Put Your Money on Delicious Dining
Locally sourced meat, inventive deserts and remarkable value, James Martin Manchester is a tucked away gem to hunt down to have a foodie flutter
Review by Catherine Ferguson
Short of the office Strictly sweepstake and the occasional old skool raffle ticket, I’m not much of a gambling girl, so I never expected to find myself wandering through a casino on the hunt for a locally-sourced, seasonal tasting menu.
When a restaurant boasts the name of its celebrity chef owner, there’s often a sense of trepidation that they might have sold out. While James Martin isn’t always at the helm of his Manchester name sake, his head chef, Doug Crampton, deserves all the credit he gets. Nestling on a mezzanine in the Great Northern Warehouse above Manchester 235 Casino, he boasts an understated, but remarkable menu of home-grown dishes.
At just £30, the sheer value of the five course menu couldn’t fail to impress. For an extra £17.50, the matching wines were equally on point. As my boyfriend and I walked home, ranking our courses from 1-5, we were both set on giving the amuse bouche and dessert our top two spots.
The Cumbrian venison tartare with black pudding, smoked beetroot and pumpkin seeds was a magnificent start to our meal; somehow the beetroot was almost fruity while the meaty, earthiness of the black pudding and venison brought a warming, wintery feel to the plate. Our pudding was a Yuzu and Lime tart with an aerated chocolate chunk and a bitter chocolate sorbet. Topped off with a crème brulée-style, torched top and a glass of Sauternes, I was tickled pink. Once I’d successfully Googled ‘yuzu’ and identified it as the latest Japanese citrus super fruit, I sat back and enjoyed every mouthful. It was an absolute delight.
Whilst the restaurant can only be reached through the Casino, it is neither visible, nor audible from the tables. The service was excellent but unobtrusive, with knowledgeable staff who were more than happy to discuss the menu. One of the most interesting spectacles on the mezzanine is the meat market, which showcases all manner of beasts from James Martin’s beloved Yorkshire. It’s a sight to behold, but beware, the gargantuan hunks of pigs and cows dangling from butchers’ hooks mean that the walk-in, pick your own steak option might only be for the most hardy of carnivores.
In a nutshell, we were blown away by the sheer value and exceptional standard of the tasting menu. Granted, there might be a smidgen of Las Vegas about it, but you never know, you might even fancy a flutter on your way home.
Enquiries: James Martin Manchester, 2 Watson Street, Manchester M3 4LP / 01618 280345 / www.jamesmartinmanchester.co.uk/