“A quiet, intimate, plush space with some beautifully presented plates” On the face of it a bit of a boring Tuesday night was on cards, but this was different. The Cooktwit was having another year grafted onto his CV. To celebrate The Flame breezed into town to take me out for a slap up scran. Having tossed a coin between many offers, the penny finally settled on Michael Caines Restaurant which is housed deep in the bowels of the Abode Hotel up at the Piccaddilly end of Manchester. After a quick livener at ‘Beef and Pudding’ the architectural, sunlit frontage of the Abode homed into view.
Avoiding the cafe grill bit to the right we aimed left and sunk the several flights of stairs to the altogether swankier outlook of the restaurant. Mind you it took a few delicate minutes to bypass the suited greeters as our online booking was lost in the ether. As it was early, (six thirtyish) we were soon guided to a suitable spot. We entered the dark, hushed arena. Brown and grey hues were thoughtfully punctuated with spots of orange. Orange is the signature colour here. The smart Caine’s logo as well as the staff ties were all decked out with it. High end furnishings meant our table was a good size and the seating comfortable. The flame faced outwards from a plush banquette. I faced the mirrored wall on a four legged tub. This is swanky with a capital ‘S’. We both felt we should have put our posh frocks on!
Once seated a complimentary peach and sherry cocktail served to get the spirits zinging. We then surveyed the clear, sparse menu. We had already stated we were going for the special ‘Spring into Summer’ menu. £24.95 for three courses. Choice of four starts, four mains and four desserts. Bit stingey on choice I suppose, but we were both able to select something that suited. We listened in to one or two others. The maître di (s) were overheard describing the tasting menu and the a la carte. Sounded good. Once we had selected, our passionate, knowledgable sommelier swept over to help chose a nice glass of wine to suit our choice. We also elected to have the substantial bread course (£1.50 each).
Within a short sketch the first course shimmered into view. The flame went for the salmon mouse which came with pickled beetroot and a raisin vinaigrette. I had the confit duck terrine with an elderflower and champagne jelly and a peach purée. Both dishes were sublime, both in presentation and taste. My duck dish was a gamey delight, edged beautifully with spots of peach. We were both well chuffed. We mopped up with the warm homemade breads. Mains were equally good. The flame had her favourite, chicken, albeit this one was rolled up in a ballotine. Beautifully scented with tarragon, it was seated next to a pea purée and a white wine sauce. I managed a slice of the chicken. It was perfect, full of flavour and not too much tarragon. I had the cod, which was surrounded by pan fried gnocchi, green beans, mushroom purée and a chicken jus. The fish was perfectly cooked, each see through flake. The gnocchi together with the fish was a tad unusual. The gnocchi having a dense texture. The whole lot washed wonderfully with the mushroom sauce. The Chardonnay helped as well!
After managing to hold back our attentive and eager service we finally went for a dessert. After the initial disappointment of being told chef would not serve the lemon tart (as it was not up to scratch!) I went for my second choice, caramel tart with mascarpone ice cream and grated lemon. The flame had the ‘Opera gateaux’. I think I won here. My tart was superb, the delicate, crispy, sweet crust had to be broken through before combining with a smudge of the ice cream. A fine end.
We ended the scheme properly with a decent coffee and petit fours. I think someone had tipped chef off that it was my birthday! We both nodded to say that yes this was a very nice meal. The flame really felt it was her sort of place. Despite the headline price of £24.95 each, the costs soon ratchet up, £4.50 each for the coffee! The bill came to £90 including a 12% service. Pretty good really and to be fair the service was top notch. The waiters and waitresses were plentiful, all attentive, efficient, knowledgeable and never missed a beat. I’d recommend for a special occasion. You could pop the question here! And as a rocker they even had a pic of the ‘orrible ooh’ on the way to the loos. Can’t say fairer than that.
Michael Caines at Abode
177 Piccadilly Manchester M1 2DB
0161 247 7744 abodemanchester.co.uk