Since a couple of recent closures, Stock is arguably the city centre's best restaurant. Certainly the space, in the former Stock Exchange, is one of the finest rooms I've been in - full of Victorian opulance that represents much of the city's architecture. Opulance may be one thing, but the very high ceiling of the main restaurant room (the old trading floor) makes it very difficult to heat and was very chilly this evening.
So - to the food which is solidly set in the Italian roots of the owner's original small restaurant in Bollington (near Macclesfield). As we sat down, we were presented with the "Christmas menu", but a nice smile from Mrs Brit quickly saw the a la carte appear. It offers half a dozen starters proper, together with a similar number of pasta dishes which can be taken as a starter or main. Eight or so meat or veggie mains follow. The restaurant prides itself on its fish dishes which are always offered as "specials" - tonight offerings being bass, bream, monkfish, lobster and mullet.
I started with the ravioli of the day - salmon. Good fishy taste; cream & fennel sauce - 5 big ravioli. I liked. I followed this with calves liver/pancetta/broad beans/baby onions. It came with a good meaty sauce. I liked this a lot - not as much as I like fegato alla veneziana - but a lot.
Mrs B started with a cannellini bean and mussel soup with garlic crouton. Lovely rustic looking dish which was a great hit. She then had a fillet steak which came with "Mixed Mushrooms, Topped with a Cheese & Mushroom Fondant and Served on Puff Pastry Croute". Looked good and I was allowed a taste of the meat. Nice.
A separate dish brought some spuds, battered and deep fried fennel (wonderful), carrots and mangetout. Why do restaurants serve mangetout? They bring nothing to the table except green!
To finish I had cheese - three smallish slices - one each of parmesan, an indeterminate tasteless one and a strongish blue cheese that was probably gorgonzola. It came with bread, grapes, celery and nice onion chutney. Mrs B had panettone bread and butter pudding which looked great but which I was not allowed a taste of (but was told it was as good as it looked).
Service was pretty much faultless. The bill, including drinks before, a glass of wine with (for Mrs B), water for me and coffee after, came to £93, including a 10% service charge. Excellent value for a upscale eatery - but why, oh why, in a place like this are there paper napkins?