Food profile - Dakota Grill, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 August 2019
Simple but beautifully done, everything comes together in perfect style in Manchester's newest hotel.
Opening in May this year, located on Ducie Street close to Piccadilly, the purpose-built Dakota Hotel is smart and sophisticated, has seriously cool décor, yet retains the warmth and rejection of fussiness you want from a top hotel in Manchester. The restaurant, the Dakota Grill, has a straightforward ethos - simple things, done brilliantly. The simple things part is clear to read in the menu, which offers a small collection of familiar favourites, nothing to puzzle weary travellers or indeed destination diners, but none the less tricky to choose from as everything sounds delicious.
We dined on a sunny Thursday evening and the ambience was relaxed, with a light buzz of chatter and the serving staff moving swiftly between tables. Our server, Pedro, recommended an excellent gin and tonic for me, a previous unheard of Spanish gin that he was, rightly, very enthusiastic about. My driver (or husband, as he prefers to be known) chose a non-alcoholic beer.
We were delighted by the arrival of hot, crusty bread with a warm tomato and goat's cheese dip. This is a Dakota Grill signature and very yummy it is too. We were even more delighted when presented with amuse bouche - a delightful appetiser of celeriac done three ways, with a surprise (very welcome surprise) tang of pickled prune. Both were unexpected delights and both very good.
It wasn't long before my starter, a crispy duck salad, arrived and it was fabulous. A huge pile of shredded duck wrapped in a sweet sauce, with fresh green salad, watermelon and crunchy beansprouts, the occasional burst of coriander adding sparkles of pleasure. Mike opted for the Ham Hock Fritter - soft, sweet, shredded ham in a light breaded casing. That didn't touch the sides, as my father used to say. Admittedly he'd say it in reference to our Labrador, when you threw her a biscuit, but you get the drift.
Onto the mains: I chose Steak Frites, for me a dish redolent of summers in France and ideal on a summer evening here, too. I love the battered-flat steak and this one was still pink and came doused in fresh garlic butter - delicious! The frites were fine, but my side dish of Courgette Fritters with Parmesan was fabulous and left no room for chips. Mike went for the Lamb Loin with Gnocchi, Curry Emulsion & Cashew Nuts. The lamb was blush pink and perfectly cooked and the gnocchi were excellent. These are so easy to get wrong, but here they are light and fluffy and full of flavour.
As a destination dining venue, The Dakota Grill holds up well in a city filled with high end options. The ambience is cool, the menu is excellent, the food delicious, the service great and the wine list long…enjoy!