I wanted to be the first person to write about Mr Cooper’s House & Garden without mentioning the horticultural decor but now look, I’ve blown it already. Couldn’t resist.
You’d imagine Manchester’s probably used to the interior by now though anyway, if you’ve not yet eaten there, you should really have at least popped in for one of their brilliant cocktails. Although it shares a building with a more well known restaurant, this is definitely a venue that deserves to be talked about for its food rather than anything else. After three years and some amazing food, last October saw Simon Rogan and The Midland Hotel go their separate ways, leaving the cooking in the capable hands of the two head chefs already in place – after checking in with Adam Reid at the French last month it was time we went to see what Robert Taylor had in store for us at Mr Cooper’s.
The criticism has been levelled at this restaurant before that dishes have been a little over cluttered with ingredients, or perhaps included the fusion of too many cuisines. I think the current menu has got the balance about right though, and it was difficult to choose between some particularly interesting sounding starters. We eventually opted for the mackerel, which was served charred in a very light horseradish veloute, with apple, leeks and leek ash arranged around it. The sauce was delicious, a dash of beetroot oil enhanced it further, although I did find the fish a little salty for my taste. Our other starter was another very attractive dish, venison tartare with a gelatinous, confit egg yolk. A nice combination of textures and flavours spoilt slightly by a few too many capers.
If those starters were a bit of a mixed bag, our mains really impressed. First with Cumbrian beef sirloin, cooked beautifully rare alongside sweet, sticky root vegetables. A smoked beetroot puree then offered another dimension to what seemed at first quite a simple dish. Pert, succulent roasted halibut wrapped in savoy cabbage also got me excited. The rich protein of white beans and mussels balanced against a more subtle backdrop of samphire and saffron made for an inventive combination of ingredients that fit together perfectly. Neither were massive portions but that left plenty of room for sides, we particularly enjoyed the creamed kale with roasted chestnuts and bacon.
There used to be a caramel tart on offer that was so nice I ordered it twice, although not in the same sitting in fairness. Ready to take the mantle on this revamped menu is the caramel popcorn tart, it comes pretty close, and that topping makes things a bit more interesting, but the real star of the dish is a fantastic, slightly savoury toasted rye ice cream, delicious stuff. Another flavour not often found in dessert dominated our other, and the rosemary crème brûlée is a perfectly formed pudding for me. That hint of herb seasons an indulgently creamy pot of fun quite perfectly, and it’s all perked up by a zesty little fruit salad of rhubarb, orange, and light, crisp meringue.
You always get the feeling that, with a fistful of things to talk about other than what’s on the plate in front of you, sometimes is easy to forget about the quality of food available at Mr Cooper’s House & Garden. There’s a bit of everything, both on the menu and behind the bar, and it also has to be said that the service really is second to none. Forget about The Midland, The French and that big plastic tree, just go there and eat your dinner, you won’t be disappointed.
Mr Cooper’s House & Garden
The Midland Hotel, Peter St, Manchester M60 2DS
0161 235 4781