Review: Room restaurant @ King Street, Manchester

By Helen Le Caplain

Asian and North African influences on traditional British classics are the focal point of Room’s new seasonal menu, so my other half and I decided to head down and check it out.

As you step into the opulent Grade II-listed surroundings of Room you instantly leave the hustle and bustle of the city’s shopping district behind and enter the calming fine dining sanctuary within.

We settled into an alcove which not only affords diners some privacy but also boasts delightful views of city life below.

After selecting a glass of house white and rosé we perused the menu, featuring Asian and North African twists on British classics, and looked forward to the theatrical dining experience promised.

Kicking off the meal was a mixed starter platter featuring a variety of seafood, meats and vegetarian options.

The spiced prawn and crab cocktail was a tasty and meaty start to the meal; served with a deep-fried king prawn on the side and guacamole and marie rose dressing it certainly whetted our appetites for the next seafood starter.

Veering away from the traditional and, dare I say boring, smoked salmon and cream cheese combination, Room chefs have incorporated vodka-spiked cucumber, celery and a Bloody Mary shot alongside this delicately-flavoured fish to liven things up.

The vegetarian options we sampled included a tasty creamy mushroom, jam and tarragon croquette and mouth-watering freshly-baked bread rolls, perfect for mopping up any tasty morsels left behind.

LAVISH: Mixed starter platter featuring seafood, meats and vegetarian options

Moving onto the meaty section of the starter board is where opinion was divided – my other half adored the terrine consisting of foie gras, pigeon, guinea fowl & ham, served with rhubarb jelly cubes.

He raved about the richness of the meat, the combination of flavours and the sweet contrast provided by the rhubarb element.

I on the other hand found it a little too fatty for my tastes, leaving the lion’s share to my gleeful dining partner.

My favourite starter of the board was the ham, egg and peas. It may not sound much, but as they say, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

The ham hock was deliciously meaty and, paired with the soft pea mousse peaks and confit egg, was a welcome addition to my plate.

The ultra-crispy deep fried bacon topping complemented the softer textures of the other ingredients by providing the perfect crunch – absolutely superb.

After demolishing our starter board we looked forward to the next course, hoping we’d left enough room to do our mains justice.

I opted for the Monkfish bhaji, while my other half chose the North African spiced lamb.

There was strictly no sharing at this point, even though I did float the idea ahead of the meals’ arrival at the table… well you can’t win them all!

Certainly living up to its theatrical dining promise the lamb was presented in an brightly-coloured tagine on a bed of tabbouleh which for the uninitiated, me included, is a popular Middle Eastern salad featuring a lot of parsley.

I was assured that the lamb was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth and worked beautifully with the smoked aubergine, feta cheese and tabbouleh.

The only improvement which may lift the dish even further would be a little extra cumin or other spices to crank up the heat, but other than that a big thumbs up overall.

Another feast for the eyes arrived in the form of the monkfish served on a wooden serving slab complete with a miniature ceramic dish and milk bottle.

As the dish was laid down the lid was whipped off to reveal the generous helping of eye-catching saag aloo.

The monkfish bhajis were absolutely enormous – a serious challenge considering the sizeable starters we’d packed away earlier in the evening.

The crispy spiced casing was absolutely delicious and proved to be the perfect contrast to the white meaty fish within and the creamy lentil dahl.

And this was no meagre serving, the monkfish pieces were large and beautifully cooked and when coupled with the other elements made for a wonderfully-filling dish.

The honey lassi dressing was quirkily presented in a miniature milk bottle, complete with straw, to ensure that any over-spiced palettes were suitably soothed.

Inevitably when dining out, regardless of how full you are, you can always make room (no pun intended) for dessert.

Similar to our starter platter we sampled many of the dessert options. Although at this stage we were feeling somewhat fit to bust we considered it would be rude not to have a little taste, or in my case devour, what we were given.

If you have a sweet tooth you’ll love the vast range of options on offer including cakes, sorbets and tarts.

First I tackled the miniature carrot cake which both looked and tasted amazing – I particularly liked the contrast between the cream cheese, carrot sorbet and the crunch of the walnuts, a definite crowd pleaser.

Next I turned my attention to the deliciously sticky toasted marshmallow complete with a refreshing mango sorbet and a desiccated coconut crunch.

The still-warm treacle tart with salted caramel was one of my favourites, a moreish pud that would satisfy even the sweetest of toothes.

Last, but certainly by no means least, was the stripy strawberry and cream jelly.

Reminiscent of a much-loved childhood dessert it came served with a shard of toffee and its own shot of strawberry syrup for an added sugary hit – definitely one not to be missed.

Having experienced the great food, great wine and great service that Room has to offer there’s no doubt in my mind how it’s managed to win the two AA Rosette accreditation and scooped a number of awards along the way.

If you’re looking for affordable fine dining with a twist and a touch of the theatrical then you’ve found just the place.

For more information about this summer’s menu, click here.

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