It”s been a busy year eating out in Manchester, with new places seemingly popping up every week. For me I”ve been working my way through a bit of a restaurant wish list, and there”s only a handful of places left I haven”t managed to get to yet. One that was definitely right up at the top of my hit list was Damson, and so I was delighted to finally get the chance to try the food at their Media City location.
Something I”ve had more than my fair share of lately is taster menus. To me they”re ideal for the indecisive and adventurous alike, offering an opportunity to sample a lot more cooking, and often with a similar price tag to 3 courses. With ever more places in our fine city offering the option there”s a continuous challenge to stand out, so did Damson do a plum job?
The first course was befitting of the rather summery view we were treated to over the Salford Quays, a chilled cucumber & lettuce gazpacho that came with a gin & tonic granita and was cool, refreshing and cleansed the palette nicely. That icy shot of G&T slushy was a bit of a revelation as well, they”re definitely on to something there. Next up was seared Cornish mackerel, which came with a sort of deconstructed nicoise salad, green beans, cherry tomato and half a quails egg. Oily fish and nutritious bites forming a simple but lovely combination.
Marinated Tremain Farm English feta cheese with watermelon, pickled watermelon skins and spiced rum granola was anything but an classic mix but really blew me away. The rum granola in particular was fantastic, I”d have liked to take casino some home, but then it may be a bit risky to get a taste for that sort of thing in the morning.
Roasted loin of cod, parsley pomme puree, salsify, asparagus, vanilla bubbles and caviar sounds every bit as impressive as it tasted. The crunch of the salsify alongside delicate flaky fish was a real feast for the senses. Often the most impressive flavours don”t come from the most photogenic dishes, and that”s probably true of the seared duck breast which was next to arrive. It came with crispy leg in a sort of fried potato thimble alongside spice-roasted pineapple, fennel ceviche, and a port sauce. If previous dishes had felt refined in their composition this was pure indulgence, with that succulent game cooked beautifully rare.
The indulgence didn”t stop there though and was followed up with chocolate cremeux, a sort of denser, richer version of a mousse that did everything a dessert should do, griottine cherries and ice cream completing a picture of gratification.
I like to think of our final course as a sort of interpretation of Wensleydale and Christmas cake. This was truffled brie de meux alongside Eccles cake, but cheese and fruit cake nonetheless. Being from the other side of the Pennines I have to be forgiven for believing everything decent was invented in Yorkshire.
And with that we were finally full, I think the real ingenuity of these extended meals is their almost tantric nature. Like we”re being tempted with intensely flavoured morsels without quite ever being filled up, until the last bite. Damson lives up to the billing with some quite brilliant dishes in a lovely setting.
Keep it coming I say.