Harden's survey result
“Adam has put his stamp on this place now, and it keeps getting better”. This grade II listed chamber – somewhat funked up, with yellow leather banquettes and massive lights, within what is, in essence, a very traditional space – has had many culinary ups and downs over the decades, but, after three years at the helm, Adam Reid is now settling into a “fabulous” stride here, with his selection of “totally desirable” four, six or nine-course menus. The cuisine is “not so challenging that you don’t want to come!” – “flowing wonderfully and generously, with notably well-executed dishes that simply delight”. And you eat to a “terrific soundtrack too (Buddy Holly to Arctic Monkeys to the Beatles)”. Until Mana triumphed at this year’s Michelin awards, The French was the only Manchester restaurant ever to have held a Michelin star (most recently in 1974) and was a hot tip to be the first to regain the prize for the city. “How other places in the region can have a Michelin star and The French doesn’t is utterly inexplicable (apart from Michelin’s pig-headedness of course)”.
This “superb, very elegant space” put in a stronger performance in the survey this year, perhaps aided by “a recent change of style and presentation” that has seen it “dispense with white tablecloths to pursue a more informal approach”. Adam Reid’s cuisine is “very enjoyable” and his four-, six- and nine-course menus deliver some “beautifully balanced dishes”. Perhaps unfairly, however, there remains an air of promise unfulfilled over this famous chamber. It’s not just that it still carries the weight of being the last Manchester restaurant to hold a Michelin star back in the distant days of 1974. But in the present day, it’s by no means as much commented-on in the survey as one might expect for such a big name, and amongst those reports we do receive, some still talk of the odd “terrible” trip, or a meal with “patchy service, and dishes where some, but not all, were interesting”. In October 2018 the £115m sale of the hotel was announced – renovation is planned but whether change is afoot for The French remains to be seen.
It would be too strong to call it a disastrous decline, but since Simon Rogan severed his ties with this famous but “hushed and slightly stilted” chamber, performance has gone from rocky to a-bit-more-rocky. Loyalists feel “Adam Reid’s style adds a warmth to the presentation and stays true to good produce and clean cooking” within the scope of his 4-, 6- and 9-course tasting menus; and praise staff who are “friendly and not stuffy”. The scepticism of former years persists however, with critics feeling the performance is “too expensive” (“boy those portions are small!”) or “lacking finesse”.
In October 2016, a couple of weeks after it failed to win a Michelin Star, Simon Rogan severed his links with this famous dining room (where Mr Rolls first met Mr Royce in days gone by), so we’ve left it un-rated, even though head chef Adam Reid remains in place. Perhaps under the management of the hotel, this operation will sort itself out, because reports this year suggested the former set-up “just hadn’t got it right”. Fans were very enthusiastic, extolling “adventurous food and a wonderful, wonderful overall experience”, but even some of them could find the ambience “uptight”, and a worrying number of harsher critics “were hugely disappointed on so many levels” finding it “very fancy, but neither memorable nor exceptional”. Perhaps by next year it will have settled down a bit?
|Wine per bottle||£30.00|
Peter St, Manchester, M60 2DS
|Tuesday||5 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Wednesday||5 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑1 pm, 5 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑1 pm, 5 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑1 pm, 5 pm‑9:30 pm|