fusion duck though and that is more important than my slight misgivings.

By donating and leaving some of her unnecessary broccoli, M had left space for one of her favourites - Sticky Toffee Pudding – Homemade Sticky Toffee Pudding with hot Toffee Syrup and Vanilla Ice Cream. Whereas I was suffering from perhaps my soup being a little too plentiful I opted just for a little vanilla ice cream to round the meal off.

Choice was certainly a remarkable evening, M stretched the boundaries in her culinary experience whereas I definitely opted for the safer options of old favourites but we had a lovely two fork meal. We made our way outside back to the rather close canal just as the pianist (of indeterminate gender) started tinkling away at the piano. Choice was a good choice!

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