Formal dining without the formalities: Adam Reid at The French

With a recent refurbishment and menu revamp, The French has long been established as one of Manchester's most coveted fine dining restaurants. Now, with Adam Reid at the helm, The Executive paid a visit to find out more about one of the best culinary experiences in the city.
Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Elizabeth Jenkins-Smalley

Editor In Chief at The Executive Magazine

Discreetly tucked away inside the five-star Midland Hotel on Peter Street in Manchester, Adam Reid at The French is a fine dining restaurant headed up by its namesake and celebrity chef, taking over from Simon Rogan. Set in a splendorous dining room, with period features and opulent yet modern decor, the venue is stylish, relaxing, and comfortable.

Reid is the winner of season 11 of The Great British Menu, a BBC series in which he wowed the judges, and sealed the top spot of the competition with his signature dessert, the ‘Golden Empire’, beating off stiff competition from top chefs from around the country.

The French is one of the most reputable restaurants in the region, with four AA Rosettes, and a spot on the Good Food Guide Top 50 UK restaurants list, reaching position 13 with a score of 8/10. The illusive Michelin Star seems to have brushed by The French, but Reid isn’t concerned: “For me, our AA Rosettes are on par with a Michelin Star, and even more recognised at an industry level. Everyone says that Manchester is a city that should get a Star, which makes me really proud, you don’t hear people saying that about Birmingham or Leeds or any other city. So I’m just focusing on the food, and making it as good as we possibly can.”

A real juxtaposition to the premium setting is the music, which comprises of an eclectic mix of songs ranging from the Beach Boys to Jonny Cash. In these style of restaurants you are more accustomed to soft piano riffs, but The French’s twist on this works, and creates a more relaxing atmosphere, giving the Manchester restaurant more personality – especially with the playlist coming from Reid’s personal collection of favourite songs.

We opted for the famous ‘large’ taster menu, which comprises of 9 dishes, each accompanied by a wine pairing selected by head sommelier Vladimir Svehlak. There are smaller options for those with a smaller appetite, but the no-rush service and table allocation that lasts all evening means you can enjoy each course at your own pace, and take your time to fully appreciate each of the creative and intriguing dishes.

Divided into a selection of starters, mains, and desserts, the small plates are carefully configured to create a culinary journey, which envelop all of the senses. The aromas, tastes, and aesthetics of each dish are all carefully considered, and each is a delicate work of art. The wines take you on a similar journey, starting with citrus infused dry whites, through to fruity and spicy vintage reds, ending up with fortified and ultra-sweet wines for dessert.

Our favourite dishes include the delicious Curried Mussels paired with a dry white Dobogo Tokaj Furmint 2015. The Curried Mussels a presented in a broth-style bowl with mussels nestled among spinach, potatoes and a fish butter sauce. The light wine complements it perfectly, helping the subtle citrus flavours to come through.

A modern take on a Manchester tradition, the Tater ‘Ash was another standout course. Served with mushroom catsup and bread and butter, the succulent raw steak mixed with finely diced ingredients come together to create a unique but familiar homely dish with a modern twist.

The most accomplished dish is the Smoked Gigha Halibut, an immensely delicate and light fillet of white fish served with shrimp and seaweed which melts in the mouth. This was paired with Domaine Giachino Roussette de Savoie white wine – a vintage with superior clarity. The notes violet and herbs with a hint of bergamot and honey really bring this dish to life.

Renowned for his award-winning desserts, Reid’s take on the classic sorbet was nothing short of spectacular. A painstakingly handmade delicate orange sugar shell cracks open to reveal a smooth sea of buckthorn sorbet with white chocolate. A complete wonder in its creation, and exemplary in its execution, the Easy Peeler is one of the best desserts we have had in a long time.

A restaurant truly worthy of the Adam Reid appellation, The French is a must-visit destination restaurant for anyone visiting Manchester. Reid will also be appearing in the upcoming series of The Great British Menu, airing at the end of March.

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