Category Archives: food

FooD @ Moor Hall

I had been waiting for this for a while. I randomly saw a tweet about a new restaurant with rooms opening about 10mins from where I live that would have ex-executive chef of L’Enclume Mark Birchall at the helm. I knew I would have to give it a try. I don’t even remember how long ago it was, sometime last year I think, they had a lot of building work to do first so I just kept an eye on it.

Well the wait was finally over. The restaurant opened its door a month or so ago. I booked within a few days but like all new restaurants I like to give it a few weeks to settle in before going. It could have been open years, service was really good, better than a couple of places I’ve been that have stars. Although there was one point the table next to me set fire to their menu (by accident, I hope) and there was a little confusion about what to do. I doubt sorting out a menu on fire was on the training list. It reminded me of when we went to L’Enclume and a drink (maybe a dish) was dropped and about 10 people came running out of the kitchen to sort it out.

The sommelier needs a special mention. Engaging, really knew his stuff, all good pairings. I’ve been disappointed with sommeliers at other restaurants. I don’t drink wine at home, the only time I ever drink wine is usually with a tasting menu and the first time was at Sat Bains where the sommelier at the time was amazing. Since then none have been close. The sommelier at Moor Hall could be as good, maybe just a little bit more detail about what flavours the wine brings out in the food and the food brings out in the wine and he would be perfect.

Well, the food, what can I say? Every dish was on a scale of good to great. Usually there is at least one dish I don’t rate or even actively dislike but everything was done really, really well. There is an obvious massive influence from L’Enclume from the bespoke stoneware plates and bowls to the style of dishes. One dish in particular I have had three versions of now, first in The French, then at L’Enclume and now here. The beef in charcoal. The first time in The French it was Ox in coal oil which at the time was wow. Raw ox that tasted like it had just come off a BBQ. The second time was venison at L’Enclume, the coal wasn’t as strong but the meat was more melt in the mouth and all the little pearls accompanying popped with flavour. The dish was still good at Moor Hall but the beef didn’t standout, the charcoal wasn’t noticeable and the extras overpowered it a bit. Being a bit nit picky here but that dish at the other two places stood out, here it wasn’t in the top five. If i hadn’t had a similar dish before I’d probably have said it was great.

Anyway, I went for the 8 courses. Something that I really like is when you get a bunch of other things besides those eight. It came to 14 in total, 15 if you count the bit of prosciutto with pre-drinks. Standouts for me were the Baked Carrots, I really like contrast of temperatures so sticking something frozen on is great. The Grilled Scallop with cauliflower may well have been a standout dish, the purée and grilled cauliflower we fantastic and the scallop was so meaty. The toffee apple like desert is another winner.

A trip to Moor Hall has also added another thing to the list of what I would get if I won the lottery … a cheese room!!!

I’ve been waiting for a star in Manchester for a while now but instead I think there is a contender that a place 5 minutes down the road from where I live will actually get 1 (or 2)  first. I recommend you go see for yourself before everyone else finds out about it.

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FooD @urbisrabbit The Rabbit in The Moon Manchester …

Ready or not here I come … I’m going to kick off and get the negative bits out of the way. I had been following the progress of this restaurant since it was announced Michael O’Hare would be working with GG Hospitality to open new restaurants in Manchester. I’ve followed all the tweets, booked on the day it went live, read all the reviews …

I’ve seen a few grumblings about service and the music. For me I liked the music, it wasn’t too loud as some have said. I can see the 90s Hip Hop R&B being a bit of a generation thing, Michael is a couple of years older than me (if Wikipedia can be trusted) and most songs that were on I used to listen to as a teenager as I guess he might have done. After hearing so many shit versions of Ready or not on various TV adverts recently it was great to have the Fugees playing.

Service was slightly mixed. It was going great, it is slightly fast but most of the 17 courses are one mouthful. There are a mix or servers, girls in jumpers with a big rabbit on the front who put stuff down/take away and don’t speak and then the chefs including Luke Cockerill the 20 something year old head chef who talk you through the dishes. I feel a little bit for the chefs, I don’t imagine serving and talking through the dishes is in their comfort zone. A couple of times it felt slightly scripted but who cares, the restaurant has only been open a few weeks, I’m sure they will relax into it after doing it a few more times.

My only grumble about the service was with the wine service. There isn’t a matching  flight so we bought a bottle, a glass was poured from it and then the bottle taken away. The problem was that our glasses weren’t topped up quick enough. I’v been places that have the opposite problem that top your glass up the moment you take a sip and it gets a bit OTT. But the glass should never be dry. About 10 dishes in we ordered another bottle and after the first glass no one topped it up. I think the problem was that it seemed like only one person was actually topping drinks up for the whole restaurant. To be honest I’d rather the bottle was just left on the table so I could top up myself. I think we threw the staff off at the end, the last course arrived and then a bill quickly appeared and was removed when I asked where the rest of our wine was. After that I had to ask for the bill and then after ten minutes had to ask to pay. We were probably at the table half an hour longer than the time it said we had to give it up by on the reservation. We had actually finished eating at the correct time it was just with not being topped up we had 3/4 of a bottle left. I’d have been happy to go back upstairs but we weren’t asked to.

Wow, I’ve wrote a lot just to say the only negative is I’d rather they left wine on the table or had more people topping up.

Should really talk about food as that’s the point.

What can I say, it’s good, it’s really good, it’s different, space age Asian, I get it now. It is hard to compare it to anything else, it’s like trying to compare a 3 course à la carte meal with a 10 course taster and then to a 17 course taster. The flow of the meal is totally different, the size of each dish is totally different. It would be easier to compare it to tapas than anything else. Dishes come at you in waves, the 17 courses came in a sequence of 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 2, 1. From what I have seen I think that sequence has been evolving and probably the reason why there isn’t a wine pairing yet.

Most dishes are one bite, don’t worry, although from some of the pictures the pain au unagi looks the size of something you might get in Greggs it isn’t. It is one of the bigger things and I did take four bites out of it. The bacon butty although looks massive on twitter is only a twoer. The two noodle dishes took the most eating just because you need to use chopsticks rather than your hands.

By the way, when you go I hope you have clean hands and have been practicing with chopsticks. Besides the noddle dishes I think I ate everything with my hands. Oh, and it is always great having to be given instructions on how to eat something.

Highlights for me, crispy rabbit ears, wagyu nigari, duck nigiri and the plum stone (although I did think it was a bit of a waste of a plum), the plum sake is really good too. Mrs TramP loved the salmon skin inari. I’ve noticed from the pictures on twitter, the menu online and what I actually ate, in just a month there have been several tweaks and changes to the dishes already. I went to The Man Behind the Curtain last Easter and had been looking on twitter for pictures of the food and noticed lots of tweaks to dishes all the time. I suppose it is constantly evolving trying to hit perfection. Some of the dishes were a bit blah, but to be fair when I have an 8+ course tasting menu there is often something that I actively dislike. With this 17 courses I actually liked all of them, I just liked some a lot more than others.

Testament to the chefs, they all looked about 12 and unless all the old guys were hiding in the back, for such a young crew they are making some fucking amazing food. Could they get a star? On food they could probably get one today, service might need a couple of months to become really slick.

What are you waiting for? Book now!!!

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