After great anticipation I was finally able to dine at the Modern yesterday evening 19th feb in a party of 5.
The menu looked extremely interesting with a superb focus on local and/or British ingredients of high quality, simply prepared.
Sadly missing was the taste, absolutely lacking across the piece. I found the 2 courses which I plodded through to be extremely bland with very little to excite.
The pressed terrine of Mrs Kirkhams and ham hock with Parsley tasted of nothing (perhaps using Mrs Kirkhams tasty Lancs could have helped, or adding some flavour to the hock during cooking. The only flavour discernible within the piccalilli was acid. The toast was dry and unpleasant (the rolls served at the start of the meal were far, far superior)
The slow cooked saddle of lamb was OK although the flavour was a little flabby, the vegetables were neither crisp nor caramelised nor well flavoured, predominantly soggy. Although the jus was mercifully clean and clear free of heavy reduction it lacked any depth of flavour.
My colleagues and guests also commented a distinct lack of flavour experienced with both starters and mains.
Potted shrimps which could have been prepared at home (they looked straight out of a retail plastic pot - where is the culinary skill ?), an apple and something or other salad (I was too far away to disturb my German guest with uncomfortable questions about the poor quality of his starter).
The Roasted scallops with an unpleasant parsley sauce were also deemed characterless and instantly forgettable.
The Porcini salad was worse (gritty, soggy and presumably frozen mushrooms – why serve this out of season ?)
3 lamb saddles, cooked correctly were as described above, OK but lacking any spark and the 2 roasted rib eyes were again horrifically underseasoned. The only flavour was the cloying thyme and caramelised onion relish.
Chips were fine (thankfully crisp) but not fried in anything exciting, why not use duck fat or dripping ?
We decided to avoid potential further dessert disappointment.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am desperate for restaurants such as the Modern to succeed, to provide some competition to the CIty Café where is dined on Saturday.
Compare and contrast Modern potted shrimps with the City Cafes; served with baked cherry tomatoes and preserved lemon sauce, topped with micro leaves and accompanied by a soft toasted brioche.
I really believe that we need more top quality restaurants in manchester and we all breathed a sigh of relief when Le Mont pop its stuffy clogs and crossed our fingers and prayed for a pleasant environment where quality British food could be enjoyed in a spectacular setting.
With regard to minor quibbles, unfortunately the waitress seemed unable to pour a beer on both occasions for my German guest without creating a massive head which spilled onto the table.
and the Bordeaux I ordered arrived as a 2002 when I had specifically asked if it was definitely a 2001. This is a minor complaint but if I am paying for 2001 and I ask if it is definitely a 2001 and am told it is, well then is should be. The waitress could at least check if she isnt sure.
I am genuinely sorry to write such a review, I only hope that this can provide some assistance to future customers.
This is not intended as an attack on the Modern, I am sure everyone is doing their utmost and there is a clear desire to create something exceptional which can be seen by the choice of local fresh British ingredients.
I am truly deeply saddened by my visit and cannot see myself returning.
i was plannign to try Choice next Monday evening but after last night at the Modern i am going back to City Cafe as experience tells me to make gastronomic hay whilst the sun shines
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