Up north has more to offer than chips and gravy. I’ve tried to persuade my southern friends, they’re having none of it. But, if this meal doesn’t convince them, nothing will.
The French has been a fixture at The Midland hotel off St. Peter’s Square for a couple of years now. The dinky dining room accommodates little more than 14 tables. Renovated for opening, the décor is a combination of moody luxury with an appropriate lashing of northern bling all set to an easy-going soundtrack.
During the week you can pick from the slightly cheaper lunch menu though at weekends the only option is the six-course tasting menu for £65. As with all these places, six courses really means more once you factor in all the bonus courses.
Starting on what was probably the lowest note, the squid ink crackers with some kind of fishy dip… I’ll be honest I was distracted choosing from a great (if pricey) wine menu.
The sticky soy interior of the crispy trotter crackling ‘croquette’ was moreish and the pickled onion purée left me scraping my plate.
Tempura broccoli with cheese and truffle was a combination of my favourite things. Generous on the truffle, it was a little luxury.
Steak bleu was not what I expected at all. No blue cheese in sight instead bleu meant raw ‘à la française’, a tartare with celeriac and mushroom that would covert even the staunchest sceptics.
The Cornish cod bathed in brown shrimp butter was silken and translucent.
The crescendo was leading up to the main, salt aged duck, beetroot, mushroom and pickled cherry juices. Everything on the plate was delicious but the pièce de résistance was confit duck leg with pumpkin seeds and caramel served up in a little copper pot. Not three things I ever thought I would get together but it really did work.
Dessert was a miniature version of the famous Great British Menu Golden Apple (which you can try for an extra £20) though made with kalamansi, a little citrus fruit native to the Philippines. The delicate sugar shell gave way to soft sorbet and a punchy compote.