The former Bull & Bear restaurant in Manchester’s Stock Exchange Hotel has been transformed into the Stock Market Grill. It’s the latest in a portfolio of assets for local lads the Schofield Brothers alongside their co-pilot, wine expert James Brandwood. But how has the dining space changed and what’s on the menu as Manchester’s cocktail twins pop their restaurant cherry?
When Tom Kerridge announced he was packing up his bull and bear and vacating the highly-acclaimed restaurant, Manchester’s foodie fraternity took a sharp intake of breath. The beautiful dining room in the Edwardian baroque former stock exchange building was regarded as the feather in Gary Neville’s football cap when he converted the space into a posh hotel. Though the sports bar style flatscreen TVs dotted around the walls of the restaurant divided opinion, the kitchen, most recently led by 26-year-old chef whizz Connor Black, was consistently rated as one of the best in the city.
So there are big boots to fill by Joe and Daniel Schofield and team, famous for their eponymous god tier cocktail bar Schofield’s. The pair already own two other high end bars, Atomeca at Deansgate Square and Sterling at the Stock Exchange Hotel but this is their first food-led venue. But despite their cocktail fame, the team has 20 years in the restaurant biz between them. Joe was bar manager for a group of six restaurants including the acclaimed Tippling Club in Singapore before he moved back to Manchester to launch his brand here. James used to run the prestigious Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney where he helped develop their wine programme. So they’re far from new to the restaurant game.
They have hired impressive local talent in the kitchen in the form of Longsight lad Joshua Reed Cooper who sharpened his knife skills at places like The French, Mana and Where The Light Gets In before grabbing the spotlight with a short-lived but highly praised pop up called Tine. Reed-Cooper’s right hand man will be Mike Thomas whose name you may recognise from the paean to pasta that was Campagna at The Creameries. Front of house will be capably looked after by the hugely respected restaurant manager Eleanor Bristow, formerly at The French.
“Tom [Kerridge] and his team did a great job with the Bull & Bear,” says Joe, “We’d eat here in the restaurant very frequently. We’re just really excited to be able to continue the legacy of such a beautiful dining room. You can best describe our food as British brasserie. Traditional well-loved dishes elevated through produce and technique.”
The confidently short menu will change with the seasons. Its first incarnation is unashamedly British with a heavy leaning towards the Highlands. Dishes include confit rabbit suet pudding with potato puree, glazed carrots and sherry mustard sauce, Cornish cod, roast hispi cabbage with potted shrimp and lemon butter, and mussel Cullen skink with fried bread and lovage – there’s even a hot pot as a side dish (take that, mac n cheese). The grill will be fired up for meaty cuts like ex-dairy Friesian rib eye steak, pork and lamb chops or Scottish langoustines.
Sundays will see roast beef with horseradish cream and rotisserie chicken take the stage alongside alternatives to a Sunday roast in the form of wild mushroom tart with Jerusalem artichoke mousse and a full size Lancashire hotpot. But it’s the side dishes that have got us all doe eyed again – clotted cream potato puree or cauliflower cheese rarebit with your roast anyone?
Desserts tip their hat to the booze brothers with a whisky baba alongside a triple chocolate soufflé and a blood orange tart. And we can’t wait to get our hands on the signature William Wallace cocktail with Macallan 12yo Scotch, Pedro Ximenez sherry, vermouth and orange bitters. Don’t tell TikTok, but there’s also an elderflower sbagliatio with gooseberry, bitters, Vermouth and sparkling wine joining forces with the foragers’ favourite flower. Pre-dinner aperitifs at Sterling are a no-brainer too.
We’re glad to see the back of those flatscreen tellies but otherwise the grand space hasn’t changed too much. Beth Cullen Kerridge’s bronze statue has been replaced with tree-sized displays of dried flowers in hues of gold and peach. In a beautiful Grade II listed building like this, it’s best not to gild the lily anyway. It’s the food and drink that will be the major draw here.
Despite having gallivanted all over the world honing their hospitality skills, proud Northerners the Schofield brothers have firmly established their brand here in Manchester. This is their fourth venue in under two years and you will still find members of the team getting hands on behind the bars of their venues. They have a habit of choosing locations with a family connection, Joe tells us his grandma learned to swim in the pool underneath Sunlight House (where Schofield’s bar sits) and his mum worked in the very place they are now opening their first restaurant, back in the days when it was an actual stock exchange. They also love to support other local F&B venues. Joe can be found sipping martinis at Blinker on his nights off, while he tells us he recently enjoyed a meal at the newly opened Higher Ground.
The Stock Market Grill opens on Wednesday 1 March and is available to book now.