Food review - Opus One Bar and Restaurant, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 February 2014
The conductor long ago put down his baton and walked off the podium. It's now fine food and chic decor which create sweet music at the hotel occupying the former Free Trade Hall
Once the home of the Free Trade Hall, the luxurious Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel on Peter Street is still a special place for Mancunians with a sense of history.
The days when the Halle Orchestra played here may be long gone – but the food on offer at its Opus One Bar and Restaurant is still sweet music to anyone who loves local produce lovingly cooked.
Head chef is Matthew Downes and one of their signature dishes is ‘Barrel of Cheshire Lamb Gremolata with Neck Hotpot and Rarebit Fondant’. This sophisticated take on a regional dish is typical of a restaurant combining the best in traditional favourites with modern trends in fine dining.
Proudly Northern it may be, yet there’s a New York vibe to Opus One. Its soaring ceilings, chandeliers and red velvet walls complete with antique gold could be made in Manhattan - as could the regular sight of the city’s movers and shakers relaxing over a cocktail at the bar.
Our girly gathering coincided with a dark and stormy night and as we browsed the seasonal menu over a glass of welcoming champagne there was no shortage of rib-sticking choices to warm us up.
Tempting starters included seared wood pigeon with Cumbria ham mash and parsnip puree, but I opted for a tender terrine of slow-cooked Cheshire duck with kumquat relish. Roast celeriac soup won the day on the other side of the table and we also had room for a goats’ cheese and chive ballontine complete with beetroot carpaccio.
Vegetarians are not forgotten for the main event. Non-carnivorous choices included winter vegetable turnover with carrot pressing and celeriac veloute as well as a squash risotto. Other options included pan-fried sea bass, festive turkey and seared local lamb with aubergine but I plumped for a memorable aged rib of beef with oxtail, pancetta and quails egg. Portions are generous but we somehow managed side orders of chorizo and butter bean mash and exquisite hand-cut chips. Our dessert choices, also beautifully seasonal, included chocolate tart with orange salad and burnt orange syrup and damson and pear crumble with winterberry puree vanilla ice cream. A selection of local cheeses with chutney is also available for those lacking a sweet tooth. An extensive wine list, with something for all tastes and most budgets, starts at around £16.95. n
Opus One Bar and Restaurant
Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5GP
Open Monday to Sunday 6.00pm to 10.30pm.
Pre-theatre menu - £20 for 2 courses with complementary glass of wine, beer or soft drink
Telephone: +44 (0) 161 835 8904